Different Shades of Gray: Chronicle Covers the Cape's Youth Flight Problem
By: Elise Hugus, January 19, 2012
So, did you see Chronicle last night?
That's not something I'd normally ask you, but last night's series on "Olde Cape Cod" is quite apropos to this website.
While "the graying of Cape Cod" isn't news to those of us who live here, you have to give kudos to Channel 5 for alerting Boston (and the rest of New England) that the demographics of their favorite vacationland are simply unsustainable.
The stats from the 2010 U.S. Census say it all: in the last decade, the population aged 25 to 44 declined by 26%, while people aged 55 to 64 surged by 40%. Anywhere you go (before 8 PM) will pretty much reflect that reality.
The stories in the series will be familiar to most of us who live here: dismal career opportunities, a lackluster social scene, and inflated costs accelerate the youth flight.
The result? A lack of students to fill the Provincetown schools, young families that can't make ends meet, and not enough workers to take care of the elderly majority.
Chronicle avoided the deeper issues that might shed a little more light on why the Cape is such a dead-end for young people. The fact that the cost of living simply doesn't add up compared to the wages and job market is at least half the story; our substance abuse and suicide rates are the not surprising result of the social and class-based isolation created by a seasonal economy.
But that's my glass-is-half-empty take on it. Chronicle put a positive spin on the situation, interviewing a young family from Harwich that discovered a happenin' social scene when they had kids, and highlighting the network created by the Cape Cod Young Professionals.
CCYP member Amanda Converse, owner of the Hyannis chic boutique Shift, is a great spokeswoman for what Chronicle called “a reverse trend” of native Cape Codders returning to—and thriving—on the Cape.
Rather than feeling like a "failure" for returning to her home peninsula, 33 year-old Converse found the support that she needed to establish the type of store you'd normally find in the Lower East Side.
As Dorothy said, there's no place like home... Converse is a shining example of what can happen if you take pride in where you live and get smart about using the resources that are available to locals.
As part of a website dedicated to providing a voice for the Cape Cod youth (and young at heart!), I think we can all stand tall and be proud of where we come from. If you click around the site, you'll discover a side to the Cape that's not always apparent in these quiet nights of winter.
We can't reverse the trend single-handedly, but the more we stick together, we can at least have fun being a departure from the norm.