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By Anna

In the November/December issue of the Utne Reader “an educator challenges society’s assumptions about intelligence, work, and class” in an essay about the lost intelligence of the working class, the blue collar community.

Coming from a blue collar, rodeo rearing, gossip-ridden town in Montana, where you’ll run into someone you know every time you leave the house, I left town right after high school. But once a year, usually Christmas, I, the college-educated elite, venture back to my working class roots and act as though I’m better than all the ones who stayed.

“If we think that whole categories of people—identified by class or occupation— are not that bright, then we reinforce social separation and cripple our ability to talk across cultural divides,” said Mike Rose from Utne.

I’ve spent thousands of dollars studying a minor I leave on the hook of my Minneapolis home as soon as I head for the mountains. I study cross-cultural missions at Bethel and learn how to relate to people from other cultures in order to someday not only educate them biblically, but for them to educate me culturally.

There were times in my two weeks in Montana when I thought I was better than all my peers who are “stuck” in Great Falls. Because I’ve read multiple 1,000 page books in one year and now live in the most intellectual city in America. But I’m not free from ignorance, no one is; yet I perpetuate the stereotypes of community college students and gunslinging Baptists because I can’t see past my pride and recognize the value of another culture.

Instead of staying indoors all Christmas or ducking behind shelves at Barnes and Noble to avoid that 12th grade math teacher. I said hello to my sophomore biology teacher and senior English teacher to continually glean that blue-collar wisdom that might just be necessary for reconciliation and a more holistic future for America.

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By Ryan

Talking Heads – “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody)”

LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends”

I should start by admitting that the idea of home can be a bit of an abstract concept.  While most of what I’m writing about here pertains to the technical definition of home as a geographic area, the modern idea of home often refers to a state of mind or being that may be completely unattached from any physical location.  Home is a friend’s laugh, a lover’s arms, or “where you make it.”  Try as I might, I’ve never been able to fully think of home this way, and I think that’s part of my trouble in finding it.

All the holiday travel tends to highlight the issue for me, as I’m sure it does for many others in the post-college-pre-marriage-and-kids crowd.  It seems like most everyone I know fits in to one of three broad categories and their subcategories:

1: Hometown

1A: People who never thought to leave (or never had the opportunity)

1B: People who always planned on going back

1C: People who realized that they wanted to go back

2: Major or mid-major city in close proximity to one’s hometown

2A: People who don’t want to go too far from friends/family

2B: People whose work requires them to live somewhere other than their hometown

2C: People who realized they wanted to go back to their hometown, but can’t deal with the stigma of being a lifer

3: Somewhere completely different

3A: People who want to get away from their friends/family

3B: People whose work requires them to live far away from their hometown

3C: People who travel, move a lot, are in the military/a band/a cult, secret agents

In some weird way, these categories almost function as a spectrum, where the higher one moves in the grouping, the more success one is thought to have professionally and/or academically, but, conversely, the lower one moves in the groupings, the more comfortable one is with their place in the world, both geographically and socially.  There’s a reason the most popular kids from your high school act like they still own the town while the most interesting and ambitious ones are almost embarrassed to be seen there, and it almost certainly has to do with the perceptions related to these distinctions of place.

I’m not advocating that either of these views are completely accurate, but they certainly do hold some nugget of truth in my own life, and I’ve been a 1C, a 2A, a 2B, a 3A, and a 3B in the last five years.  I’d love to have grown up somewhere that made me feel solidly in the 1 camp, I’d be happy if my career goals allowed me in the 2 squad, but right now I’m a 3 who misses the best parts of the first two while enjoying the opportunities afforded by his current position.  This makes it hard to ever feel completely at home, but I know that being anywhere else would pose other issues that would likely leave me feeling the same way.  It’s a weird stage in life, but I’ll get through it, and, when I do, I’ll exchange stories with you about how silly we were looking for some abstract idea in such specific places.