The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Why I’m staying in the Gate City

Being raised outside Boston, I am frequently asked what possessed me to go to college in North Carolina. Now that I’ve graduated, some people are even more confused that I’ve decided to stay in Greensboro. What makes this place a desirable place to stay? Many of the reasons that I initially decided to move here for school are still applicable. I have known for a while that I need to live somewhere larger than the suburb I grew up in, but also find most cities too large to really put your hands around.

Greensboro is small enough that you can make a significant impact. In my time here, I helped start the Greensboro HIVE community space, Greensboro Indymedia, contributed to the campaign for a Civilian Review Board, and managed a City Council campaign. I have sat with reverends, gang members, City Council representatives, police officers, and local reporters.

At the same time, the Gate City is big enough to keep my interest. Too many people walk down Elm St. and think they’ve seen this city. Even after years of consistent effort to explore and discover Greensboro and the surrounding areas, new pieces of this place somehow keep appearing.

I wouldn’t stay here or anywhere unless I was able to find a number of specific things. There are numerous parks, both inside Greensboro and state parks nearby, allowing us to escape the concrete and traffic. Coffee shops and bakeries dot the landscape. In addition to the farmers markets and Deep Roots, restaurants like Zaytoon and Sticks & Stones offer locally sourced food, and we have a couple of local breweries nearby.

In the past month, I’ve gone to basement shows, explored a dozen new restaurants, checked out three art openings, attended the Mix Tape movie series, visited the Natural Science Center, and explored an abandoned mill.

This weekend is Greensboro Fest and the Tate St. Festival. There’s so much going on that I’ve missed things like the gun show, the Great N.C. Beer Festival, and countless other things I didn’t even know were happening.

One of Greensboro’s most discussed attractions is the low cost-of-living. It was enough to convince my old friend to move down here after graduating college in New York.

People often comment that Greensboro is a nice place to live because of its location between the mountains and the ocean. But there’s so much more in striking distance. There are countless vineyards like Stony Knoll, a drive-in movie theater in Eden, the Old Mill of Guilford, rafting at the Dan River, City Lake Park in Jamestown, and Uwharrie National Park.

The single most important factor contributing to my sense of place is my community. My college teachers connected me to the broader city through personal connections, job recommendations, the Reclaiming Democracy class with area schools, and assignments that forced me to call school board members and community organizers.

Greensboro is the only place that I have found intergenerational friendship, which in part speaks to the welcoming, relaxed culture in comparison to the impersonal nature of larger cities and the Northeast in general.

It’s true: there is no anarchist bookstore here, only one vegetarian restaurant, limited bike lanes, a scarcity of jobs, and a widespread reluctance to face difficult aspects of local history.

As with other post-industrial cities, however, there seems to be more hope for renewal and space for things to change. Through extensive community, Greensboro’s navigable size, and relative affordability, there is so much opportunity.

Most importantly, exciting things that are already here are constantly unveiling themselves, but you have to dive in to find them. Reading local news and checking flyers around town helps, but the best approach is constantly asking people – especially people who have lived here longer-for suggestions.

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