Author: Bailey Reutzel

Texas

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, especially for a freckle-faced 10-year-old, but it does teach invaluable lessons about money and work and wanting. “It’s taught him so many positive skills,” my aunt JoAnn says as she hands me a business card with Cole’s fourth grade school picture smiling up at me. My young cousin sells chicken and duck eggs at the community center in Denton, Texas. “Most people buy their eggs from the store; it’s not that easy,” he says. “Having a business is about service, that’s why I offer free delivery to local homes.” He’s up before school, cleaning the coops and feeding the animals, of which they have plenty–three dogs, a cat, two horses, a miniature donkey, a llama, a handful of long-horned cattle, several pot belly pigs, two bunnies, coops of turkey, chickens and ducks. “Half of the money goes to mom, for chicken feed and taking care of the farm, and the other half goes to me,” he says. It’s taught him beneficial social skills, talking to strangers and pitching them on the benefits of buying locally. Plus he’s learned a lot about managing money. It’s probably a compounding of things, but in my mind, since Cole took over the egg business he’s become much more mature. In stores, he doesn’t ask for toys anymore. Instead, you can see his little brain working, thinking about how...

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New Mexico

Hungover and feeling estranged from my host, I drag my feet into High Desert Brewery in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The fact that only one older guy slouches at the bar while the rest of the patrons sit coupled off at the tables doesn’t give me much confidence, and the brewery’s tagline–“None of our beers suck”–didn’t help. I order a peach wheat and start reading the paper. I’m choking it down when another man walks up. He’s smiley, every once in a while turning his head in my direction but my eyes are down on the ink. Somehow a conversation gets started. “I write about economics and money and people.” “Really? Well I started that tent city, Camp Hope about five years ago.” “Excuse me? Tent city?” “Yeah, it’s a homeless encampment. You should come over there and see it tomorrow. I’ll be working.” It’s sometimes hard to believe how lucky I am. ——— The next afternoon I’m walking in and out of the organized rows of tents, being introduced to weathered men and watching a Latino woman with a young daughter about her legs pulling clothes from a huge pile. As James said the night before, Camp Hope was established in the fall of 2011 on land owned by the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope, a local non-profit. At that time, the Community of Hope only had temporary...

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Arizona

As I drive closer to the Mexican border, the color of Americans gets darker. The weather is warmer, the sun shines brighter and the Latino population is larger. But the latter might be changing.  Reading the The Arizona Republic one afternoon, it seems there’s a slow shift in Mexican immigration to the States. Between 2009 and 2014, an estimated 1 million Mexicans returned home while 870,000 came to the US, according to Pew Research Center, making this period the first time in four decades the number of Mexicans returning home outnumbered those that are coming to America. They’ve come up...

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Utah

A petite, Chinese woman with a badge that reads Sister Wong scurries over to me as soon as I walk into the visitor’s center. I had just been denied entry into the Mormon Temple, and was now looking for Space Jesus. Sister Wong had moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, less than a year ago for 18 months of mission work. She hadn’t expected to be sent to the US since her English was limited to “Hello,” “How are you?” and “I like apples and bananas and soup.” But she prayed and God decided her place was in SLC....

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Wyoming

“There’s a housing crisis here.” I hear this all over the U.S., from obvious places like New York City to lesser known struggles on Orcas Island in Washington state, but in this particular instance, it’s coming from a yoga instructor in Teton Village, Wyoming, 12 miles north of Jackson. We had just got done relaxing in yoga when I asked Michelle about economic hardship. Over the past several years, there’s been an influx of tourists, which has led retail shops and restaurants to jack up their prices and a shortage in affordable housing. These tourists see how beautiful the area is and buy second homes or vacation homes which they only inhabit several months to a couple weeks out of the year. Jackson, which is also referred to by its valley floor, Jackson Hole, is a pristine town full of rustic athletic clothing stores and adventure sport rental shops directly below the reds and browns of cliff faces, lime greens and oranges of steaming geysers, and wildlife roaming, wide, open spaces of Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. My dad would like to retire there and I, myself, have mulled over the idea of packing up and moving to the mountains. In my mind, Colorado is overdone and Utah has that religious stigma. Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, though, those are the untouched lands, the hidden gems of the U.S., that...

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Idaho

I swallow the dollar PBR hard. War or economics I’d have been prepared for, but salmon? The first time I started thinking about the plight of the salmon was 20 minutes ago when Burt, a former newspaper journalist that lives in Moscow, Idaho, sat down across from me. For him it’s a more familiar problem. “We’ve been talking about the same issues for decades, since I was in diapers,” he says. I knew I’d like Burt. A couple days before, I had gotten on the phone with him after being introduced by a mutual photojournalist friend. He was talking...

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