It is the best of states. It is the worst of states.
Both in the span of a month.
Is Business Insider confused?
The "best small towns" list included Danville, Bardstown, and Murray.
The "most miserable cities" list included my hometown of Ashland, Ky., (part of Business Insider's Huntington, W.Va.-Ashland, Ky., metro area) and the Evansville, Ind.-Henderson, Ky., metro area.
Ashland crossed the finish line at No. 2 on the misery index, beaten only by Charleston, W.Va., which doesn't even have clean drinking water at the moment.
At first, I thought it was a matter of the media's trademark Appalachia-phobia, but Henderson is firmly planted in Western Kentucky, far away from those snake-handling hillbillies.
(For those who don't know me, that's a joke. I'm from Eastern Kentucky, and our church handled snakes only once a year.)
(Oops, that's another joke.)
Is Kentucky big enough to have three of the nation's best small towns and two of the nation's most miserable towns?
For some perspective on the matter, I solicited an opinion from Julie Wilson, editor of Story, a Lexington, Ky.-based magazine about people and places in Kentucky.
You think you know New York City. Lots of culture married with lots of crime. Stunning skyscrapers towering only miles away from shady housing projects. Yet this dichotomy is rarely questioned, just accepted as the way of big city life.
Take this same magnifying glass to Kentucky and you’ll find several similarities (yes, really). Kentucky has Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green and several other outlets for top cultural and educational experiences. Then to the far eastern end of the state is Ashland, all the way down to Pikeville, that is sensationalized, more often than not, for its poverty and unemployment. Yet few ever attribute this to most every state’s yin and yang. That’s not to say Eastern Kentucky isn’t terribly in need of an influx of support, but there’s more to it than the easily targeted negativity. There is beauty and culture there, as well as in every city in this state. And that’s the mission behind STORY, uncovering these under-the-radar stories so people can truly know what our state is about.
Well said, Julie.