Walla Walla gains mentions in magazine feature - Etcetera - 8/22/13

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The Atlantic magazine online included an item on Monday by James Fallows that gives readers the opportunity to talk about why their towns are special and would appeal to visitors.

Examining West Coast options, folks weighed in from Bend, Ore., Watsonville, Calif., and Walla Walla. Click here to read the piece.

In 2011, Bend’s population was 77,905, Watsonville’s was 51,586 and Walla Walla’s was 32,148.

The writers are not identified, but here’s what two Walla Walla fans wrote:

“A crossroads of old wheat families, new high-end winemakers, three colleges, and a state penitentiary, Walla Walla is a geographical oasis in southeastern Washington in constant tension with itself. There’s the picturesque, from undulating hills to an award-winning Main Street (that beat the outlier mall) and an award for the “friendliest small town in America” (per Rand McNally and USA Today). There are also showdowns that pit senior citizens against schoolchildren and have the city barring free library access for county residents a mile away. The name may be famous — it’s the city so nice they named it twice — but it’s not so easy to figure out what this small town is all about.

Also: “It is a contrast to the dominant themes one mostly reads about — i.e., all smart, capable people are fleeing to metropolitan areas leaving the rest of the country fallow. Although the wine industry was founded in Walla Walla (W2) in the early ’70s, the industry has really taken off in the last 10 years with individuals from around the U.S. and world flocking to this former bucolic farming town to seek their fortunes in wine or in related industries that support the wine industry. The result: WA wine rising to be recognized as world class. Although W2 is not threatening to abscond large swaths of those who desire to live in a metropolis, its recent success shows that smaller U.S. towns and cities can thrive if they find their own niche and create an environment where outsiders are welcomed and can use their talents to benefit the community. Americans are generally characterized as problem solvers that like a challenge. I take comfort in the idea of a certain segment of our population forgoing metropolitan life in favor of keeping our small cities and towns vibrant. W2 seems like a shining example for others seeking such a journey.”

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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