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What Were About

by Mark Peres

November 3,2004

One year ago, we published the inaugural issue of Charlotte ViewPoint magazine. As far we knew, it was the first non-commercial, community-inspired, net-centric magazine that spoke to a city's urban life and future. It was decidedly an amateur effort, and it is still today. Members of the team are not publishing professionals. No one is paid for contributing. We launched the magazine to have a voice, to offer a platform for citizens to create, and to help guide the body politic toward a point of view that celebrates the best of city living.

This month we have a new logo, website and magazine format. We're kind of excited about it. It suggests that we know what we're doing. But honestly, we're making it up as we go along. We do know that experimenting with a new medium and adding to street-level democracy is rewarding. We may not be at the leading edge of leveraging the Internet, but we do feel we are part of the pack that is redefining grassroots civic engagement. We are doing it with a positive outlook. We are doing it conscious of our tone (although sometimes we slip), aware that the aspect of the city's personality that we enjoy is hopeful, civil and forward-thinking.

The magazine also allows us to visit with new friends - a decidedly Charlottean pursuit. Relationships matter. They enrich our view of the world, they strengthen what we can achieve collectively, and they offer shared experiences that give us memories and fulfillment. Charlotte is a city that is growing in leaps and bounds, and yet feels smaller and more comfortable by the day. Charlotte is special in that regard, and it is due largely to the importance of relationship. This city functions one friendship at a time.

We seek to have an experience with our readers that is not unlike a good, spirited conversation at a café, where, oh by the way, one of us brings his or her family photo album to share. We offer an intellectual exchange, an occasional tidbit of news, and some great digital snapshots of the city. We hope to capture the rhythms and seasons of urban living, and, at the end of the day, offer a body of work that represents one small facet of the Charlotte kaleidoscope.

In this issue, we introduce a new regular columnist, Christa Wagner, who will share her perspectives on being a young citizen in Charlotte. There is much discussion in the city that Charlotte is not attracting the new creative class of young designers, software engineers and artists that bring verve, energy and new ideas. Initiatives are underway to brand Charlotte a more cool place for young professionals to call home. We support the initiative, and the substantive work that will give the brand meaning.

The substantive work that will further Charlotte's calling card as the best place to live in the nation includes raising the standard of living within our most fragile neighborhoods, lifting up the arts and sciences, bringing first-rate education to the Center City (here's one vote for a law school at the old Federal Courthouse), investing in transit and core lifestyle attractions like the U.S. National Whitewater Park, a NASCAR Museum, and, perhaps, family affordable minor-league baseball. This work must be done with principled planning that demands walkable streets, environmental sustainability, and neighborhood connectivity. This is the work that will elevate Charlotte. This is the work that will energize new human capital and citizenry.

Charlotte can very well be a green, technologically-advanced, integrated city that nurtures the lives of nearly all who live here. We have many blessings, from our mild weather to the deep pockets of our corporations to our faith-based, volunteer spirit. We have challenges too that threaten the good work that has been done. Those threats include creeping political extremism, a nervousness about new cultural ideas that borders on intolerance, and pervasive segregation. We believe that in many ways, the Center City best showcases all these forces at work. It is here that we live, it is here that we are invested, and it is here that we aim to contribute to the evolution of our community.

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