Greensboro, A Love Letter

Greensboro, A Love Letter-small

Dear Greensboro,

Hey, it’s Kristen. How are you?

Wait, yeah, I know there’s a lot of you to go around, but in my head, the sum of your whole is the skyline buildings and the trains and scrubby trees that I see right outside my window. To be honest, it’s always been like that. When I was six years old, I got the chicken pox. The only thing I missed was driving from our home just off of Freeman Mill Road to see your skyline, which for the most part was in its second year of the completion renovation and enhancement. I always loved the symmetry of the points and the flatness of the squares. It’s little wonder that I grew up to start writing this blog and that my current day job has to do with promoting the building of buildings.

But there’s more to you than the outside package, the first impression, the quick glance. There’s a heart and a soul inside of you, that I want the world to know about. And in this time of the year that we take a special day to promote love, I wanted to let you know and the world know, how much I really actually love you.

I also want to make it clear that the love we have is a tough love. You are not just buildings, but you are made up of citizens, real people, some that treat me well and others who sometimes mistreat me. Sometimes I don’t treat them well either and sometimes I am their best friend in the world. Sometimes you don’t have that restaurant or that grocery store or that  touring entertainer that I want and that makes me sad. Even worse, sometimes your people say and do such ugly things to each other, that I get really mad at you and i want to give up on you and run away.

But then I remember that you are a city that’s never shied away from its battles and the battles of the greater humanity. You provided the opportunity for four black men to take a sit, not a stand, but a sit, and change the course of history. You lost a lot of your major industry, yet, you have yet to go bankrupt. Your people have come together to build us ballparks and regular parks and  provide a decent shelter for those without one,  and stand up for public school teachers and its young students. 

You’re a work in progress, but so am I. Every good city grows and we are doing that, together. The old saying is that Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are you Greensboro. I pray that I have the patience to endure your growing pains and that you continue to have the empathy to endure mine.

Love,

Kristen

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About Kristen Jeffers

I'm Kristen. Almost five years ago, I got tired of not seeing black women as nerded out about trains, better streets, riding bikes, walking not just out of necessity, tall buildings, old buildings and honestly a lot of other things. I was in grad school for community and economic development (ok, it’s actually an MPA), and I wanted to make sure people knew I existed and that I could help them do this thing called placemaking better. Five years later, I’m still doing that, although not from my hometown of Greensboro, NC, but from Kansas City, MO. I spend most of my time in Kansas City promoting better biking and walking infrastructure metro-wide with BikeWalk KC and the Kansas City B-cycle. But I also wrote a book A Black Urbanist (you can grab that over on the right) and sometimes I give speeches and help other communities tell their stories at design charrettes and public meetings. I’ve also written or appeared in all of the major “urbanist” publications, either as a subject or as a writer, as well as most of my hometown papers as subject or writer as well.