Monday, February 21, 2011

Citizenship vs. Tourism, and intelligence gathering

A person's familiarity with a locale depends on the relationship of that person to the area. 

Listed in rank, from clueless to conversant: 

 - Passer-through (person who stops and maybe buys fuel)
 - Tourist (spends a week or a few months)
 - Citizen (born and lives in the area)
 - Citizen who has traveled widely (understands the hometown better than the homebody)

Don't take advice about a town or region from a passerby ("I was in Glenview once, and I can tell you, they need more shoe stores... and I heard some strip mall space is available.") 

On the other hand, the local person can't see the forest for the trees, so the person who has left and returned is the best source of advice. T.S. Eliot taught us:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

That's what you really want, is the person who really knows the place.

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