It seems somewhat ironic to me that a men’s magazine based in New York City would run an article about the “Best Places to Raise a Family.” The irony comes in the fact that New Yorkers have the longest commute of anyone in the country. The unemployment and violent crime rate in New York is through the roof and the city has consistently been at the top of “Most Stressful Places to Live” list. I seem to remember someone somewhere saying something about people in glass houses.{mosimage}
But I digress. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Fayetteville was recently named one of the    “Worse Places to Raise a Family” by Best Life, a New York-based men’s magazine. This comes as news to those of us who are raising children in the community, and probably to those who have already raised their children here and are watching their children raise their children here. Of course, who are we to question the wisdom of the big city journalist (who probably has never stepped foot in our city or any of the cities they dubbed as losers).
    The list was put together by pulling statistics on things that are important in family life: safety, schools, teacher to student ratio, above average test scores, museums, parks, pediatricians on the good side and multi-hour commutes, expensive houses and divorce rates on the negative side. The magazine pulled statistics about 257 cities in the United States from a variety of sources and based solely on the numbers created their list. And, as someone once said about statistics — Lies, damn lies and statistics.
    Are the publishers of Best Life asking us to believe that Los Angeles, which is home to gridlock traffic, poor air quality, a teeming homeless population and all out gang warfare really a better place to raise a family than Fayetteville, N.C.? Really?
    Fayetteville and Cumberland County have its share of problems. Yes, we do not spend as much per student on education as do some bigger cities. Why? We don’t have the tax base to do it. And yes, we have a high divorce rate. We also have families who are living in pressure cookers faced with deployment, after deployment, after deployment. Do we have a shortage of pediatricians? It wouldn’t surprise me. North Carolina as a whole has long had a shortage of physicians. But our community and its people are more than what we aren’t.
    We are a community of neighbors. Yes, we know the guy who lives next door and across the street and two houses down. We borrow tools from each other and our kids play together. And at our churches, our children don’t have just one parent — every adult in the church claims them as their own. Our teachers know our children by name. They aren’t just the kid in the third row. When my husband deploys, my son’s teachers hang his picture on the wall so my son can have that piece of him. When my son was struggling with reading, it was his teacher who fought alongside me to get him the help he needed. She was the one who started her day praying for my child.
    We’re still a town where people take food to their neighbors who are sick. We grill out on the Fourth of July and invite everybody over. We still have Veteran’s Day Parades and festivals in our parks. We are a community where art lives. You want a museum — just turn a corner and there’s one right there. Look at our library system and see how it thrives. Fayetteville is a community that embraces learning in all of its different facets. There are three centers of higher learning within our city’s boundaries. No, I don’t think Fayetteville is that bad of a place at all.
    We are a city that is gracious — even to big city journalists who wouldn’t know a community with heart if it opened its doors and invited him in.

Contact Janice Burton at 

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