Desiree Bergstrom

Desiree Bergstrom

Rural Oregon is known for its beautiful landscapes, recreational activities and as a place people

from the urban centers visit. But as someone from a small farm town in Central Oregon, I can tell you there is more draw to the area than natural beauty — rural Oregon isn’t just a place you live. It’s a lifestyle.

Let’s get this straight now, farming is hard but rewarding work. It’s eating cold convenience store jo-jos left over from lunch in a tractor cab at 9 o’clock at night

It is important to point out that

as a student at the University of Oregon, I don’t live in my hometown full time, though I visit as often as I can to help my family out on the farm. It is also safe to say I see my community differently than some of the people who still live there. I went away from the community to study journalism — of all things — in Eugene, shifting in my perspective.

In the same way, Oregonians living in urban areas crave the concept of rural Oregon, not the reality

I originally went away to “the city” for school, a new adventure and more things to do on the weekends. I craved the novelty and wonder of the city not the reality. Now, three years later, I am drawn back to the place I couldn’t wait to leave.

Unfortunately, my love of journalism and writing may hinder my ability to go back anytime soon. The downside of a small town and a rural region is that only certain types of jobs are available — there aren’t a variety of media outlets to choose from. The same soil that funded much of my education will not support my career the same way.

That doesn’t stop me from wanting to go back, even considering job options that have nothing to do with my degree, just to be able to live in a small town.

The draw of my hometown isn’t in the ‘glamour’ or idea of driving a tractor or moving irrigation pipe – two things I do often.

In conversations with other students, my instructors and even strangers at the university, I often hear how they think farming is cool or would be fun to try.

Let’s get this straight now, farming is hard but rewarding work. It’s eating cold convenience store jo-jos left over from lunch in a tractor cab at 9 o’clock at night

It is important to point out that
as a student at the University of Oregon, I don’t live in my hometown full time, though I visit as often as I can to help my family out on the farm. It is also safe to say I see my community differently than some of the people who still live there. I went away from the community to study journalism — of all things — in Eugene, shifting in my perspective.

In the same way, Oregonians living in urban areas crave the concept of rural Oregon, not the reality

I originally went away to “the city” for school, a new adventure and more things to do on the weekends. I craved the novelty and wonder of the city not the reality. Now, three years later, I am drawn back to the place I couldn’t wait to leave.

Unfortunately, my love of journalism and writing may hinder my ability to go back anytime soon. The downside of a small town and a rural region is that only certain types of jobs are available — there aren’t a variety of media outlets to choose from. The same soil that funded much of my education will not support my career the same way.

That doesn’t stop me from wanting to go back, even considering job options that have nothing to do with my degree, just to be able to live in a small town.

The draw of my hometown isn’t in the ‘glamour’ or idea of driving a tractor or moving irrigation pipe – two things I do often.

In conversations with other students, my instructors and even strangers at the university, I often hear how they think farming is cool or would be fun to try.

Often I point my car east, out of what I now view as the over-hyped

college town of Eugene, to head home. The closer I get the better I feel. The air changes, through the static of the radio the familiar country station begins to come into tune and my body releases much of the tension it holds from the pressure of school, work and life.

Here is the kicker about my small home town that makes it hard to explain the lure of rural community: I am no less busy when I am home. In fact, often times I am working more and running all over the country from small town to small town on errands and visiting old friends.

I want to be there because unlike trendy Eugene, strangers wave at passing cars. “Traffic jams” are caused by a tractor or
a combine instead of an influx of people
getting off work at the same time.

Meeting new people in rural spaces isn’t a chore or a large time investment like it is in a university town where you can go to 20 different events and never see the same person twice. The spaces to meet people in rural communities are often
few and far between, but those spaces
are strong community builders because everyone goes to the church or the little corner store or the local diner.

The real draw of a town with less than 2,000 people is the sense of community and support rural Oregon towns possess — the feeling of being at home and belonging somewhere.

Rural Oregon’s draw is its people and communities — and yes, also its beauty.

Desiree Bergstrom is a senior at the University of Oregon from Culver, Ore.

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