The first time I moved to Door County 21 years ago, it felt a whole lot simpler. We were still smarter than our cell phones back then, and they were too chunky to carry around anyway, so a great cell signal wasn’t a necessity. In that world where clouds existed only in the sky, and data wasn’t a commodity to be bought, sold, stolen and streamed, dial-up internet service was perfectly sufficient – at least for a while.
That was a world where health-care costs didn’t consume 25 percent of your monthly take-home pay, and housing stock was varied enough that you could find something that allowed you to have shelter and food.
I am by no means wealthy by the First World definition of the word, and neither is that definition the one I use to define wealth for myself or others. Still, my partner and I are two mature adults with a few assets and enough experience to be able to maneuver around a little more easily. The young person I was when I first moved up here would not have been able to do this in today’s conditions.
It can’t be easy for young people and families to move here these days. Census data tell us that story. The median age in Door County in 2010 was 49.4. Today, the estimate is around 52.4, compared with 39.1 for the whole state. Certainly the numbers would reflect that young people prefer the amenities that a city provides, but maybe it’s not even remotely an option for them to live here, given the challenges I encountered.
Housing, health care and technology issues are not problems unique to Door County. We are, however, uniquely positioned to solve those problems. Our population of devoted, smart, passionate people is our greatest asset. Couple that with our small numbers, and we’re able to get our eyeballs on the big picture.
As part of the local media, we’re also uniquely positioned to help. We can raise awareness of the issues and help to locate and communicate solutions if we’re to make paradise a little easier for young people to move to. I look forward to tackling that challenge and others in the months and years to come.