Has it really been 10 days since I last climbed into the bully pulpit?
Yes, in fact, I had a whole post worked up about the great May 24th issue of The Independent Weekly
regarding their cover story, "What's So Scary About Durham?" I figured they might catch some grief for the cover photo of two young African-American boys goofing for the camera with hands stained with mulberry juice, but as Richard Hart
elaborated, most readers appreciated the dichotomy:
"We're so conditioned by our misconceptions about Durham that, when presented with an innocent photograph of two boys playing in the park, we're inclined to assume the worst."
The complete story
on the making of the Durham image is a good read, especially since it was assigned to a new writer and Duke undergrad, Jeff Stern, who has only lived in Durham for a brief time. It is refeshingly unbiased look at what has contributed to the negative view of Durham outside of Durham. But my favorite part were the stories from readers on "Why I Love Durham"
that read like nice little blog posts.
One of my favorites:
"Durham has an authenticity and integrity that other communities couldn't buy if they wanted to. Durham's problems are real, but unlike the typical dysfunctional Southern community, Durham doesn't hide its problems behind social or political comfort. The conversation in Durham is out, and is getting air. Durham is attending these issues ... the big issues ... that other communities are ignoring: race, crime, poverty, equality, violence, privilege and class. Durham is a place for people who love their community almost more than anything else. The tide of this community is rising, and it is lifting all the ships, and that's why Durham is going to succeed in ways we can't even imagine." --Scott Harmon
The link also has some comments contributed via the web, including:
"What I love most about Durham is its diversity. Sitting on my steps some days I can hear Latino music playing in the background, while smelling soul food coming from next door. I see an elderly Pakistani woman walking down the street and admiring the gardens in the neighborhood. I see small kids of all colors running up and down the street and in my yard, laughing and playing basketball. I see gay and lesbian couples walking their dogs and racially mixed heterosexual couples enjoying the same outing. I find these old neighborhoods in Durham fascinating by how they are transitioning from the old stereotypical American homes and neighborhoods to more diverse homes and neighborhoods that outwardly show different cultures. To me Durham is a great example of what America truly is...." --Donald Bradsher
Oh yes, and many of the stories talk about our PhD density (the old "tees, trees, and PhDs" pitch), great restaurants, schools, and shops, but I think that what differentiates Durham from many other cities are the people who live here. Several nice comments are from people who've moved here from New York City and other cultural centers.
As Miss Esther Bent noted therein that Durham is full of foodies, I should mention that the little one and I also had a great time at The Taste of Durham
in Brightleaf and Peabody Place last weekend (although we could've used a little more shelter from the sun in the middle of the parking lot). NBC-17 News' towering evening anchorman, Bill Gaines
, was incredibly gracious about being there to press the flesh and even chat with my little girl. What a great way to bring people near downtown who didn't want to schlug off with the masses for a Memorial Day weekend. You really get to see and feel the future coming to life around the old Liggett & Myers buildings and West Village. The renovation of the Brightleaf Square courtyard is also seeming to pay off. It was just a feel-good Bull City weekend.
Seems appropriate to close with an online quote by Beth Livingston
: "Being the underdog of the Triangle, Durham seems to try a little harder, and we care for one another a little more. In fact, what I've found is that Durham is a diamond in the rough, and as such, is the true jewel of the Triangle. But only for those whose hearts and eyes are open."