‘Hood Happenings #1

Written by Liz Eagle

'Hood Happenings
Entry 1: Why I love the ‘hood
By: Liz Eagle

villa-heightsSo, I’ve been living in “Charlotte”-Charlotte for about 3 years now. I’m one of those weird ones that grew up “around here” (tiny Kings Mountain, about 30 exits down I-85, to be exact) but not in the actual city. I spent my 4 college years in Virginia, then back down to NC. I commuted to Charlotte for EVERYTHING my first few years back home, always ending up in either Plaza Midwood or NoDa for a night or afternoon out, or Freedom Park to walk the Greenway, with my then-tiny babe.

Finally, we decided to take the plunge heavenward and move to the “big City”. People back home often ask me “How do you like it over there?” and “Do you think you’ll ever come back?” and, from my mother, “We’ve got a great little house you could move into.” Sure mom. We’ll just all move back and right in with you, k? (That’ll shut any empty-nester up. Give it a try.)

I didn’t spend too much time in Charlotte as a kid. My parents were more into fish camps than fine dining and state parks than stadiums. So, honestly, I really don’t remember Charlotte “back in the day”. I remember hitting up the Mint Museum and The Spaghetti Factory yearly with my art club and the James K. Polk memorial in 8th grade for a field trip (when every other class got to go to the Renaissance Festival or Lineville Gorge. Just my luck). I even remember hitting up the Evening Muse my freshman year of college to see a kid I knew in high school play.

When we actually moved here a few years ago, I wasn’t really sure what to hope for. All I knew that driving 45 minutes so I could experience something outside of small-town America was getting old and we needed a change. So we moved to South Park into a townhome, looking forward to getting to know our neighbors, the way I had every where else I lived. Kings Mountain has got some damn good neighbors, let me tell ya. But, I was grossly disappointed. It was smug. It was trite. It was, well, boring. No one ever spoke to you, unless you parked in their spot or your dumb dog escaped.

We were only pseudo-disappointed a few summers ago when our townhome caught on fire and we had to move. (Sounds more dramatic than it was, I promise). We spent 2 full days in the car driving around town, looking into different affordable neighborhoods. We drove through Wilmore, Plaza, NoDa, and settled upon our current ‘hood, Villa Heights.

I’ve got to admit that at first, I was a bit skeptical. I would drive through the neighborhood and past our home-to-be various times of the day prior to moving in just to see “how safe the neighborhood was”. You know, classic white-folk inquiry. Once it passed my 5-point inspection, we signed a lease and rented a Uhaul.

Does this seem like a long story? I promise I have a point.

With my upbringing, and frankly my college years as well, being spent in small towns with more churches than people and a competitive array of fast food joints, I felt pretty at-ease with Villa Heights. In fact, more than at ease. Kind of in love.

It was everything I wanted: small town feel with great, unpretentious neighbors, with all the conveniences of a big-ol’ city. The more time I spend here, the more I am able to become involved with our neighborhood association and all the wonderful people who call this place home, whether living here a few months or dang near close to their whole lives.

In spite of being looped into NoDa and occasionally Plaza Midwood, Villa Heights is a neighborhood holding it’s own. We’ve got identity. We’ve got character. We’ve got a lot of people working together to improve upon great foundations that have been laid in years past by previous Neighborhood Watch and Community Organization members and leaders. In the next few months, we will see a community art project take place with local artists and neighbors, a community garden dug up by ‘hood residents and a bike trail through our park, to make our neighborhood even more inviting.

It feels good to be a part of something bigger than me, even if it is a small neighborhood. It is enlightening to meet and know so many people of differing backgrounds who are so inviting and willing to help any time it is needed. My neighbor, Mr. Eddie, let us borrow a wrench (who doesn’t have a wrench?!?) to take training wheels off my oldest’s bike, as well as lots of other outdoorsy things we’ve neglected to purchase over the years. I’ve got neighbors who watch my kids- for free. And I’ve got other neighbors who don’t mind our chickens roaming their back yard, as long as we share our eggs. I can think of quite a few places in town that wouldn’t fly.

I know that to my friends and family down the road, this seems like the “big city” and they worry about traffic and crime and all the parts of the city they see exploited on every possible news venue. But I’m here to tell you that there is a lot of good to living in the ‘hood. And there’s a lot of movement to make this city better, and it’s not limited to Villa Heights. Charlotte is a city of community and is made up (almost) of tons of small “towns” doing their best to be the best they can be.

And that is why, yes, I do like it “over here”.

*I’m excited to see what other great changes are happening in the ‘hoods in and around our city. Know of something great going on? Contact me, Liz Eagle, at {INSERT LIZ COMPANY EMAIL HERE} so we can get ya some good ol’ fashioned press.


Liz Eagle   Liz Eagle

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