Letter to the Editor: Corvallis not a small town

General Opinion Graphic

M. Boyd Wilcox

“Corvallis is a small town…” begins the story on page 7 of the Nov. 19, 2018 issue. I beg to differ. Corvallis is a small CITY, not small town. I know the difference, having grown up in one. My “hometown” had around 3,000 people; it was the county seat, and was considered the “big, small town” surrounded by truly small towns of a few hundred residents.

Allowing for wiggle room in the perception of folks who come from a range of city sizes, there are distinct characteristics, most of which involve two areas of observation:anonymity and scale, and complexity. Walk the main streets of any small town, and people will look you in the eye as you pass by, nod or say a “hello” and perhaps stop for a longer conversation. Not true here in Corvallis. I’m continually amazed, during my walks in Willamette Park, how many people I encounter (ones I don’t know personally) who do not even look at me or recognize my existence. I always say “hello” to them, which stuns and knocks them out their state of isolation, their “bubble” of non recognition, as they finally utter a reply. They most likely came here from a much larger metropolitan area, and have been conditioned, by the overpopulation pressure surrounding them, to essentially ignore individuals.

Scale & Complexity reveals itself via a long list of conditions. As Corvallis has grown, so have the number of stoplights, boards and commissions, rules and regulations, traffic congestion, neighborhood destruction/transformation, etc. all established to“manage” our collective affairs. And because we passed the 50,000 mark, (plus OSU’s exorbitant growth) big box stores and out-of-town/state development interests play a more significant part in our economy, much to the detriment of local businesses and community preferences. Bottom line: Corvallis has long passed the “small town” marker. Call it what you will, or a “small city” but PLEASE don’t confuse it with the genuine item.

M. Boyd Wilcox

OSU class of 1966

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