Today’s post is part of our “Townies Takeover” series! In this series we tap other Townies to share their personal experiences living, working, playing in and around Winston-Salem, North Carolina through their own words and snapshots.
Take it away, Jacinta…
Truth is, I didn’t plan to move to Winston-Salem to create a “creative life.”
Kernersville called me from Atlanta more than 10 years ago, where I started The Word Project, for the solace and creativity I felt I needed to nurture. I wanted to be somewhere where I could walk and get the mail, barefoot.
I found my work as a poetry facilitator and writer a little lonely, however. I needed the time and space away from a large city, like Atlanta, but I also wanted to deeply engage with others outside of the groups that invited me to do the difficult work of healing.
I longed for community.
That desire for greater collaboration and community lead me to apply for a part-time job in Winston-Salem. When I was offered to join the small staff of Leadership Winston-Salem as its first program director (the former Executive Director had managed the flagship program previously) my work there opened my eyes, like any newcomer, to the richness of the City. I felt a passion for community I hadn’t known before. A sense of connection and belonging. Four years later, I moved to downtown Winston-Salem.
Though I did not grow up here, I have family connections here. My grandfather, before going into the ministry, worked for a RJ Reynolds plant. My Dad went to Carver High School. That didn’t make me want to move to Winston-Salem (I actually didn’t know the family history until recently) but it helps me to, perhaps, understand this undeniable love and connection I have to this place.
But what was it in particular that draws me to Winston-Salem and helps me on my daily creative journey? Here is my Top 5 Loves list that I find unique to Winston-Salem…
Who would a woman be without her dynamic friendships? I am blessed to have nurturing family close by. The bonus is my friendships – each person having their own connection and contribution to the City – that keep me grounded as well as soaring. There are strong relational ties in this relatively small city. Getting to genuinely know others and their contributions to making this a place for everyone is one of my greatest joys living in Winston-Salem.
- Coffee Shops
As a poet and editor, I’m always looking for quite corners that offer different perspectives. For me, this includes coffee shops, and Winston-Salem isn’t lacking in that offering. I have my favorite drinks at each one; I know which seats are closest to the outlets, and the best time to go. On a sunny day, I’m able to walk to a few from my home, adding to the creative stimuli.
Whether it’s an opening event at SECCA or an exhibition at Delta Arts Center, not to mention the eclectic galleries downtown, inspiration is at my fingertips. There’s the culinary scene, too, and the community of supportive artists that is invaluable. You don’t have to deal with the big city traffic and yet take advantage of quality arts.
Yes, the store on Burke Street. It’s my secret hideaway (so don’t tell anyone). The colors, fabric and furniture provide a different view for me when my week may be buried in drab colors. I place myself in a scene and time period and create stories in my mind as I walk through this beauty. And maybe, on a day I can splurging a little, I buy a book there :).
Whenever I feel a little lost with a project or direction, I drive to Old Salem. Maybe I walk around with my camera or maybe I sit in my car and watch tourists walk by. It doesn’t matter. Each time I go I reemerge feeling I’ve been transported to place of solace that provides clarity. It’s like going to a spa for your mind.
Art and creativity serve as a bridge in connecting others. When I lead a workshop or training, it begins and ends with connecting… My work as the founder and co-editor of Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing is mostly about connecting. Connecting writers to an audience, connecting writers to each other, connection readers to the healing power of writing. And though this journal touches those across the globe, the magic happens right here in Winston-Salem. These Top 5 are about connecting…
The creative life (any life, really) is about connecting, too. And it’s a journey. We don’t always know where we are going or how we are going to get there, who will travel with us or when we need to travel alone. We’re connecting the dots. It’s a process and in that process we uncover more of who we are and what our gifts are to this world.
I didn’t plan, as a child growing up in Charlotte and then Detroit, to move to Winston-Salem, but I’m glad that’s how it happened. The truest essence of creativity comes out of unplanned events. I’m learning to trust and embrace the journey more each day and see the beauty in each unfolding step. I’m thankful to have this season in Winston-Salem, nurturing my whole creative self.
~ Jacinta V. White