I’ve been writing recently about real estate, these nice little attractive, trendy niche markets in Atlanta, Tampa, and Portland. Customers love to sink their teeth into the touchy feely details of a place in which they might just buy a house, want to live, raise kids, find a job, moor a boat, and patronize a coffee shop.
I like those things, as well. I enjoy reading about the mixed use neighborhoods, the urban lofts, and the emergence of a diverse fresh energy at work in many cities. There is now a sudden abundance of just such content. I use the term content unfavorably, actually. The term has become synonymous with “stuff”; stuff to fill up a space; typically an online space. Doesn’t have to be a website, can be a blog, a classified, even a direct mail email.
When I consider the tid-bits of a place that I have wanted to know in advance of relocating, I am suddenly foraging for a deeper layer of place and location; personal, intimate, neighborhood corners, not just real estate trends and MLS listings. We’re talking independent coffee shop; jazz radio station; live music venues; ethnic groceries; small pharmacies; a bakery; a college CD store that smells like a head shop when you hit the door. I want to know if my potential new home is progressive or subversive enough to spawn and nurture a decent independent newspaper; an independent movie theater; a summertime blues festival, no matter how slap-dash.
Outside of the walls of a renovated bungalow or beachside cottage, the intimate folds of a place are what keep us close, the scent of the rain on the curb, the hotdog stand guy, the aqua door of the bait and tackle shop. This means something.
Every place has its thing, its creases and particular scent, the afternoon glow of the sun about it that casts its shadow just a shade differently from the next street corner.
“Gorgeous, Renovated” means nothing really without any spicy Thai food nearby, or a warehouse district carving out an ambient sound at night, railroad cars with artful graffiti. I want homemade pizza and homebrewed beer and a little irreverent newspaper that has the ink of a local printer. I want very un-Starbucks coffee. I want to be a native.