If you haven’t read the first post I wrote about Pacific County, you can read it here.
This article was posted a year and a half ago (summer, 2014), right after I moved back to Pacific County. It mostly talks about my loyalty to the north end of the county. True to my word, I recently bought a house within Raymond city limits — so I’m planning on being around for a while.
Living in Raymond and working in Ilwaco, however, has given me some new insight into the makeup of our county. When I first started working down south (about a month before I posted that first article) I always liked to say, “my heart is in north county.” Strangely enough, the south end is the only place that talks about “north county” and “south county.” The north end barely acknowledges the existence of the south end which comes from, in my assessment, the fact that the county seat is in South Bend (sorry Oysterville).
Now my tune has changed a bit in regards to the split and where my metaphorical heart lies. I coached JV Volleyball at Ilwaco High School in the fall of 2015 (go Lady Fishermen!). The girls that I coached… and the parents… and the staff at Ocean Beach SD… really threw my hardcore VALLEY GIRL status for a bit of a loop and I began to feel like a Fisherman. Then when my apartment burned down, the girls on the Varsity team raised a bunch of money for me to be able to replace my lost things. They presented me with a check after a home game and I was absolutely astonished with the selflessness of these high school girls.
“I’ve only known you guys like a month!”
“That’s all it takes, Allie.”
Of course, when my boyfriend’s house (and my residence at the time) burned down in January (two house fires in five months — hilarious, right?), the north end pulled together and raised him money for his kids, sent cards, people called, checked in, and stopped by to see if we needed a hand. It was overwhelming.
The loyalty and the love exists countywide.
So that’s it, I am all-in in both ends of the county. The north I am grandfathered in — that’s where my roots are; the south is where I blossomed (for metaphorical continuity).
So how is any of this relevant?
It’s not uncommon for me to talk about what I do at work, the people I work with, and the resulting positive changes that I see in the Ilwaco/Long Beach/Ocean Park communities. It’s also not uncommon for people in the north end to express their dissatisfaction with the fact that the same opportunities/agencies/organizations don’t exist in the north end.
“Why doesn’t someone start one of those up here?”
Let me be the first to say: if you want something to happen, you’re a person who can make that happen. I’m not being facetious, and I’m not trying to sound condescending. I mean what I’m saying with every ounce of sincerity. For things to happen in a small community — for meaningful change to transpire– all it takes is someone with an idea and a bunch of energy (and sometimes money, but that comes later).
I can very clearly see a shift already happening in the north end. It may be easier to see from my point of view because I work directly with those who are doing the shifting, but slowly the change will become apparent to the broader community. Young, educated people are moving home. This is a good thing. There’s a swell of motivation bubbling just below the crusty surface in Raymond and in order for it to break through, we need the community to commit to supporting our hometown; whether that means volunteering, donating, or simply changing your mindset.
South county still has a lot of changes to make too, but they’re actively working on making those changes. The two ends are undeniably very different, and what success looks like in comparison might be night and day — but the avenues for identifying those issues are the same.
North and south need to lean on each other. We need some solidarity within the county. We need to start conversations between the two ends and for our community leaders to come together. Raymond needs long-term solutions for economic development and that is one area in which we could surely learn from Long Beach. I can imagine how disheartening it must have been to watch a booming logging town begin to disintegrate, but it’s time for someone to dig their heels in and get the momentum moving in the other direction.