Last Saturday morning, I was honored to speak to the Baldwin Writers Group at the public library in Daphne, Alabama. We had a good morning, talking about writing and publishing, sharing ideas about how to get this work done, and discussing how to reach readers, Their group has been going for over twenty years, and I was quite pleased to be asked to drive down and spend some time with them.
Last week, the headline beckoned me to read: “The most miserable city in Alabama.” But it was worse than that. The article wasn’t just about the “most miserable city in Alabama”— the report explained that my hometown, Montgomery, is among the “most miserable” cities in the nation! I had no idea . . .
According to the well-known polling institution Gallup, Naples, Florida came out on top among municipalities, but Montgomery was #180 out of 189 cities in the study. Gallup’s webpage for the results explains a little further about the South as a whole:
Nationally, the U.S. map of the highest and lowest well-being communities generally approximates what is found among the states, with the lowest well-being found in the South and then winding north through the industrial Midwest. The highest well-being communities are scattered across the eastern seaboard as well as in the West.
Among the states, Alabama fared worse than Montgomery did among the cities. Montgomery barely cracked the bottom ten, but in the state listing, Alabama was solidly in that bottom percentile with fellow Deep Southern states Mississippi and Louisiana. It looks like Alabama came in 44th out of the 50 states. (There were no Deep Southern states in the top ten.)
I’ve long known that we have problems down here, but— miserable? Are we miserable, really? Sure, our politics are glutted and our economy is weak, but we’ve got our Holy Trinity of Saving Graces: college football, warm weather, and delicious food. So, beat that so-called #1 Hawaii! You may have warm weather and good food out there, but I’ve seen your state’s college football team . . . Uh, yeah.