BlueCity to RedCity
May 11, 2011 7:56 AM   Subscribe

preparing to move from a large progressive city to a small extremely conservative one - any advice?

my partner and I are moving from Austin, TX to Tallahassee, FL so that she can go to graduate school. For various reasons, this is the best choice for now, but I'm worried that our easy-going, left-leaning, progressive lifestyles in Austin might not fit Tallahassee's "good old boy" conservatism. I grew up in Tallahassee, so I know what it's like, but I need help with ways to cope with the outside world (I work from home). Should I begin retreat into some project, embrace the new world, or...? My wife will be mostly studying/working in a good department, so this question is mostly for me, the stay-at-home-and-go-crazy spouse.
posted by youchirren to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are awesome people everywhere. Tallahassee? I bet there are all sorts of weirdos wandering around there that trip the light fantastic and live in dome houses made out of seashells. You just have to find them.
posted by ian1977 at 8:02 AM on May 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

Find a charity project that fits with your progressive/liberal views, and start volunteering. You'll get out of the house, meet plenty of like-minded people, and contribute something worthwhile to your new community.
posted by maybeandroid at 8:16 AM on May 11, 2011

Go find the outlier networks and kidnap people from them to be your friends. Even in conservative cities, there will be food coops, queer organisations, open source meetups, artists collectives, and all that good stuff.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:18 AM on May 11, 2011

Check out they might be your kind of people.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:31 AM on May 11, 2011

I just moved from NYC to Colorado Springs. ian1977 is right: There are awesome people everywhere.
posted by mochapickle at 8:32 AM on May 11, 2011

My wife and I moved from Pittsburgh to Laramie, Wyoming. Wyoming is just about the most conservative state there is. Laramie is a college town, so it's fairly liberal in its own way, but yeah, it's in Wyoming.

Honestly, it's been kind of invigorating to live in an area where the viewpoint of a majority of people is different from mine. It can be frustrating, but I've also gotten a better feel for why people feel differently from how I do, and it's helped me see where people are coming from easier.

Also, if there's something going on that I really don't agree with, I know that it's important that I speak up about it, because there might not be many other people that will. So there's more of a feeling of responsibility, I guess.

As others have said, there are good people everywhere, even if they don't agree with everything you say or feel. Try and take that and make it a learning experience.
posted by elder18 at 8:50 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Conservatives aren't sitting around rubbing their hairy bellies, yelling at their pregnant wives to get back in the kitchen and planning on how to run that no good librul that just moved in next door out of town. This is not how it works.

I bet you find you have a lot more in common with people in your socioeconomic circle regardless of how they identify their politics than you will with say liberal/lefty politicions in D.C. Assumming you are in the grad student circle, they will also care about getting the best education and the best job possible (however they identify it) once they are out of school. They may disagree about the best path to achieve a good society but I have found most people agree on what a good society means in all the ways that matter. Take a minute to actually find out why someone believes one political course of action is better than another and you will probably find more common ground than not.

And yea awesome people and assholes are everywhere. Turns out they don't really care if they live in a 'blue' or 'red' state, and they sure don't check at the state line. And political beliefs aren't nearly so simple as to evenly divide into 'blue' and 'red' except on 24 hour news channels. No reason i can see why a persons views on abortion and gun rights and illegal immigration should really be related except for maybe a personality style, like awesome or asshole.
posted by bartonlong at 9:25 AM on May 11, 2011 [5 favorites]

I lived in Austin, and could never quite figure out why the residents kept saying they had such easy-going, left-leaning, progressive lifestyles. Maybe if you were comparing it to WASPy enclaves in the northeast, or military towns in the south and midwest, yeah, but I never really found it to be that much different than most other places, save for lots of high-quality consumer experiences.

As for Tallahassee being 'conservative':

Leon County, Florida gave 61.7% of their vote to Barack Obama in the 2008 election.

Travis County, Texas gave 64.1%

This is what I'd call 'statistically insignificant'.
posted by The Giant Squid at 9:58 AM on May 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

The nice thing about small towns is that all the weirdos get to hang out together. I often comment that if my friends and I lived in a bigger city we would never have met since we're different in terms of fashion, music, etc. My goth-y friend and my punk friend and me (kind of hipster-nerd) would never have gone to the same shows. But here in my southeastern town, there's one 'alternative' bar in town and that's where we all go. And we hang out and have a great time. And rag on each other for being weird.

Also hobbies that when I lived in SF were so done, are totally weird and welcoming and you can be the expert. It's pretty awesome actually. Very liberating.
posted by hydrobatidae at 10:09 AM on May 11, 2011

How long ago did you live in Tallahassee? I currently live in the SF Bay Area having moved out of TLH in '06 and wouldn't describe the place as being particularly conservative. In fact, both Austin and Tallahassee have the same "island of sane in a sea of crazy" vibe.

My recommendation: get involved with local arts, hang out at All Saints Cafe, go visit First Friday in Railroad Square, get drinks at Waterworks, eat good food at Kool Beans Cafe, get a $5 vegetarian lunch at the Krishna Lunch at the International Student Center on FSU campus, work out at the Tallahassee city pools, go start a pillow fight on Landis green, go juggle with the weirdos on Sunday mornings at Lake Ella, go buy yummy food from old farmers at Market Square on Saturday mornings, go swimming in sinkholes and smoke pot with the hippies that frequent them, go stay at the Hostel in the Forest and meet even more lefties, go hang out with the various Tallahassee atheist groups and the Tallahassee Skeptics society... and that's just off the top of my head.

TLH isn't Pensacola. I promise, you're worried about nothing.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 11:01 AM on May 11, 2011

I'll also add that I stayed in Tallahassee after most of my friends left, and, yeah, if you grew up in Killearn or Buck Lake and went to Leon or NFC and left when you were 18, I can absolutely understand why you'd have the impression of Tallahassee that you do - most of my friends who left after high school did for a long while until they returned and explored. Tallahassee is unique in that the city is very much what you make of it, and to hydrobatidae's point (and I've written about this in the past), the city's small enough that there's a greater opportunity for social growth than lots of other places.

But mostly, I just left the Fermentation Lounge off my things-in-TLH list
posted by TheNewWazoo at 11:13 AM on May 11, 2011

Your questions smacks of elitism to me. I moved from Kansas to Portland, OR - the opposite of your plan - knowing that my conservative background would go against the grain here. And guess what? I *love* visiting the "crazy, left-leaning liberal" parts of the city. I might not agree with "those people" politically, but I'm glad I live here. They make life a lot less boring that it might otherwise be.

I know you said you grew up in Tallahassee so I'm guessing you're actually uncomfortable with your past there (and your past interactions with people who didn't approve of your leanings). Try to let it go and just enjoy life wherever you're at.
posted by tacodave at 1:09 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

keep religion and politics out of your conversations and find the groups that you work well with.

There are awesome people everywhere, there are also weirdos everywhere. Sometimes you're on one side, sometimes the other ;)

I have no problem making friends with people I don't exactly agree with, as long as they're also those same type of people, and they most likely feel the same way. So you just need to find your niche
posted by zombieApoc at 1:36 PM on May 11, 2011

Obama carried Leon county in 2008, with 68% of the vote. Kerry beat Bush there, as did Gore.

So the Tallahassee you grew up in may be less than representative?
posted by at at 6:07 PM on May 11, 2011

« Older How to Redirect or Block Most Audio Output?   |   Song to be read (not sung) at a wedding? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.