Like many of my high school classmates, I never had plans to stay in my hometown of Roanoke, located in southwestern Virginia.
Among other reasons, it seemed to lack that something special in terms of arts and culture. The local theater had reduced its performance season; a much-anticipated visual art museum was struggling to stay open; and the independent bookstore closed to become just another bar.
And so, as is common, I left my hometown in pursuit of graduate school and a job in a metropolitan area. I was perfectly situated within walking distance to public transit, yoga studios, cafes, and world-class performance centers.
But now, I’m starting to look back.
Roanoke and its surrounding areas have begun to capitalize on its rich cultural history. Let me be specific, this culture is not new, yet it has just been unearthed with contemporary knowledge of cultural vitality, opportunities for partnerships and economic development, and community leadership and buy-in.
Roanoke has taken steps to put itself on the list of desirable places to live and has done so by elevating its distinct heritage. Read the rest of this entry »