The Nicest Place in Idaho: Meridian

NICEST PLACES IN AMERICA 2020 FINALIST
"Old-Fashioned Neighborliness"

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Neighbors caring for neighbors is the key to this city’s growth.

At nearly 80,000 people and growing, Meridian is now the second largest city in Idaho after its nearby neighbor Boise. But according to locals, an old-fashioned kindness still runs through the place.

Longtime resident Ga Neille Posey Hostvedt has been so grateful for the offers to shop for her, the food dropped at her doorstep, the check-ins to make sure she’s doing all right through the pandemic, that she was moved to nominate her home as the Nicest Place in America. She describes not only the young caring for the old, as you’d expect, but the old caring for the older.

“I’m 77, but I’m a lot more lively than most that are nearing eighty. I feel like I should do what I can to help those that are too scared to go to the store,” she told Reader’s Digest.

Meridian, Idaho welcome signCourtesy Idaho Tourism
As one of the fastest-growing cities in America, Meridian is welcoming a lot of new people.

Hostvedt says her community has always been kind, but she’s seen an increase of people looking out for one another since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

“I help out how I can,” says her neighbor, Doug Anderson, 81. “I have two widows on either side of me, and they’re younger than I am. I help them when they have car trouble or want me to take a look at something on their car before they take it to the mechanic. It helps them to have someone to rely on that they trust before they go in, to make sure they’re treated fairly.”

Anderson was longtime friends with Hostvedt’s husband, Lonney, before he passed. He made a portable ramp for Lonney, who had multiple sclerosis and was bound to his wheelchair, so that he could visit neighbors’ houses. It’s the kind of selfless stuff that people in Meridian do all the time.

“I had a neighbor bring me this glorious grass-fed beef from his freezer, for no reason,” Hostvedt says. “We’re a family community. This area is filled with small, preserved communities that bring to mind the Gold Rush days.”

She takes daily walks, and says lately she’s noticed a trend that she’s choosing to focus on: “These families are outside having fun together because they’re home. That is a positive from all of this. They’ve been putting these huge sparkly windmills in their front yards, with big flower decorations, and it’s so fun to see. That’s what we need to do—to find ways to add joy to the world when there isn’t any right now.”

pinwheels along a front walkway; chalk design; eagle in a treeCourtesy Ga Neille Posey Hostvedt (3)
Throughout the neighborhood there is evidence of optimism.

It might seem like a small thing, but living in a place where the old care for the older—and the young for the old—while families are cooped up in fear of a pandemic that leads to the desire to bring beauty into the world, makes a big difference in where folks want to call home. Perhaps that’s why Meridian is the fourth fastest-growing city in America.

“People want to live where they are welcome, and neighbors are friendly and caring. This reputation we have is why there’s a continuous influx of people moving here. We have the ‘old country’ feeling of neighbors helping neighbors, being there for each other and lending helping hands, often without being asked,” Hostvedt says.

The Nomination

While on neighborhood walks, I see families riding bikes together, kids having fun in our uncrowded neighborhood parks, laughing and playing joyfully. Family members are together while cooking, reading, puzzling, playing board games, doing yard work and spring cleaning. Reminds me of our less distracted world of decades ago. This challenging epidemic is a resounding reminder of what truly matters: Good health, loving family and friends and treating everyone well. I is spring, so we can escape to the pleasure of our great outdoors. Oh how we love the advent of spring with its promise of new beginnings! All life and beauty in barren trees and brown, leafless plants seems to be lost for months, then transform to life as now, in breathtaking beauty! Taking daily neighborhood jaunts lifts spirits and reminds us of how gorgeous is this world. Today many “pictures” are in the sky, so I capture a cloud with a BIG heart that brings to mind many families, neighbors and friends, our community citizens that call to ask if they can shop or run errands for us, offering thoughtful gifts of love and caring. A neighbor surprises me, as he brings food to my door. We all are profoundly grateful for medical workers, first responders, all those who bravely serve, knowing the risks. Thank you to each of you for sharing and caring deeply about the well-being of others. You make a huge difference in quality of life!

Neighbors care about each other here. While walking our Meridian neighborhood today, I saw a woman deliver groceries to an elderly resident, with a big smile, then asks how she and her husband are coming along and is there anything else that can be done to help out. I’ve had calls asking me if there is anything they can do to help me, offering to pick up groceries or run errands; and a neighbor brought food to my door without my asking. I’m 77 years old and neighbors recognize that many of our elderly residents can use some help. We’re ever thankful for the watchful caring. Over the decades I witness that during challenging times, the best in humanity is prevalent.

Meridian, Idaho residents have always been welcoming and caring and I know after living here almost three decades. This is one of many major reasons why our city is at the top of the list of one of the fastest growing cities in America. People want to live where they are welcome, neighbors are friendly and caring. This reputation we own is why there’s this continuous influx of people moving here and rapid growth we experience. We have the “old country” feeling of neighbors helping neighbors, being there for each other and lending helping hands, often without being asked. What better way to live than this?

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