Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tension Between Two Worlds

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This week we have been staying with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and their 4-year-old son in Woodland, Washington, which is about 30 miles north of Vancouver, Washington. It has been great. Like many of the towns near the Columbia, some of its industry depends on shipping by boat and also train. In addition, there are berry “farms” and tulips. I need to go see the tulip “operations.” According to Jon, the labor force is again all Hispanic in the fields. You can’t tell that by the areas of town where we have been, however. We’re staying a ways out of town, and out here views are gorgeous, lots are measured in acres and houses vary in size but tend toward the more expansive. Neighbors on one side have a few cows, on the other chickens, and across the street alpacas! But not much diversity when it comes to homeowners… The street names – and some of the people now living here – are descendants of Finns. Finn Hall is just down the road, Wiere Rd., Lathi Rd., etc. The main roads through here were originally logging roads, which are still evident as you get further up the mountain. But little evidence is visible of the Hispanic labor force that keeps things growing. I saw three guys working up on the roof of a gas station in the middle of the scorching heat. When I went to the grocery store around 6 p.m., I saw a couple of groups of men who had just gotten back from the fields doing some shopping and a couple of families as well.

These two worlds seldom meet. Is it a wonder that – sometimes when they do – there is tension?

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