I’m a Wannabe Exurbian

Beuatiful Homes

Without knowing it, I’ve had it in the back of my mind to someday become an exurbian in the small town of Princeton, Illinois.  Or make that an exurbanite, according to the online dictionary I found. I’d never even heard of the term exurb before reading the article below.  I just knew that Princeton seemed like a great community to own a little house to retire in.  Apparently I’m not the only one to think so.

According to the dictionary, an exurb is “a region lying beyond the suburbs of a city, especially one inhabited principally by wealthy people.” Hmm, so maybe my dream is reaching a bit, since I can’t see myself ever achieving “wealthy” status, at least not in terms of greenbacks and dollar signs.  I wonder, though, if Princeton would agree with that definition.

I lived just a few miles from Princeton most of my life.  For about nineteen of those my home was only twenty minutes away and I spent a lot of time there since it was the closest town of any size.  There are quite a few large beautiful houses along the principal streets in town like the photos in the article, but I never knew any of the people that lived in them.  Most folks I knew were simple, middle-income families who seldom went to the big city of Chicago and certainly couldn’t be defined as rich in material goods.

There is something different about the town though.  When I knew I was going to move back to Illinois from Seattle, it seemed like the perfect compromise for me between city and country living; it feels like it could be a Seattle neighborhood, just a short bus ride from all the bustle and congestion of the downtown streets.  Maybe that’s what Chicagoan think, too.  Princeton, just a short train ride from the excitement and chaos of inner-city streets.

Princeton’s emergence as a far-out locale for a handful of ultralong-distance commuters isn’t unique in an Internet-connected age. But the hometown of abolitionist Owen Lovejoy, actor Richard Widmark and a Doobie Brothers drummer is getting its day in the sun with more frequent and reliable train service—service scheduled to grow in 2015 with the addition of four daily trains between Iowa City, Iowa, and Chicago.

via Is downstate Princeton the hot new exurb? – Business Of Life – Crain’s Chicago Business.

I’m Coming Home

I’m hitting the road today, leaving beautiful Seattle for the inland Midwestern town of LaSalle.  You may remember from my post I wrote a while ago that LaSalle is where I grew up and went to school.  In that sense it is always home to me, but it will never have the same appeal and beauty as the Pacific Northwest.

There is, however, a small town about a half hour from LaSalle that will help make the transition less painful.  Princeton, while smaller than LaSalle, is like a small mecca calling to me.  The quaint little shops,  the rolling fields, and the wonderful friends that live in the surrounding area, all have a charm and personality that suit me very well.

One of the reasons is Princeton’s penchant for promoting the arts.  I was delighted to find the article below recently, because it talks about the Prairie Arts Council and the Princeton Coffeehouse.  I was one of the group, along with Deb Young mentioned below, who helped start these organizations.  Like my friend Ron McCutchen says in the paragraph quoted below, I am one of those drawn back to this town.

Deb Young is President of the Prairie Arts Council. A Princeton native, she’d lived in Minneapolis for 10 years before returning in 1982.

“When I came back there wasn’t anything that had to do with the arts at all.”

So, Young opened up an art gallery. Then Young found out something. She was not alone. She was asked to form a fine arts committee that put on an outdoor fine arts festival for a number of years. Young also helped start what became the Princeton Coffeehouse.

“Come to find out there was a lot of people looking for things like that, that wanted to take part in this type of thing.”

There had been an arts council in town, but it had gone defunct. Young was asked to start one up again, and with the help of others, she did.

One of those helping was Ron McCutchan, director of programming at the Princeton Public Library. He says that he, Young and Festival 56 theater company founder Dexter Brigham are examples of why the arts started to take off in this spot.

“There’s something about Princeton that brings people back. I mean Dexter went to New York, toured, [then] came back here to start something. I went to New York, worked in publishing, came back to take a publishing job and ended up staying in Princeton here at the library. And I’ve had other friends do the same.”

via Princeton: Arts Big In Small Town | WNIJ and WNIU.