Star Foster, Managing Editor for the Pagan Channel at Patheos.com*, had been considering making a change in her life for several months. When she needed to move out of a less than desirable living arrangement on short notice, she chose Minnesota. ”I have come to know so many midwest Pagans, either online or at festivals, that this area seemed like a good place to go to find community and not be entirely alone. Plus, some of my friends here made a pretty good case for the reasonable cost of living, public transportation and low unemployment in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Paganistan just had too many things that made it attractive for me to not be tempted, despite the snow,” said Ms. Foster.
Foster was living in a rural part of Georgia and was sharing a home with three other persons. The situation was tense and came to head last week, resulting in Ms. Foster reaching out to her friends and religious community. She had $3 in her pocket and no idea where she would live. Local friends gave her a place to stay and helped her pack and store some of her belongings, although most she would have to give away. ”People opened their homes to me, sent me money for moving expenses, fed me, gave me rides to the places I needed to go, sent me words of encouragement, gave me their phone numbers if I needed someone to talk to, and invited me to their events. I had offers of places to stay from all over the country, and even a job offer or two.”
She says the offers didn’t just come from friends, but Pagans she didn’t know. ”The amount of support people have given me is overwhelming.” Foster says it is very easy to feel alone and unappreciated in a minority community, but this experience has reinforced her belief that Pagans are charitable and willing to help. ” …having been on the receiving end of the magnificent generosity and kindness of the Pagan community, I can’t look at our communities as anything but giving and generous, particularly when we believe in someone or some project.”
Ms. Foster says she is already noticing the differences between her home state of Georgia and her adopted state of Minnesota. ”I’m from the mountains of Appalachia, and so much sky is strange to me, as are the lakes that seem to be everywhere. Also, the food is a bit different, and the portions are huge,” says Foster. She also notes a visible difference in the political landscape, “…it’s a bit strange to be in a blue state after living in a red state my entire life. Seeing a bunch of lawn signs supporting same-sex marriage made me do a double-take!”
The weather this winter will provide a stark contrast to Georgia, as well. Yet winter is one of the experiences she is looking forward to, “Snow is a rare occurrence in Georgia, so finding myself safely ensconced in spring will be a good thing. I’m also looking forward to some of the festivals, and events like Paganicon. I’m also excited to see some of the winter activities, like ice fishing, which seem strange and exotic to me.”
Foster is staying just across the border in Wisconsin. While continuing her contract for work for Patheos, she’s concentrating on learning more about the Twin Cities, getting used to mass transit, and looking for additional employment. While she’s excited at the thought of settling into a thriving urban Pagan community, she knows there will be times she misses the mountains of Georgia and the places that hold memories for her, “My grandparents are buried there, as is my father, and I didn’t get to visit those graves before I left. Every bit of landscape there has personal stories for me, and Minnesota is a blank slate. At some point I’m going to miss having that shared history and roots.”
* Patheos.com describes itself as the premier online destination to engage in the global dialogue about religion and spirituality and to explore and experience the world’s beliefs. The Pagan Portal has columnists and bloggers such as The Wild Hunt, Gus diZerega, Steven T. Abell, Kris Bradley, Crystal Blanton and many more.