I would like you to picture Boise, Idaho.
You're probably imagining farmland, fields of potatoes and a lone maverick who's dearest desire is to secede from the Union and start his own currency. False. Think of Boise as Portland's summer home. Portland is Boise's sleek, fast moving, urban older sister who has the fortune of never being mistaken for Indiana or Iowa. Boise is the artsy but overlooked younger brother who's earthy charms captivate anyone he encounters.
Four-score and six-months ago, this potato left the gem state in order to go to college in the strange and wonderful world of the Northeast. Now, I am very glad that I live across the country and I have noticed that I have cultivated a lot of pride for da 'Ho. As of April 1, 2016, I am the only person at my school who is from Idaho, and this article is for all the people who think that Idaho is in the South as well as people from Boise who know and love it.
So here is a love letter, or love list to one of the best cities in the world.
1. People are kind and the friendly neighborhood game is strong.
The Northwest is known for having a relaxed and laid back vibe, but Boise is the king of the friendly neighbor game. After three weeks of living in any given neighborhood you will probably have had a conversation with 90-percent of people within a half-mile radius. Boise itself has some of the most open, kind and curious people. It’s not uncommon to have a really interesting and deep conversation with a perfect stranger at a coffee shop, or if your car ever decides to run out of gas in the middle of the street you can count on people getting out of their cars to help you instead of driving past on their way to work.
2. The size.
The population of Boise Idaho is 214,237 people total, but it’s impossible to go anywhere without seeing a familiar Boisean biking over to the Neighborhood Association Meeting, going to yoga, or moseying down to the Co-op. If you’re trying to avoid someone do not go to a coffee shop because there is a 96-percent chance that you run into them. And speaking of coffee…
I spent most of my high school career writing in coffee shops, which aren’t especially difficult to come by as there are literally 10 within a two-mile radius of my house. Whether you go to Flying M, The District, Big City, Alia's, Goldy’s, Java, or Dawson's, there is never a shortage of chai tea. Flying M is my personal favorite, and according to this list it is considered the best in da ‘Ho.
4. Treefort Music Festival
Treefort is an annual music festival that happens in late March and takes places over the course of four days. Treefort is really an extension of the developing Boise music and art scene. This event truly a celebration of Boisean culture amplified into four glorious days showcasing local, regional, and national artists. In addition to music there is also AleFort, YogaFort, StoryFort and my personal favorite: CuddleFort.
Within the past 20 years, Boise's theater scene has developed significantly. It is unlike many major cities, whose theatrical choices are driven more by commercial means. Theater in Boise is fueled by the passion, love, and involvement of the community. Last year, I saw a site specific play at the Boise Contemporary called "Super Secret Site Specific Something" which resonated with me in a lot of ways, but to put it simply, it's about falling in love with someone in a city and the relationship between those two notions and ultimately, it was a love letter to Boise itself.
One of the best things about Idaho, and the northeast in general, is the mountains. There is something weirdly cozy about living in a city surrounded by foothills and mountains and without them it can be a little jarring.
7. Green Belts
Instead of dangerously darting between cars you can travel via the greenbelt throughout all of Boise. The greenbelt spans more than 25-miles from downtown Boise river all the way to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival in the east.
When the first snow falls in October you can expect to see someone hiking up the snow covered foothills to ski, or else going to Bogus Bogus, Tamarack, or Sun Valley which are all very close. It is very unlikely to meet someone in Boise who does not ski-- in fact it's probably considered a crime.
9. The North End
Easily the most laid back, tie-dyed and liberal place in all of conservative Idaho and definitely my favorite neighborhood in Boise.
10. The Potato Drop
Why would you get drunk in New York to watch drop a giant ball in Times Square when you could be in Boise anxiously anticipating the drop of a giant potato surrounded by fellow exited and intoxicated Idahoans?
11. Basque Culture
Apart from Basque country, Boise, Idaho is home to the largest Basque population in the United States. If someone is Basque, they typically drop it into conversation within the first ten minutes of meeting you. Why? Because cultural pride is awesome. Also, there is an entire block downtown devoted to it and our mayor, Dave Bieter, also happens to be the only Basque-speaking mayor in the United States.
12. Yarn Bombs
13. Bike Culture
My dad refuses to drive his car during the summer; a sentiment echoed by many other Boiseans who bike to work every single day. The Twilight Criterium is held in downtown Boise every August. Fun fact, when I was 6 I threw a stick in the middle of the road right before people rode past. But don't worry, no one was hurt.
14. Boise Contemporary Theater
The Boise Contemporary Theater is dedicated to producing contemporary theater with a focus on new work. On a more personal note, the Boise Contemporary Theater is the one of the reasons why I chose to pursue a career in theater. In high school, I was a part of Theater Lab, aka 10 wonderful weeks spent devising theater with amazing people, while learning how to be a good curious human and artist.
15. Boise is the city of trees
When settlers moseyed on over to da 'Ho they didn't cry, "La Bois! La Bois!" for no reason.
16. Story Story Night
Story Story Night takes place on the last Monday of every month. Three people are selected to tell a story relating to the theme of the month. People of all ages, experiences and backgrounds come up onstage to share their personal experiences. I have gone to this event several times and it can be deeply moving, hilarious, and unnerving, but always wonderful.
Boise may be small, but downtown is a hoppin' as the kids say. The poetry scene is amazing and and even though most places close at 9 p.m., there are a lot of things to do downtown.
18. Socks and sandals
We north-westerners pride ourselves on our practicality and laid-back vibes which often involve socks and sandals because you never know whether you're going to be going rafting, biking, or hiking in the foothills.
19. The Farmer's Market
Beet farmers, bakers and beatniks unite in six-hours full of food every Saturday in the heart of downtown Boise.
This picture is how you should respond when someone tells you that they are from Idaho. While I don't miss the August fires, or January inversions, I do have a lot of respect and love for Boise, Idaho because it's a great place to grow up. This list is only a few of the reasons why Boise is awesome. But I highly recommend that you mosey out West to Idaho to discover the city for yourself.