Placebook: Lessons from Another Angle of Downtown Greensboro


There’s one building of the downtown Greensboro skyline that I’d never been in.  At least until yesterday.  That would be the Renaissance Plaza, the one straight ahead in the background of the above image. And on top of that, I got to go to the top floor and as you can see it was a sunny winter day. It’s one thing to have the view that I have  at home where I can see all the pinnacles of power (or tall buildings, however you want to view the Greensboro skyline), the trains and a few cars driving through Hamburger Square. In that building, I was able to see downtown from a whole different angle, and not just downtown, but the tree cover past my home and this mountain thing that appeared to be in Randolph County to the south. I also got a sense of how being in a different building, at a different angle, can truly change how one sees a city.

That change in perspective reminded me that there are so many views, perspectives and people who aren’t clued into the civic battles we face on a daily basis. Later on in the evening, I met a whole new set of neighbors at our monthly resident social. These neighbors had no clue of what was going on in the city and all the political battles we’ve been facing lately. Yet, they were happy. Well, there were other issues, but nobody at that bar was wanting for food, clothing or shelter. Many had lived in other areas and traveled the world.

What I would most want, is to be able to maintain a sense of home and place, but also recognize more of my role as a world citizen. To remember that I, like those other neighbors, have the privilege to see different perspectives, to help many people and to experience personal growth.

And with that, I would like to announce that some changes are coming to this email and this website. You’ll get a bigger announcement about them in the coming days, but for now, watch for subtle changes. What won’t change is the roundup of news and here’s your dose of news and lessons for today:

News from North Carolina

A jacked-up, abandoned house in a prominent corner of downtown Greensboro could become a new law office and the next collaboration of our local colleges and universities, this time around student art projects.

Terry Wood will be Greensboro’s interim city attorney.

Ham’s Lakeside has closed. So has Forsyth County’s first winery. So could the Forsyth County Youth Detention Center,  but the county would still have to pay some group to handle juvenile detention.

Piedmont Grown held their third annual conference, bringing together local food producers and raising awareness of local food options throughout the Triad, as well as best practices for farming in the area.

Salem Lake Greenway users now have a better, safer detour for the 18 months that the main greenway will be closed for nearby construction.

The latest addition to the District 1 Guilford County Commissioners race could shake up both the school board and the board of commissioners if she wins.

All four of the schools in North Carolina named national schools of character are Guilford County Schools.

Triangle Transit is officially in the planning stages of the Durham-Orange light rail line.

The state’s commercial hog farms are facing a disease epidemic.

Publix makes its North Carolina début today.

News and Lessons from Everywhere Else

Lots of people in a city may be stressful, but they also help with innovation and creativity and overall happiness.

The American love affair with houses and cars, in graphs.

A Florida woman is ordered to get back on the grid, after she’s found to not be off the grid as much as she thought, at least with her water system.

Neighbors in New Orléans gathered to foil a robbery of a Banksy piece created there after Hurricane Katrina.

Surprising ways retiring Congressman John Dingell was good for the environment.

How religion has urbanized a county in Upstate New York.

Hollywood’s no longer the movie-making capital of the world. How California wants to get that crown back. Meanwhile, is San Francisco losing its soul?

And finally, more college groups are taking up the mantle of protest again, due to racial, class and other injustices found on their campuses.

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.