For a guy who enjoys history, I’m always ½ excited to hear stories that make the American experience richer, but also ½ pissed that I was so lame in not knowing about it earlier. Case in point—Durham, NC…the home of Parrish Street, the Black Wall Street.
Of course, like most of you, I leaned most of what I know about Durham from the Kevin Costner movie, Bull Durham—a point that I’m sure drives the locals mad (second only to getting second billing to Raleigh). Anyway…I went down there to speak at the annual training of student leaders from Nourish International, an amazing student driven hunger program (currently on 21 campuses), that is expanding nationwide at an exciting pace. While I was in the hood, I stopped by to hang with my old chum and former Mt Pleasant next door neighbor Chris Gergen.
Chris is leading Bull City Forward which is one of the country’s front-of-the-pack, red HOT efforts to drive local economies into the black by using the power of social enterprise. Chris has been a leading voice on this concept for a decade, but he found in his new hometown of Durham an entire community that was, front to back, up for getting down. The Mayor, the Chamber, the City Manager, Duke University…man, they are all on board, and you can feel the electricity in the air as you walk the streets of the city and marvel at its amazing transformation. They are nurturing and empowering an entire new breed of businesses down there and, most important, asking students of the universities that are clustered around the city to STAY, and be part of this amazing future.
Here’s a too short video clip, filmed by my new friend (and Bull City Badass), Liz Linzer, right outside of the TROSA Frame Shop, and down the street from the Scrap Exchange, two of…oh, I’d sayyy, about 4,000,000 diverse, dynamic and double-barreled businesses that are part of what is making Durham a city of the future.
Bull City Forward is about to release their three-year strategic plan. If I was the Mayor or the Board of Trade Chair of ANY city in America that was itching to figure out what comes next (and avoid the trap of trying to build a mall or attract a factory)—I’d call my travel agent right now and say, “Durham, Please…STAT”.