It would be an understatement to say that the number one topic of conversation, these days, is how the Valley is changing and how it’s impacting our way of life. I’d like to add to the dialogue, and perhaps, broaden the discussion. Arleah and I have learned a lot about cultural change, from our exposure to living and working in a vast array of environments and geographies. We have lived in a number of places within our country; I have lived abroad; I have consulted in thirty countries, and we have logged five and a half million air miles.
What I want to discuss is the not-so-obvious changes that can be expected when a significant number of people re-locate their home lives and/or base of operations, to a locality that has been “discovered.” A locality that seems to offer a safer, more attractive, less stressful, and generally more inviting way of life. And I want to emphasize that this is not a “whoa-is-me” whine about how life in the Valley is going to be irreparably ruined by “outsiders” moving in. As objective as I can be, this is simply a prediction of the impact of new arrivals on the culture of the Valley; with an emphasize on individual behavior and interpersonal relationships. I am not optimistic, nor pessimistic about the coming changes – I am realistic.
First, The Good Stuff: People moving here, from primarily urban and suburban communities, will bring a wealth of resources, talents, skills, and experience in building and growing organizations. They will add to the economic base and create new opportunities for employment, internships, and apprenticeships. For young people, in particular, they will benefit from an expansion of the horizons of possibilities that people from other worlds will bring with them. This can be exhilarating and scary, and push people to find the limits of their self-information.
Second, The Challenging Stuff: People who have lived the majority of their lives in urban, suburban and exurban communities, have developed ways of dealing with each other, that protect them from the pressures and demands of population density, overburdened transportation networks, and schedule-driven lives. They often develop, as part of their persona, an interpersonal, emotional shield, that guarantees a modicum of privacy, as well as a defense against unwanted intrusion (one of the ironies of urban life, with its high population density, is the constant battle with isolation). This defensive structure can come across as off-putting, superior or patronizing. In essence, initial interactions with people from “outside” environments can take much patience and an understanding that this new person is not angry with them, or just trying to give them a hard time – it’s not personal – they treat everyone that way: Until they trust you.
One More Note: High population density and high stress lifestyles, create challenges for law enforcement and healthcare agencies. Higher crime rates, especially involving property crimes, correlate with density, as well as spontaneous, anonymous violence. In addition, self-abuse is more prominent, and suicide attempts and successes accelerate. This takes planning, and, often, some restructuring to effectively deal with.
Take charge of your personal and professional life with two of my most important books: “Working Without A Net” and “Fifth Wave Leadership: The Internal Frontier” available online at my store here — https://morrieshechtman.com/store/