Constructing the "Quality of Life" City: "Boise Is Best"

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Contribution to Books

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Boise has been awarded many accolades in city rankings over the past decade. Between 2004 and 2012, Boise has appeared on lists that deem it a top healthy city; a top music city; a top turnaround town; a great place for paddling; a top adventure town; a best place to retire; a most physically active city; a most underrated city; a top college football town; a top city for green building; a top bike-friendly city; a best city for raising kids; a best city for business, careers, and economic growth; a most inventive city; a top undiscovered market; a top "super city of the future"; a "Sportstown USA"; and a best city to live, work, and play. In addition, it has been said to have some of the nation's best urban parks, workplaces for commuters, and carbon footprint. The sources of these rankings range from Time, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, CNN Money, and MSN to Sports Illustrated, National Geographic Adventure, Parenting, and Kiplinger's Personal Finance.1 Each of the rankings may be read as a "text" reflecting a discourse2 that shapes the ways people come to know Boise. Whether people have never seen Boise or whether they have lived in Boise their whole lives, these texts guide everyone to see the city as having some attributes that are deemed more important than others. Quality-of-life discourses, in particular, have become ways of reflecting what desirable cities should entail; such discourses presented Boise in glowing terms.

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