Unless someone has lived in every single city in this state for a decent length of time, it would be impossible for any individual to make a usable list of the 10 worst Kansas cities to live in. Since no one would be masochistic enough to attempt something like that, there is no reason for such a list to exist.

That is why the list of “10 Worst Cities in Kansas to Live In” that appeared on some random website this week run by a couple of knuckleheaded bloggers from North Carolina is not worth getting upset about. Chanute was selected as the fifth worst city in Kansas and other southeast Kansas cities were prominently featured as well. This caused much ire among some local residents who have apparently run out of relevant things to be upset about.

This list says these are the 10 Worst Cities:

1. Coffeyville   2. Kansas City   3. Parsons   4. Pittsburg   5. Chanute   6. Emporia   7. Fort Scott 8. Osawatomie   9.  Independence   10. Wichita

With the exception of Wichita, all of the listed cities are in the eastern part of the state. Western Kansas certainly contains some cities that I would consider terrible to live in. The busy-bodied blogger who compiled this list apparently didn’t calculate that remote cities that often smell like nearby slaughterhouses met the criteria for bad places to live.

I’ve spent varying amounts of time in all of the listed cities and none of them seem all that awful to me. They all have various issues, but they also have unique charms and special features that get edited out of lists that are designed specifically to provoke negative reactions.

Deciding which cities would be pleasant to live in is likewise a totally subjective exercise. Some people would vastly prefer the diversity and wide array of amenities in Kansas City or Wichita, while others prefer the friendliness and quiet comfort that comes with Kansas small town living. Personal preferences, family, and professional considerations determine which town someone will love or hate far more than any list put on the Internet by an out-of-state blogger who has likely never even been to Kansas.

In the article that accompanies this unfair list, the blogger claims that it was compiled using statistics for population density, median income, housing vacancy rates, education levels, crime, and unemployment rates. Judging the entire quality of life of a community by a bunch of numbers might qualify someone for a seat on the Chanute City Commission, but it doesn’t seem like a way to make an accurate list of places that suck.

Still, if someone insists on judging Kansas communities strictly on statistical measurements, I would suggest that bloggers look at numbers that would be more beneficial to Chanute. Maybe they should measure which City Commission in the state holds the greatest number of budget work sessions, which local newspaper has the most employees who have appeared in Reese Witherspoon movies, the average length of County Commission meetings, or which city’s downtown bank has the greatest number of taxidermied animals. This kind of math would surely help our community get off the Worst Cities to Live In list.

It was officially the high local unemployment rate that qualified Chanute as being the fifth worst city in Kansas, according to the blogger. Everyone who lives here should already be aware that the lack of economic opportunity in this area is an issue without needing to have some boring blogger remind us of the fact. It’s not like this list is pointing out anything about our city that is not apparent to us already.

So, I don’t understand what all my Chanute friends on social media are so upset about, particularly when they have never even heard of this website before our town got mentioned on it. Of course, the entire point of a list like this is to generate a reaction from people who live in the listed towns that will ultimately lead to more people looking at the website. I know as well as anyone that insulting a whole city is an easy way to get cheap attention.

I just wish this list were presented in some way that attempted to be funny or entertaining. In its present form, I don’t see how it is going to make anyone’s lives any better or worse. No one will be dissuaded from moving to or visiting any of these towns just because some blogger found some unflattering statistics to cite.

Perhaps, instead of devoting so much energy and anger towards this attention-seeking blogger and his pointless list of cities, we could focus on efforts to make our own city a little better to live in.

Please send all questions, comments, hate mail, marriage proposals, or links to other obscure blogs that criticize our town from afar to brian@chanute.com

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