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Generations of people came to the Midwest in hopes of finding a better life. But economic opportunity has been harder to find since the recession began, and people have left the region in record numbers in search of jobs or a better housing market. Changing Gears “Midwest Migration” project is collecting photos, stories, and voicemail messages from former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the recession of 2008.We’re mapping where people ended up, and we're sharing their stories about why they left and whether life is better for them now.We’ll also hear whether they plan to return to the Midwest.You can share your Midwest migration story here, and see responses on our Midwest Migration tumblr page.The Midwest Migration will run through mid-February 2012.

After a reluctant move, finding the right cultural vibe in Portland, Ore.

Changing Gears'Midwest Migration” project is featuring the stories of former Midwesterners – people who have left region since the 2008 recession.

Name: Zoe Johnson
Midwest Home: Detroit, MI
New Home: Portland, OR

My former husband worked for a company which was a support arm of the auto industry. We left the city of Detroit and moved to Portland. I have mixed feelings about the move but overall it was a good choice. I am self-employed which has been challenging.

My youngest daughter, who is 25, just moved from the Metro Detroit area in October of 2011. She had been without employment in Michigan for several years. She found a job immediately after arriving in the Portland Metro area and is much happier overall.

I would not move back to the Midwest. The culture and mindset is much different, the economy has suffered, and the infrastructure is grounded on old belief systems.

The values of the people here in the Pacific Northwest are more closely aligned with my own philosophy and values.

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