It’s not you, it’s them

Come September, I will be leaving Nevada. I’m packing up my home and family to begin a new job in Davis, Calif. While I’m excited about what awaits us there, it’s with mixed emotions that I take a last look around Reno. I never expected to live here, never even cared to visit. But I fell in love and followed my now-husband here. We were supposed to stay for six months. We stayed for six years. Reno took hold of us in a good, unexpected way. It’s where we bought our first home, and where our daughter was born. The Truckee River, with its hanging flower baskets, kayakers and every microcosm of life, is where I first came to think this town could be our home. Independent, unpretentious, yet embracing of art and community—Reno, you’re so much better than outsiders give you credit for.

All of those things remain true about Reno. When I first moved here, though, I wasn’t worried about getting a good education or maintaining my health—I’d already established those things elsewhere. But when my daughter was born, I began to look at everything through the eyes of a mother. All of those “worst” national lists Nevada ends up on—we laugh about them so we don’t cry: 50th for K-12 education quality, 48th in education spending, 1st in economic-stress level, 50th in health care for children, and 50th in per-person spending for public health.

We also rank 1st in LEED-certified green buildings, are becoming a hub for renewable energy, and there are some wonderful people who live and work here, but it doesn’t quite balance out.

Of course, Nevada ranked low even before the economy tanked. Now, things seem even worse. The state, with the worst unemployment rate in the nation, is predicted to be one of the last to feel an economic turnaround.

So when deciding to move, I thought about Nevada’s limited economic and career opportunities for the foreseeable future; its governmental leadership that refuses to invest in health, schools and kids; and the state’s consistently poor national rankings. Looking at my 1-year-old daughter, a thought kept running through my head: Why, as she begins her life, would I give her the worst?

Reno, I love you. I just can’t live with you anymore.