'I Feel Like The Vibe Is Changing': Meet The People Of Provo, Utah

Locals share their feelings on the city's diversity, student life and more.

Provo, Utah, was the 20th stop on our Listen to America road trip. We spoke to residents and passersby near the Provo City Library for a day. Here’s what they had to say: 

“I plan to stay here the rest of my life. We have lots of opportunities here for recreational things.”

― Burt Knudson, 79, retired

“I flee to here for the strict political persecution from China ... I’m very lucky to flee here and to tell the world what we are facing.”

― Rovssel Liu, 20, artist

“I decided to move here because I like hiking. I really like the community here because we have a really tight-knit kind of underground scene in Provo. We’ve got a really, really tight-knit queer community here.”

― Brianna Cluck, 24, direct support professional at home for adults with disabilities

“I think it’s just a great city and I think that it’s progressing ... I’ve been doing things to better [Brigham Young University] and also Provo. I think that’s the biggest part of BYU and Provo, the opportunity of being able to make the difference you want to see.”

― Erin Tapahe, 21, student

“I like going to BYU, but I’m not sure I’m going to stay in Utah because I’m more of a Democrat and I think I’d do better in a different part of the country.”

― Kirk Earl, 23, student

“It’s really a growing community. My kids go to a dual-immersion Mandarin-speaking program in elementary school. It’s growing. I feel like the vibe is changing here so we’re happy to be here.”

― Becca Kearl (and son, Theo), 37, works in nonprofit

“It’s full of opposition. It’s got brand new things going on. It’s got very traditional things. It’s got conservatives. It’s got a huge hipster movement. The LGBT community is really growing here.” 

― Jody England Hansen, 59, artist/activist

“We’re going back to school. It’s just kind of like an easy, slow, cheap place to live right now.”

― Beatriz Pahulo, 31, stay-at-home mom

“Moved here for school. Didn’t expect to get married and raise a family, but I love the environment and culture.”

― Peniva Pahulo, 32, freight associate

 “I spent five years in Provo ... It’s got a good feel to it, a good vibe. I enjoy that.”

― Jeffrey Butler, 41, financial adviser

“I’m from about half an hour north of here. My parents went to Brigham Young University, all my siblings have gone here so it’s where I wanted to go to school ... I like the college-town atmosphere.” 

― Emily Ashcraft, 24, student

“I converted to the LDS church in my early 20s. Came out to go to school in the late ’60s at BYU. Was here about a week and called my mother in the South and said, ‘I’m not sure I’ll ever come back there. I can breathe here.’”

― Joyce Baggerly, 77, retired

“It’s a relatively safe community. It’s more diverse than you might expect it to be. It’s where I live with my wife.”

― Alex Quinn, 34, student



Best Scenes From Provo On HuffPost's Listen To America Tour