This question is directed at anyone who lives somewhere. So as not to discriminate, those who do not live somewhere, but perhaps live somewhen instead, are also invited to participate, but only if they can explain how that works.
It's pretty open-ended really, but a few things to consider:
Even if you frequently move, or do not live most of any given year at a fixed address, I'm still looking for the same basic things: what keeps you in a state of moving around so much?
N.B. Don't feel obligated to answer those subquestions I asked. Photos, words, videos... whatever; answer however you damn well please. I'm mostly just curious about where other TA members are coming from, figuratively and literaly.
I live in Northeast Georgia... Atheism is probably on-par with demonic possession around here. My home town still doesn't sell alcoholic beverages, for the love of god. Their argument is "Next comes the strip clubs" if you allow alcohol to be sold. You should've seen the ethical meltdown the GA Lottery caused when it was new!
I'm sure to everyone's surprise (wink), I've been researching the most open-minded places to live for a while. My favorite so far, at least by looks, is Portland, OR. But, I have in-laws in New Mexico, and they don't seem too bad either. Plus, I love the Southwestern diet!! I stay here because of family. I hate the thought of it, but I probably wouldn't feel comfortable leaving unless I didn't have anyone to stay for...
I live in Long Beach, California and I've been here for a little over 10 years. I enjoy the diversity and the relative compactness of this city, where although it's part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area, I don't feel like I'm in a huge megalopolis. Since I only live 2 miles from work (in the downtown area pictured below), there's no reason to regularly leave the city.
The community is fairly open to atheism, and really, it's open to pretty much anything. Long Beach has pockets of both diversity and homogeneity, with racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual-orientation differences. In my particular neighborhood, people follow numerous religions, or not at all, but there are others around here that are predominantly Catholic (Latino areas), more generically strongly Christian, and to a lesser extent, Buddhist (Cambodian areas). I'm sure I could find many atheist-unfriendly areas in Long Beach, but why? :) At any rate, I'm not very open about my atheism, which just follows along how I wasn't very open about my theism years ago.
The diversity of this area is a strong reason why I remain, and my wife loves it here too. The relative acceptance of atheism is just a small part of the dynamic of that diversity.
One trivial fact about Long Beach is that it is the largest city in the United States which is not the county seat of the county (Los Angeles) where it's located. Coincidentally, I grew up in an American city which will soon be the new correct answer to that trivia question - Mesa, Arizona - as it will soon be larger than Long Beach. Mesa is about as polar opposite to Long Beach as you can get from an atheist viewpoint.
Mesa was founded in the late 1800s by Mormons, and they built the iconic Mormon Temple which still best symbolizes that city. When I was growing up there about a century later, that religion still dominated the culture and politics of that city. I grew up Catholic and that religion had many adherents in that city, so I didn't feel that my family and fellow Catholics were isolated. On the other hand, we knew that the holders of power in the city were Mormon, and we were not terribly welcome, although tolerated. We knew no atheists, and I'd have to believe they were really isolated in that city in the 1970s.
From what I gather, Mesa is a bit more diverse religiously now, in that Mormons have less of a hold on power with the increasing immigration of (other?) Christians into the city. I can't say how well atheists are tolerated in Mesa these days. I go back home to visit a few times a year, as my parents still live there, and much of my extended family live in the Mesa and Phoenix area. Let's just say I'm confident that I'm amongst much more tolerant folks in Long Beach.
My search for a more diverse and tolerant community in which to live stems in part from my experience as a religious and ethnic (Mexican-American) minority in Mesa. One of many stories stand out from a religious view point goes back to my parenthetic comment suggesting that maybe Mormons aren't Christian. One of my priests growing up, Fr. Mitchell, published a pamphlet entitled "A Christian Looks at Mormonism," which presented 42 questions that he answers about the Mormon faith. He essentially concludes that Mormonism  isn't Christian, and  it's sort of ridiculous. The pamphlet certainly caught the attention of the Mormon leaders in the city, with a few of them writing letters or articles in the local paper scolding Fr. Mitchell about how he should be more .. um, tolerant .. of religious differences. (Of course, you can imagine what the Mormons were saying about Catholics like Fr. Mitchell privately.) So, as a good Catholic--my signed copy of the pamphlet praised me as one :) --I read the pamphlet cover-to-cover and I thought Fr. Mitchell raised a lot of good points about Mormons. I could also understand the need for tolerance, but really, why should tolerance get in the way of searching for and discussing truth?
Who would have known that as time went on, I'd be asking the same questions about Catholicism and other religions and ... well, here I am. :)
The first owner of my house which was built in 1961 was a Mormon. One summer day - this was about 12 years ago - he knocked on my front door. He was with his son (who was about my age - 40ish at the time), his grandson, grandson's wife and great-grandson!! I guess they wanted to take a trip down memory lane. I let them in. They were very nice although it was obvious from the mess and chaos - my kids were like 9 and 7 plus I my foot was in a cast from a broken toe - that I was not a good Mormon housewife. I actually felt guilty that "his" house was so messy! Anyway, the reason I am telling this story is that he was asking about the neighbors to the left. I told him that both had passed away recently. And, he said "Well, they were Catholics but they were okay."
Isn't Mesa where that guy Russell Pearce who sponsored the Arizona anti-immigrant legislation from? He is a Mormon, I believe.
I am going to Arizona in May - to Sedona and the Grand Canyon to hike. I really want to see both these places and unfortunately the only way I can do that is to go to Arizona. Have to think of some subtle subversive things I can do while there!
I was actually supposed to go to Havasu Falls in early October. Hike the 10 miles in, camp a few days, hike the 10 miles out. But I was sidelined by an injury.
The upcoming trip is hiking the South Rim and around Sedona. After that I head to Colorado & Utah to Mesa Verde, Arches, Canyonlands. Decided to forego the camping though this time - never loved it all that much and now I feel I am getting too old! I am trying to make my way through all the major sites in the SW - last April I went to Zion & Bryce in Utah. Both amazingly beautiful.
I don't know when (or if) I will do the Havasu Falls trip. I really want to but the camping part doesn't really appeal. The Havasupai, I know, do have a lodge so maybe I can stay there.
Your reference to Barbara Kingsolver reminded me of The Poisonwood Bible which reminded me of a place I almost lived - Abuja, Nigeria. Back in 1960 we were living in Rochester, NY, my father was a research scientist at Kodak. I guess he received a "calling" and decided he would be a Catholic lay missionary and would move us to Nigeria. At the time there were 3 kids - all born within 36 months of each other. I was the oldest and was 3 so I have very vague memories of that time. Well, my mother wanted none of it and managed to convince him that moving to Nigeria was not a good idea (her Catholicism was always much more of a social thing, my dad was a True Believer). Instead we packed up and moved to Covington, KY where my father taught in the chemistry department of a small Catholic college.
Anyway, when I read The Poisonwood Bible it blew me away! Even though it took place in Congo and the father was a Baptist missionary it was too similar to what could have been for comfort (Nigeria was also a tinderbox at that time)!!
Eventually my father left the Catholic Church. Although who knows - he is constantly looking into various religions and other woo woo things. A few years ago he was going to the Lubavitch Chabad. Now he works for Catholic Charities in upstate New York - so maybe he'll go back to the fold!
Oh, how lovely! I will be in Galway in September, my husband and I are doing a walking tour. My great grandmother (Cecilia, also) was from Galway. I'll have to find out more specifics before I go.
What a beautiful place to welcome the New Year
I've been to Montreal twice, in the summer of '07 with my husband. We stayed at the "W" which if I recall was near a train station and sort of in between the new and old. Really liked Montreal. I visited again in the April '08 - was chaperoning my sons' spring band trip. We stayed in, I think a Hyatt near many other hotels. Even though it was mid-April it was very cold and slushy/snowy. I remember seeing piles of snow everywhere (I think that was a big snow year for you all) - we took the kids to a show at La Tohu and on the way we passed a supermarket parking lot with a mini-mountain of snow!
But despite the weird weather I'd love to go back. My younger son was interested in McGill for a while and I thought that would be great excuse to visit Montreal more. But he stayed closer to home. But now my older son has a summer internship with the U.S. branch of a Canadian company which is based in Montreal. So, maybe he could end up moving there!
When I was in high school I lived in Leominster, Massachusetts. Many French Canadians had emigrated to Leominster so I get what you are saying about the different between French Canadian & Euro-French. I remember going to a "testimonial" (sort of like an engagement party with a cover charge) with some Euro-French exchange students and they would go on and on about the way the old grandmothers spoke - quite snooty I recall.