Home The Soapbox The Soapbox: Yes, it’s as great here as the outsiders suggest

The Soapbox: Yes, it’s as great here as the outsiders suggest


It’s too easy to take things for granted.

It’s just as easy to get a skewed sense of where we stand when complaining ranks among our great, national pastimes.

So, speaking of rankings, it’s worth looking at and considering what outsiders have been discovering about the Fox Cities.

Appleton this week was listed within the top five cities in terms of lowest poverty rate by 24/7 Wall St.

Last month, Money Magazine listed Appleton among its 100 best places to live in America. Earlier this year, livability.com had Appleton tallied in its 100 best places list. We’re consistently within lists of the safest metro areas in the nation.

Let all that sink in. 

Earlier this week, I had the displeasure of overhearing the tired and implication-heavy gripe that “things aren’t like they used to be” because of “everybody coming up here from Milwaukee and Chicago.”

The implications are an anger-inducing story for a different day. Today, let’s ponder why it can be so difficult to see how good we truly have it here. 

We’re all guilty at some level for failing to see beyond our bubble. 

Pick any news-site comments section — of any number of Facebook groups –and you’d get a far different picture of the Fox Cities than the glowing write-ups referenced above.

I bit my tongue at the nearby conversation  I’ll use this space to set the record straight in a manner I like to think I would have had I been in a fightin’ mood.

Who are we in the Fox Cities? 

We’re people who take care of one another. 

Our community safety net is strong and woven tightly thanks to the tireless efforts of those in agencies such as Pillars, Leaven and the St. Joseph Food Program. 

We support those suffering from mental illness, disabilities and addictions. Hell, many of us head out to massive fundraisers for folks we don’t know when medical emergencies heap financial struggles on top of their health-related stresses.

We care about our kids. The positive outlets and opportunities are too many to list. It starts with great schools and includes libraries, Boys and Girls Clubs, arts programs, youth sports, YMCAs and more.

So what about this location?

We’re baby bear’s porridge … we’re just right.

We’re small in some ways and big and others. We’re a short drive from picturesque farm fields and nature experiences. We’re only a couple hours from the hustle, bustle, endless concrete and wall-to-wall traffic of the big city experience. 

We’re small enough to know one another and generally feel safe. We have great parks and public amenities. There’s plenty enough of the enriching, bigger city stuff. The PAC brings in Broadway and other major acts. Our symphony and Lawrence University offers opportunities to expand our musical horizons.

We have museums, a vibrant music scene and minor league sports.

For those who prefer the big leagues, Lambeau Field is a shorter drive for those in the Fox Cities than Soldier Field is for many in Chicago. 

In short, I like it here and couldn’t think of a better place to call home. What more could we want?

No, things aren’t like they used to be — and I’m thrilled by that.

We continue to grow and we’ve come into our own as a safe, compassionate place with opportunities to learn and plenty to enjoy.

I think we’ve been making our way down a fairly awesome path. 

You don’t believe me?

I could suggest a few national writers who’ve had some things to say.

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