Cultivating Utah Pride

Natalie Sullivan | Editor-at-large | @nhillsullivan

Since I moved to Utah two years ago, I’ve discovered a general distain of “Utah culture” by its very own citizens. This reaction has puzzled me to the very core. It seems very odd that Utahns feel this way, especially in comparison with other states.

Alabamans are proud of their Southern mentality and Illinoisans are proud of their Midwestern accent. But I often ask myself, and others, ‘what’s wrong with Utah’?

There seems to be a stigma that Utahns are close-minded. If anything, I would argue that the people in Utah are abnormally self-aware of how their culture compares to the rest of the world. If anything, it’s the hicks in the Deep South who are either close-minded about their ‘southern hospitality’ to notice their ignorance or just plain proud of it!

Taking cue from the southern pride of those country boys, and southern belles, I feel that there are many good things that the state of Utah has to offer which Utahns should be proud of. For one thing, People come from all over the world to rock climb, hike, ski and snowboard through our mountains.

Within Utah County, you can drive just 15 or 20 minutes to a waterfall or lake and feel like you are in the far removed from the noise, yet thanks to Park City, outdoorsiness in Utah maintains a certain sense of sophistication, particularly around Sundance film festival time.

As I’ve come to find out through working with student films, rising costs of filming in Los Angeles have made Utah’s an attractive site for filmmaking year-round.

Additionally, Utah also enjoys high volumes of talent for example, performances at the Hale Center theatre and Ballet West compared to the level of those in New York or other metropolitan cities.

Given the amount of resources in talent, Utah remains and exciting place to live and work. The state economy enjoys consistently low rates of unemployment.

There are so many reasons to be proud of being from Utah without getting into arguments about religion. Sure, Utah is known for having a high Mormon population, but isn’t Utah known for also housing a substantial stockpile of dinosaur bones?

There are many facets of the Utah community. The more Utahans see themselves as such, the more the rest of the world will widen their view.

Unfortunately, the most common thing that I hear is that Utah is ‘boring’. When people tell me this, I feel like they haven’t grown up from the pre-teen stage of typing ‘I’m bored’ into a chat box on instant messenger.

In fact, if Utah were a personified, I’d Imagine a sort of gangly teenager loaded with potential. Given time, I feel that Utah, will develop muscle and a sense of self-confidence.

With time, I feel that Utah can increase the prestige of their universities and tourist industry. However, this can only occur when individuals capitalize on their ambitions. Already local musicians such as Brandon Flowers, David Archuleta and the Neon Trees have had a massive impact on state image.

Still, there seems to be a thirst for diversity. I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that Utah residents collectively speak 90 percent of the world’s written languages but also maintain a 92% white majority, fourteen percent higher than the US national average.

Rather than taking a negative look at Utah’s demographic, I thing that the previous statistic reflects a culture that is fascinated by diversity. Utahans definitely enjoy learning about other places, but at the same time, I don’t think that Utahans should feel that they are uninteresting by default.

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