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Reflections on Center City Living

by Michael Carson

April 3,2004

Recent events in my life have caused me to ponder my past experiences and reflect on how I got to where I am today. One thing I discovered is that my stay in Uptown Charlotte has taught me a lot about community, business and friendship. As a result of moving into the Center City, I have grown as a person.

Prior to moving Uptown, I lived in South Charlotte for a year. Although South Charlotte has its positives, life in the two areas can’t be more different.

When I first moved to Charlotte, I searched for ways to get involved in the community, but, surprisingly, I often hit roadblocks…Ladies and Gentlemen, it should never be a difficult task for a person to find an outlet for humanitarian efforts. For me, it wasn’t until I moved into the Center City that I had the opportunity to become involved in volunteer activities. Not only was my helping hand welcomed, it was re- quested. The Uptown community valued my involvement. It also presented me, an unproved leader, with opportunities to lead and represent the group.

On the business side, one of the most exciting aspects of living Uptown is having the ability to see free enterprise in action. I have watched and learned from enterprising small owners – such as Emily Fisher, the 20- something owner of the trendy and eclectic, New York-esque wine bar, Cuvee – as they opened the doors of their businesses in pursuit of a dream and financial success. Nowhere in town, that I have seen, have small businesses had such a dramatic effect on their neighborhoods as in Center City Charlotte.

The biggest change I’ve experienced since moving to Third Ward, though, has been my relationship with my neighbors. In South Charlotte, I rarely saw my neighbors and seldom had a conversation that extended beyond the courteous hello and goodbye.  In the Center City, I have formed bonds with many of my neighbors that extend well beyond formal niceties.

With all these experiences, I do wonder why there is such a vast difference in life between the Center City and the suburbs. Is it the people? Are Uptown dwellers a different breed? Are we more adventurous or more concerned? Not likely. Maybe, it’s that suburbanites have families and we urban dwellers tend to be single or maybe it’s just a matter of free time – suburbanites do spend a great deal of time commuting.

Or maybe it’s the Center City’s diversity. Uptown is the home of a rather diverse set of views, cultural backgrounds, ethnicities and incomes. I don’t know the answer. I’m just glad to have the opportunity to live in the area. The entire experience has made me a better person.

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