Dr. Val Farmer
Rural Mental Health & Family Relationships

Not two communities, one community

April 4, 1990

A new friendship. I was delighted to learn that Darrell Reinke is the new publisher of The Fall River Review. I have recognized in him an interest in local writing, a love of the Upper Snake River Valley (beginning at an imaginary line drawn somewhere between Ashton and St. Anthony), and a spiritual sensitivity to life.

I read once that we should treasure and hold on to the friends we make before we turn 30. The implication is that it is easier to share and be open with our lives at a point when we are forming our own identity. Once we have settled into the tasks of earning a living, pursuing a career, raising a family and other involvements of adult life, we become too busy to form new friendships. Nor do we search. Our needs aren’t as great.

Darrell penetrated my tough, closed exterior with his openness and I responded. What I read was wrong. It is possible to form friendships after 30. Darrell is a kindred spirit, a bit crazy like me. Now you have two of us to contend with.

Religious differences. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am counselor in a stake presidency. My writing reflects who I am and what I believe. It reflects truth as I see it and where I learn it. I write boldly and confront issues of concern. I write about real lives and real problems. I hope my message promotes an atmosphere of honest dialogue and mutual support. We need that.

To my non-Mormon friends of Ashton, let me say again, I try to write about truth as I see it and where I learn it. I have lived for 15 years in South Dakota, a pluralistic, agricultural state with strong German and Scandinavian roots. I live among good people.

I write about rural lives and lifestyles. I write about rural dilemmas as they affects the people I meet and counsel, especially the members of rural communities who I have grown to love and cherish. Life is sacred and beautiful for those who have chosen a rural lifestyle. But it can be hard and intense, different from life in the city. You can see a recognition of those differences in my writing.

I write for the general public. Ashton and Preston are the first Idaho communities to take my column, now carried by 53 newspapers. I have no newspapers as yet in Utah. I am sensitive to life as it exists outside of the LDS Church. I have to be. It is where I live. It is the people I write for. It is the way I think. Relax. You wont be proselyted here.

I know that many of you have a vision for Ashton...a community that works together, loves together, plays together, celebrates together and solves tough problems together...a place where community life nourishes individuals...a place that builds for the future.

To do that, the community needs attention and love. Not two communities, one community. Let Darrell and my friendship symbolize a new era for Ashton. We attempt to learn from each other. We respect each other. Our goals and hopes for Ashton and for rural communities unite us. We need each other’s support and encouragement. Our differences don’t distract us.

Now I’ll attempt to earn your trust and your readership. Thanks to the Fall River Review for valuing my writing and allowing me to be a part of your community. In another year, our 3rd daughter will be attending Ricks College. I’ll have plenty of opportunities to visit Ashton and hear firsthand how you are doing.