The Internet has created a new mobility that allows some to live anywhereAmericans are moving to communities for a host of reasons that were not in play 15 years ago. Livability is the oft repeated asset that draws newcomers. One reason that mobility has been redefined is the Internet, which allows certain professionals to live anywhere. Another magnet is aesthetics. People are drawn to places where the arts and culture flourish.

The 100 Best Small Art Towns in America published in 1994 listed Astoria among five Oregon communities. Various Astoria events this weekend are designed to showcase the arts, just as Cannon Beach's Stormy Weather Arts Festival did the same on a recent weekend and the Water Music Festival did on the Long Beach (Wash.) Peninsula in late October.

Newly mobile professionals are drawn to communities that foster the arts because the aesthetics of architecture, music, theater, painting and sculpture feed the soul in the way that a strip mall or big box store cannot.

Pairing an arts competition with the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial is an inspired concept. As Erhard Gross noted in our Monday front-page article, the art that surrounds the Lewis and Clark Expedition is largely dated. Even highly respected artists such as Charles Russell would doubtless do some of their paintings differently these days. Like history, art is revised by every generation. In other words, there is a practical, as well as an aesthetic need to encourage new paintings about the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Like the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, the Journey's End National Art Exhibition will draw attention to this corner of America. The wave of visitors that is coming our way is not theme park tourism. That's a good thing, because it will bring people who will respond to the natural beauty of this region as well as its history, architecture, culture and arts.