Core member of the 512 Collective
Lives in: Greensboro
Travels to: High Point
Beka Butts’ New Year’s resolution is to start dipping her toes in the water that is Winston-Salem. She’s put a lot of focus lately into High Point, where her artistic and organizational involvement in the 512 Collective has been catalytic, but she hasn’t been able to spend the amount of time getting acquainted with Winston-Salem that she would like to.
The Triad should really function as one metropolis, Butts said. In some ways, it already does, but she would like to see more people talking about the area as a whole. Butts is hopeful about the direction all three cities seem to be headed in, adding that she hopes it starts to be seen more as a place where a twentysomethings can live, work and do things they are passionate about.
She’s seen the payout for those who dig in and take a chance rather than remaining suspended in a permanent state of hesitation. Taking chances — like accepting an offer to be involved in a studio space in High Point even though she lives in Greensboro — has paid off big time, she said.
Now Butts in getting involved in the broader Washington Street District around the artist collective and gallery space, helps put on events at the Third City’s library, and teaches 8- to 12-year olds twice a week as well. Oh, and she also works part time at an Italian restaurant in Greensboro.
And she has plenty more she wants to see happen, like getting the city of High Point to work with them to activate vacant spaces and encouraging more people to take chances like she has.
Sometimes Butts runs into High Point natives who live in Greensboro now who tell her there is nothing happening in their hometown. But she knows better. People need to look more deeply, she said, taking note of the grassroots things that are springing up.
It may take time to build, she acknowledged, but it’s important. The energy and momentum seem to be there, with heartening developments such as Dance From Above at the Crown combining local music and art, she said.
Rather than complaining about the Triad lacking the events, galleries, markets or other things that people want to see happen, Butts said it is incumbent on people to make that change themselves.
“If we don’t see it already then we’ll just make it,” she said. “I think [this] is a great place for that.”
Marketing consultant, Southern Wine & Spirits
Lives in: Greensboro
Travels to: Winston-Salem
When we worked together, years ago, Jessica Schell didn’t realize there was an invisible boundary between the cities of the Triad.
New to Greensboro, the western Pennsylvania transplant just got in her car and drove, blissfully unaware of the taboo regarding travel between the cities of the Triad.
Now she’s lived in downtown Greensboro and downtown Winston-Salem without restricting her social or professional life to either one.
As a liquor rep, she says, “I go to where the cool, craft places are.”
Her job brings her from Greensboro throughout the western part of the state, all the way to Asheville and back again.
She sees the 30 miles separating Greensboro from Winston-Salem as negligible.
“It’s nothing to me,” she says. “I go to Winston-Salem five or six times a week. Don’t take regular 40, take Business 40 and go through Kernersville. It goes by really fast if you’ve got a couple of buddies in the car with you.”
And though she again calls Greensboro home, she gives the current edge to Winston-Salem.
“What I say is that Winston people come to Greensboro, but Greensboro people do not go to Winston,” she says. “And that’s kind of how it’s always been. People haven’t caught on yet, but they will: Winston-Salem is more like Asheville now. It passed Greensboro and [Greensboro] people are just now catching on to it. It’s just 30 miles, but it’s two totally different worlds. It just really is.”
Emily Stewart Baker
Cofounder of the Breathing Room
Lives in: Greensboro
Travels to: Winston-Salem
A car accident with a tractor on Friendly Avenue in Greensboro set Emily Stewart Baker on the path of her two vocations — music and holistic healing — and likely sealed her decision to stay in the Triad after graduating from Guilford College.
With time on her hands, she picked up a guitar and taught herself to play, discovering pockets of songwriters and musicians in the process. She also learned about alternative medicine.
“During the time I was recovering from the accident, I had discovered so many different healing modalities,” Stewart Baker recalled.
Music, in turn, led to Stewart meeting her future business partner, Suzy McCalley.
McCalley brought her violin to a rehearsal of Stewart’s band, the Baby Teeth.
“I think we were at a potluck one night and just started talking,” Stewart Baker said. “She had been conceiving of the idea of the Breathing Room. She was aware that the West End Mill Works was coming.”
Stewart Baker had previously worked at 2 Art Chicks, a studio/gallery that leased space to artists in the building that currently houses Mellow Mushroom on South Elm Street in Greensboro. Joining McCalley as a partner at the Breathing Room in Winston-Salem, she brought the same model. “It’s definitely about bringing people together who might be working alone or might be working at home or in a rented office space,” she said. “It allows people to work together, in tandem and to allow people to exchange ideas.”
The Breathing Room has brought in a handful of practitioners from Greensboro, including hypnotherapist Andrew Eversole and massage therapist Alicia Bullard, along with at least one practitioner from High Point.
Running a business in Winston-Salem while living in Greensboro opens up new networking opportunities, but presents logistical challenges. A lot of Stewart’s work for the business, including graphic design and financial management, can be handled from home or on tour, while meetings and her reiki practice require her to be physically in Winston-Salem.“It’s great to be open to those two communities,” she said. “It definitely takes a lot of planning. I do work from home a lot. I do really try to plan my days in Winston very carefully, so I can squeeze in as much as possible.”
Stewart Baker said she’s noticed a psychological barrier to traveling between the two cities among many people, but a select few have recognized the 30-minute commute is not that daunting.
“I’ve always wanted to dig into Winston,” she said. “I used to go to shows at Krankies and the Garage, but that was the extent of my involvement. I figured it would happen sooner or later, and it did.”
Ultimately, the sum is greater than the individual parts.“I’ve gotten to know wonderfully creative people in all three cities,” Stewart Baker said. “I’m really happy to have dug into Winston and met more people. I think there’s a lot of growing, changing and moving going on in the Triad.”