Actually, I wasn't talking about the region you live in
(Pacific Northwest). I have colleagues who live in Portland, Seattle, Vancouver & various parts of California who, with some initial effort, ended up being very successful therapists, teachers and artists. I have family up there & love visiting them.
I was specifically talking about the Southwest - Colorado, Utah, Nevada & Arizona (and parts of New Mexico). I only know from my experience as well as other art therapists, art teachers, special ed teachers, mental health counselors/ psychotherapists, artists & puppeteers. Most of my colleagues who were tempted by the mountains moved here, gave it their best & moved away if they decided to remain in their field or
if they were determined to stay, pursued another field. Some of my colleagues ended up doing paralegal work, administration & substance abuse counseling. I tried, & found it was not for me.
I forget that not everyone knows more than one definition to culture (I discovered this on a Colorado list that the members weren't aware of the other definition). By culture, I don't mean race or ethnicity. I mean environment, climate of an area, recreational and cultural happenings indigeous to an area. For example: The culture of East Village is funky & eccentric compared to the culture of the Upper West Side.
The culture of Ann Arbor is atypical compared to the rest of Michigan. Chicago's culture & environment is more eclectic compared to the surrounding area. Florida has a diverse, rich culture in some cities. etc. etc. So Bill, I was not intending to make racist comments- so you can relax. :-)
I lived in NYC, Chicago, Detroit & Ann Arbor. I loved the diversity & fast pace of their environments. My experiences were that people accepted me for who I am, the way I look & dress & act. I received the all annoying 'where are you from'= 'what's your ethnic background?' rude comments much more so in Colorado than anywhere else.
But even more so, I had to explain art therapy & alternative therapy techniques on every interview I went on, explain art and creative (special ed) techniques to HR staff at school districts, and I have to say, most of the interviewers just didn't get it. They didn't understand how art therapy could be affective, how the arts are crucial for a well rounded education and how special needs populations learn more by hands on activities that focus on visual and kinesthetic techniques. Again, that goes back to the lack of awareness of the arts & the importance of the arts in this area.
I have sent resumes to places, 7, 8, 9 times, would call from time to time to check the status. Nothing. I would have 2 hour interviews & I would call the employer 1,2 times and they never returned my phone calls. The HR at the school district was downright rude & unprofessional. And if you are wondering if it's just me, I've asked other therapists, teachers and artists and they report similiar stories.
Beyond the East Coast & West Coast, my colleagues reported that they had more success in Chicago, Florida and Ohio. I don't know what the economic situation is in these areas, just that my colleagues have had success getting jobs & the attitude towards the arts is positive.