While I was away on vacation last week, a lot of my local friends spread this article via social media by The Citizens’ Voice.
The article pertains to a study done by economists at Harvard University and the University of British Columbia Canada. The study found that the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metro area is the unhappiest region in the U.S. Here is what the article states:
Economists with Harvard University and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, looked at telephone polls from 2005 to 2009 organized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among a slew of health and lifestyle questions was, “How satisfied are you with your life?”
At least 300,000 people in the U.S. answered that question each year. The study’s authors picked 177 metro areas that garnered at least 200 respondents each year. Even controlling for age, race, gender and other demographic factors, Northeastern Pennsylvanians were most likely in the country to tell pollsters their lives are unsatisfying.
Everyone knows the rust belt regions lack jobs, and that’s nothing new. Yet, as my friend Charlotte Lewis pointed out in the article, this area has a fairly strong artistic community. For the last three years, I’ve hosted a reading series and brought in writers from around the northeast region and from as far away as Chicago, and all of them were impressed by the city and the reading series. Furthermore, there are countless other literary events in the area, including open mics at The Vintage, open mics at Embassy Vinyl, locally produced plays, not to mention the visiting authors that the local colleges host. In addition, there’s a strong First Friday art walk in downtown Scranton and now a Third Friday art walk in Wilkes-Barre that is only growing. There’s a local music scene, and there’s easy access to NYC via bus. Philly is just a two hour car ride, while Boston and DC are only a few hours away, too. So, I’m unsure why people complain about the area so much. It’s certainly not lacking in terms of things to do or its access to other cities. The economy is troubled, yes, but that is nothing knew in the rust belt region of the U.S.
If people feel unhappy, then why don’t they do something about it? I have countless friends that have started wonderful artistic events in this area, but what about those that just complain about everything? If they’re fed up with the politics, then why not run for city council, county office, or school board? If they think there’s nothing to do, then why don’t they start something?
I’m glad that some of the quotes in the article praised what there is to do here and the growing artistic community. I feel fortunate to live in a place that has reading series, art walks, theater, several colleges, and short car rides to major East Coast cities.