A Small But Diverse City, Seldom Described That Way

About four months ago, a councilman in Whitewater (intelligent, educated) expressed concern that a municipal meeting was poorly attended (it was).  His solution was to post notice of the next meeting on the Banner.  

They city posted a notice there, and the next meeting was still poorly attended (with only a few more people than the first meeting).

To the councilman, using that website (as municipal government so often does) made sense.  It was a ‘semi-official’ publication, in his eyes.

(Obvious declaration: I’ve no interest in carrying water for our municipal government, our Community Development Authority, our university administration, etc.  To be a semi-official publication to local authorities wouldn’t be to my liking, to put it mildly.  This is a website of independent (individual) commentary.  In this way, libertarians are like the ACLU: neither represents the government.)

Why, though, did a prominent notice in the Banner fail to entice?  Some notices would entice – but in far fewer instances than insiders will admit.

Why? Because Whitewater is more diverse – much more – than some insiders understand or than other insiders pretend.  Thousands in this city have no affinity with the views of local insiders.

How can one be sure?  One can be sure because one can look at the city’s actual demographics and see that we’re a collection of very different groups, most of whom cannot be expected to share the tastes and experiences of a few well-placed, well-fed town notables.

These few gentlemen are unwilling to admit as much; it’s obviously true, about them (and about me). We’re not demographically representative of thousands in the full city.  They are unwilling to admit this truth.

Consider what Whitewater really looks like, from the U.S. Census’s American Fact Finder:

  • The median age is 21.7
  • Of the adult population, 55.8% are students (enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs)
  • Over 10% are Hispanic or Latino (2014 data)
  • Almost one-in-five of all families with related children (19.8%) are below the poverty line
  • Of all families, over one-in-five (21.4%) have no workers in the family
  • Of the entire population (children, adults of any vocation), 36.7% fall below the poverty line

Whitewater’s town fathers (and her town blogger) look nothing like thousands – indeed a majority – in this city.

They won’t admit as much; I will.

It’s also why it’s not possible to capture all the city with a single message or publication; believing otherwise simply reflects one of a few perception biases.

This same diversity is why Whitewater has passed the point of a few big people, of a Mr. Whitewater, or of efforts at wrapping these thousands in a single package with a single bow.  The town notables and fawning print publications that have sought to describe the city this way are doomed in any event.  The town notables and reporters who have committed to this mendacious effort have wasted years to no avail.

This diversity doesn’t bother me – on the contrary, much of it (except of course statistics on poverty) strikes me as good for the city.  SeeThe (Welcome) End of ‘Big’ in a Small Town.

It’s simply odd, though, that so many smart people can’t (or won’t) see how demographically unrepresentative they are.

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8 years ago

So true!! Most of the committees are the same people. Everyone knows this. At this point some will admit it. Whitewater is slowly shedding a kowtow culture. It really does say a lot about you that you support these changes. You could have started out years ago writing in favor of their dumb ideas.

These guys would have loved, loved, loved you (especially since you write really well).

You made the right choice!