This week’s Barometer (page 7) asked our readers a specific question: Are you from around here? If so, did you leave and then come back? Or did you move here as an adult from somewhere else?
It’s an important question in the Triad, because being “from around here” imparts upon the citizen a special sort of status in a place where not too may people come and go.
At least, it used to be that way.
Nowadays, we figure, things are a little bit different.
Sure, there are plenty of folks who were born right here and will never venture from the 336 area code for long in their lives. But after years of steady migration, the demographic momentum is swinging in favor of the transplants. They come for the weather, and because their money goes a lot further. Anyone who’s lived in or around a big city before understands that our taxes are astonishingly low for the level of service we get for them.
These urban professionals alter our regional culture — demanding better restaurants and more sophisticated entertainment — and also the political landscape. To be a Republican on Long Island means something very different than to be one in Whitsett. And in North Carolina, all you need to be labeled a “liberal” is a desire for clean drinking water.
Then we have those who came from other countries — Latinos, Europeans, Asians, Middle Easterners, representatives form every corner of the African continent and more. This cosmopolitan element is what makes modern, valid cities.
Those in that last group — the ones who left and came back — may play the most important role in the evolution of the Triad.
The ones who left and went to big, functioning cities know what’s possible. They’ve seen viable public transportation in action, mingled in international urban circles, participated in a fully realized culture. They know these things can happen here.
And while big cities are becoming more stratified and expensive, making an interaction of diverse cultures more difficult and impeding creativity; our low cover charge in the cities of Triad give us more opportunity for diversity and originality
Plus, they’re “from around here,” giving their ideas a better chance not to be dismissed out of hand.