Recently, The Commonspace asked me for an article on the civic and cultural scene in Winston-Salem / High Point / Greensboro, NC. (I met Brian at the Memphis Manifesto, and I am honored to combine my most poignant writing with some sales skills that would make the local Convention and Visitors Bureau blush.)
However, as I pondered our civic and cultural scene, it struck me: who will care? Ok, our metro area has over 1 million people, believe it or not. But we're an old-school, blue-collar, manufacturing and industrial area where no one comes to visit unless it's for a purpose. What possible difference could it make what the busy little worker bees in Piedmont Triad, North Carolina, do for fun?
Then it dawned on me I have never been to St. Louis. Or any other of a number of "un-sexy" places in America. We all know where the sexy places are: NYC, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, LA, Vegas, Seattle, Miami, etc.
Yet, just like a myriad of "un-sexy" places, the Piedmont Triad of NC bubbles with an undercurrent of life beyond the four walls of work and home. We locals know that tourists don't clamor to our local clubs like they would to nightspots in SoHo or South Beach. And we're cool with that. In fact, it gives us license to relax while taking our culture seriously enough to support the local "scene."
In fact, I have found that seven years in middle-class North Carolina have made me a better traveler in sexy and un-sexy places alike. That is, I now possess the knowledge of how to find and enjoy diamonds in the rough. I hope that many of you are feeling a "me, too" right now.
Plus I have to say one thing that is as true for nightlife as it is for doing business or having friendships: people make all the difference. Around here I can go out by myself, to almost any event or activity, and be assured that I will know people once I get there. Or know people who know people. Sure, I run into the occasional ex-girlfriend. But I'd rather have it that way than feel threatened, anonymous, or downright unwelcome.
Once again, is any of this ringing a bell? It probably should be. We do have some unique things and places in our little part of North Carolina. We have a cool Shakespeare festival every fall in High Point, a top-notch contemporary art center in Winston-Salem, and a growing war chest towards various civil rights museums and initiatives in Greensboro.
But we have a lot of the same places, faces, and graces that every other un-sexy place has. Look around, relish them. The mundane is at once what makes our hometowns great and what makes us long for our hometowns to become more.
Our civic and cultural scene in Winston-Salem / High Point / Greensboro, NC, is just fine, thank you very much. And if you ever find yourself here, feel free to drop my name.
Ty Daurity is a community banker and freelance writer living in Winston-Salem, NC. He was a member of the "Creative 100" and a participant at the "Memphis Manifesto" in Memphis, TN on May 1-2, 2003.