Torsten and I have been living in Colorado for about two and a half years. We love it, and we're planning on staying here for the rest of our lives. But there's no denying that we aren't Colorado natives. Callum is, though. And now that I have a kid who's considered a Colorado native, does that mean I have more of a right to live here myself?
Because the thing is, Torsten and I aren't the only people who've noticed how awesome Colorado is. According to the Census bureau, Colorado's population grew by 16.9% from 2000 to 2010 (9.7% is the national average). According to the Denver Post, the state had the fourth highest growth rate in the country in 2008, and the seventh highest growth rate in the country over the past decade. The Post estimates that more than 50% of that growth came from people moving here from other states and countries.
And really, you can hardly blame them. Colorado is awesome. The weather is fantastic (we are known for our cold winters, and while we definitely have our cold moments, what some people don't realize is that we also have lots of mild snaps in the winter, with sunny days in the 60s, which more than makes up for some sub-zero snowy days, in my opinion). There's no humidity. The mountains are absolutely gorgeous, and so great for exploring in both summer and winter. The people are nice. We have a major airport. It's very dog-friendly. Denver is a good-size city and Boulder is a lovely smaller town. We have an excellent public university system. The cost of living is reasonable. And so on and so forth. Basically, there are a ton of reasons why we decided to move here when we could have moved anywhere--and obviously we weren't the only ones to come to that conclusion.
So, there are a lot of people living in Colorado who aren't from Colorado. Which is fine! Yay for an interconnected world where we don't all just set up house on our parents' property, or marry into the family on the next farm over, right?
Except that all these Colorado natives like to complain about the transplants. They complain that they're a drag on resources, that they're leading to urban sprawl, that they don't care about Colorado's heritage or its beauty, that they place undue pressure on fragile ecosystems, that they contribute to pollution and development and destruction. Some of the more conservative people also complain that the transplants, who for the most part tend to be more politically liberal and drawn to the Denver-Boulder corridor, are making this once-conservative place into a swing state.
Personally, as you can guess, I don't agree with most of these complaints. I love Colorado in a way that I've never loved anywhere that I lived before. I care about it. I take advantage of what it has to offer. And I boost its economy by living here, spending money here, and paying taxes here. I don't mind the tourists, either (and there are lots of tourists because of Colorado's great skiing), because they are a huge part of Colorado's economy as well.
I also don't see what being born and raised here has to do with how much you appreciate this state and how well you care for it. In fact, I think the argument could be reversed to say that the transplants moved here because they wanted to be here, whereas people who were born here might take it for granted. But that wouldn't make much sense either. Really, we are all given the opportunity to be responsible stewards of our homes, whether we've lived in the same place all our lives or not, you know?
But I do think it's pretty amusing that this clash has led to what I personally consider to be snooty bumper stickers. They are a play on the Colorado license plate, which looks like this:
Except they say NATIVE, like this, as though that's something transplants should be jealous of:
And of course, now there are the counter-stickers, which say TRANSPLANT, like this:
And I recently saw one that was in the same format but simply said BITE ME. Unclear if this was a big eff you to the entire back and forth, or simply a nod to Colorado's fly fishing opportunities. Either way, it made me laugh. My Google searching for these images also led me to variations that say things like XENOPHOBE and NO VACANCY. Strong feelings on both sides, apparently, as expressed through bumper stickers.
Even the state of Colorado has jumped on the bandwagon, offering a Pioneers license plate that, until recently, was only available to people who could prove that they were the descendant of someone who lived in Colorado 100 years ago (and the only reason the state stopped requiring this and started making the design available to everyone was because they found out that asking for this information was illegal):
What about where you live? Are there lots of people moving in? Or moving out? Are there tensions between people who've lived there forever and people who have newly arrived? Do you think it matters?
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