Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Home

I "adopted" Union after having left the USAF. Here are some reasons:

Now, obviously, this film is a piece of propaganda. I mean that in a good sense... "propaganda" is a word that literally means "promotion" (not "lies" as is sometimes thought). Now, watch the film and notice the number of times the word "go" is used. You go to Spartanburg, go to Greenville, go to Columbia, go to the mountains, go the beach, go, go, go. As Union is in the middle of so much Upstate SC goodness, it's natural to promote Union's proximity to all of that. But I think in doing so the film misses out on quite a bit to recommend Union itself.

For instance, if you can GO to Spartanburg, why not LIVE there? There are a number of answers to that, one being that the cost of living in Union is incredibly low. I'm going to illustrate by sharing something that you have no business knowing. I live in a rather nice brick house, with a huge basement/garage (the size of the house itself) and an attached office. This house sits on a hill surrounded by mature oak, pecan, and pine trees on a three-acre plot of land about 2 miles outside the city limits. I bought it for $102K. My property taxes amount to something like $750/year.

For another, the amenities are in fact quite good, in part due to the low population. For instance, Charter Cable provides internet service with actual serviceable bitrates that are quite close to the 10 meg advertised limit. That's like having a 10Base-T connection to the internet! I get a better connection here that most of my acquaintances in more "developed" areas. As a result, I'm able to work productively from a home office that I jokingly refer to as being "equally inconvenient to everywhere". The water is extremely good, and the power company (owned by the city) does a very nice job of keeping things running. The city's ownership of the power company is a major plus, in that by having such a profit center the city can keep property taxes low. The film does mention the schools, which are in fact very, very good. In addition to having up-to-date facilities, our schools are NOT plagued by "zero-tolerance" rules that haunt other districts. We pay teachers and administrators to think, and they are quite happy to do that.

But here's the thing... while the film shows a lot of pretty places (not all of which are actually in Union county), and impressive things, and beats the drum of progress, progress, progress; it's the things that don't change about this place that really recommend it.

When I first came to this town in 1989, Main Street closed every Wednesday afternoon. Follow that? Main Street... the whole street.... every business... closed. Why? Because everybody went to church Wednesday evening, and took time off to prepare. Main Street doesn't close any more, and it's prettier than it was, but it's still populated by good, decent people.

We've had some scandals, yes. Susan Smith famously drowned her children in 1995. But such occurences are few and far between. In general, the people of Union are generous to a fault, honest, personable, friendly and hospitable. They're also creative... each year Union's Boogaloo Folk Life Productions produce and perform two completely original musical plays. (I'm happy to participate in these, as I describe here). These are based on true stories submitted by the residents of Union.

I've previously described my biggest reason for adopting this town, and rather than repeating it here I'm going to link you to that account. But let me leave you with this: Union has a great location, amenities, scenery, yada, yada, yada... but it is the people of Union that make this the best place I have ever lived.

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