Approximately 1.25 million people live in the Red River basin. But why? People from outside the region can find many reasons not to live here – from the harsh climate and frequency of natural disasters (tornadoes, floods, blizzards) to the flatness of the land and perceived lack of what is commonly considered beautiful scenery.
But why do you live here? This question was posed at a series of community forums Red River Basin Commission following the 2009 flood as a first, important step in its Long-Term Flood Solutions study.
It could be argued that we shouldn’t have to defend why we live here. But this may be a good time to affirm why we do live here. And it may be an important answer at a time when we are looking to state and federal sources to assist with solutions to basin flooding.
So why do we live here in the Red River basin?
One of the reasons that emerged was about living on the land. The Homestead Act of 1862 encouraged living on the land by stipulating that homesteaders “improve” the land they claim – and live on it for at least five years. Those stipulations resulted, for many, in intimate relationships with the land. Farmsteads became homes. Over the years, they became family history – even family legacy. One person summarized, “families carved a life out of the land.”
Quality of life is another reason for living here. People appreciate knowing their neighbours and having them help and “pull together” in difficult times. Other quality-of-life reasons include quiet small-town
living, quality schools, safety, and a wholesome and healthy environment. Many cite the basin as a good place to raise a family – or as a retreat from large-city living.
Yet another reason for living in the basin offered by meeting participants are the opportunities offered by the area. They cited agricultural land that is second to none in providing food for the world, together with “world-class” manufacturing and service industries. The opportunities, moreover, are not fleeting. One person pointed out the region’s strong showing in the current economic crisis. Another described the constant “hope” offered by the basin – that, even in drier times, crops continue to come through.
Other reasons emerged at the meetings. Some mentioned the area’s natural resources, in
particular, the unique wildlife. Others enjoy the recreation, or simply find the basin itself a “beautiful place to live.”
So why do you live in the Red River basin?
This is a good question to contemplate as we pull together as neighbours, between cities and rural areas, among states, and between countries, to make our home even better by addressing solutions to basin flooding.
Peoplefromoutsidetheregioncanfindmany reasonsnottolivehere–fromtheharsh climateandfrequencyofnaturaldisasters (tornadoes,floods,blizzards)totheflatness ofthelandandperceivedlackofwhatis commonlyconsideredbeautifulscenery.