A Personal Giving of Thanks

As I write this piece, it’s exactly two weeks before Thanksgiving. And as you’re reading this, it’s likely a couple of weeks after. For many years, our family tradition has involved each person at the table listing at least one thing that they are thankful for. In the spirit of that tradition, I wanted to list just a few of the reasons I’m thankful that we moved to NoDa more than four years ago.

First—and I know a few will dispute this—I believe that NoDa is in its sweet spot right now. We’re still a bit funky, quirky, disjointed, and discombobulated. We’ve got a couple of massive new swanky apartment complexes and loads of breweries. But we’ve also got junkyards at our borders, a still-deserted immense mill just to the north, and a place-that-time-forgot section on Cullman and Benard Avenues just over the tracks. Nothing wrong with any of those relics. Just that we’re not exactly South End—at least not yet. I like that.

I’m thankful that when we walk up and down North Davidson Street and across 36th, we know a lot of the business owners, and they know us. We love to stop by and shoot the breeze with Joe Kuhlmann and Don and Chris Koster at the Evening Muse. A little down the way, we peek our heads in and catch up with Teresa Hernandez at Pura Vida. Further down North Davidson, we chat with AJ Klenk, who’s more than happy and proud to show us the progress on his new venture, the Goodyear House. In the good weather, there’s Jason Baker holding court at the NoDa Farmers’ Market at Canvas Tattoo, and he’s eager to show me his newest wrestling move. And when we feel like a longer walk, we check in with Christa Csoka at Artisans’ Palate, who’s happy to share her food and drink discoveries and the latest local art. Having lived in Indiana, Chicago, Amsterdam, and other parts of Charlotte, we’ve never felt more connected to our business community than we do in NoDa.

As I wrote here a couple of months ago, even though we have a great view of the skyline, we’ve got a ground-level view of wildlife in this area. Because of all of the native flowers planted in the neighborhood as part of the Butterfly Highway project, we see an increasing number of birds, bees, and butterflies visiting ours and neighbors’ gardens. And as many of our neighbors have pointed out, one needn’t look far to spot deer, possum, raccoons, hawks, and of course, coyotes. I love the mix of urban and our version of rural.

While we talk a lot about the great music, art, food, and historical buildings all around us, I’ve found most satisfying the sense of community that we’ve come to experience in NoDa. While we have friends from Herrin Avenue to The Plaza, from Charles Avenue to 35th Street, we’ve become especially close to the people living in our little enclave of “Secret NoDa” (Ritch and Benard Avenues). Having been cut off from the rest of the neighborhood for more than four years, as immediate neighbors we’ve developed a bond and closeness that I’ll remember no matter where we live in the future.

I have one final debt of gratitude before I close. I’m particularly thankful for the enormous work and love that Lauren Schalburg has poured into making the NoDa News one of the finest small neighborhood newspapers I’ve ever read. We’ll miss her after this, her final edition. Having worked with a number of editors in other venues, I’ve found Lauren to be one of the more thoughtful, flexible, and hard-working journalists I’ve been around.

I’m thankful for you, Lauren. I feel confident that I can speak for the neighborhood in this regard as well. We’ll miss your steady hand at the helm of the NoDa News.