Who's Your City?, by Richard Florida
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A round block stuck in a square hole


I live in Wilson, NC– a very small town that’s trying to act like a big city with a small town attitude. Even though we have a growing and thriving international population, the powers that be are dominated by the ‘ole boys club’: white males over the age of 40. Museums for adults do not exist in this town, the library is wonderful (in part due to folks who don’t live in Wilson), and a few international restaurants are starting to open. Wilson’s claim to fame is tobacco and its location: about 50 miles east of Raleigh and 40 miles west of Greenville.

I did not go through the local school system as a child. I went to a Math/Science High school in a large city, attended a Liberal Arts college, then grad school in Lexington, KY. I had to come back to help with an ailing mother, who is still alive. She wants to remain in Wilson–this is her hometown and her family is here. I’m also a math teacher.

I find a lot of native Wilsonian petty, unthinking, ultra conservative, racist (both the blacks and whites) and so religious (i.e. they can justify their racism, homophobia and hatred of strong women from the Bible). My tolerance level is hitting an all time low with such thinking. My small band of friends are not from Wilson (but live here, even though most are talking about leaving themselves), and when I want to go and see art, plays, clubs etc., I have to travel 50 miles to Raleigh.

So what city do you suggest?

Sent by Paully from Wilson, NC

3 Responses to “A round block stuck in a square hole”

  1. Tarheel Says:

    If you want to stay close, you might want to move to Chapel Hill, its very liberal, has some great bars, great schools, tons of intellectuals, a thriving music scene, and many many many international restaurants, bars, and people!

  2. Leah Says:

    I haven’t been there – live in Sonoma County, California, which is very liberal – but have heard good things about Asheville, NC, and would love to visit. Sounds similar to Tarheel’s description of Chapel Hill. I am curious to know what you think of Asheville, because my criteria for a good place to live is pretty much the same as what you described.

  3. MetalSeagull Says:

    I grew up in Wilson, and I knew that when I finished high school, I would be leaving and not going back. I live in Wilmington now. It has more to offer culturally, and of course the beach is appealing. People are more tolerant here, although its still too religious for me. At least here, only a rare few people greet a stranger with, “So, what church do you belong to?” (I’m atheist. That can be a rough start to a conversation.)

    Asheville and Wilmington “feel” roughly equivalent in cultural acceptance and entertainment possibilities.

    I’ve been thinking more and more about moving toward Raleigh and Chapel Hill. Its closer to family, generally more liberal, has more educational opportunities, and offers more entertainment. We go up there for off-Broadway shows and concerts.

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