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Look at Gresham with fresh eyes

Recent research conducted for the city of Gresham reveals a peculiar pattern that can be interpreted one of two ways.

Results of the survey, released earlier this month, indicate that people who have been in this community longer tend to give it lower ratings for livability than those who arrived more recently.

So is it a case of the longer you live here, the less you like it? Or, is this phenomenon more appropriately viewed as the longer you live here, the less you appreciate it?

We would lean toward the latter analysis, although the survey results also are likely influenced by the truism, 'Familiarity breeds content.'

Before taking this analysis too far, we should hasten to add that most Gresham residents surveyed said they are relatively satisfied with this community as a place to live. The overall livability rating came in as a seven on a scale of one to 10. Even those crankier long-time residents of the community - people who have lived here 10 years or more - gave Gresham a 6.8. And remember, these are the folks who've been buffeted by the East Wind one too many winters.

But it is telling to see that the most recent arrivals were the most positive. Even more revealing is that Hispanic residents were the survey respondents most satisfied with Gresham's quality of life. They rated Gresham as an 8.2.

The higher rankings given by newcomers in general reflect the fact that - since they moved here from some other place - these recent arrivals have a better basis on which to make a comparison. The natural beauty of this city, its quiet neighborhoods, its quaint downtown, emerging arts community and newer shopping districts do, in fact, stack up quite well against cities of similar size just about anywhere.

Is there opportunity for improvement? Most definitely, and we discuss those often in this space. But perhaps what longer-term residents need to do is stop occasionally and reflect upon this area with new eyes - in the same way they would if they had just arrived in town.

Most Popular Reasons

Here are the most popular reasons respondents to a recent city survey gave when asked what they liked about living in Gresham:

Convenient location - 16 percent

Small town - 14 percent

Access to shopping, restaurants - 8 percent

Away from Portland - 8 percent

Close to recreation - 6 percent

Quiet, peaceful - 6 percent