For those of you that read my Patreon post, you know that I started a new job on Wednesday. I am the Marketer-in-Residence at American Underground, a space that I have worked from since 2013. It’s where I got my first marketing job. It’s where the RUNAWAY office was for five years. American Underground is one of my homes away from home. I’ve even slept here.
Now, I will be in charge of giving voice to a community that has uplifted mine over the years.
On my first day in the office, the cork board was still full of material from my predecessors. The quote on the wall that caught my attention reads as follows:
“Travel new spaces with a spirit of energy and explorations.”
In 2018, those new spaces included Amherst College where I taught entrepreneurship and journalism for seven weeks over the summer. When I returned home in August, changes I took for granted were now impossible to miss. Buildings and streets previously under construction were now bustling with activity. Durham had never felt so foreign.
The phrase “New Durham” has been floated as a way to describe a sentiment toward the economic and architectural boom of the last decade. It is not terribly creative but it gets the point across. If we were to revisit pieces I’ve written, that sentiment is well-documented as I’ve tried to wrap my mind around the metamorphosis of my hometown.
The question is, what do we do about it?
Planning for the future is no easy task. It requires discipline and perseverance. It becomes even harder when you’re collaborating with other people and millions, if not billions, of dollars are at stake. That’s the challenge our community faces today.
Saturday was one of those “more common than they should be in January” 60+ degree days in Durham. We took full advantage, exploring the newly-erected parking structures through downtown to reveal undiscovered vantage points.
This week, I’ve been reminiscing about my history at American Underground. My roommate Tommy got me my first job there, an internship with a software company called ShiftZen. I’ve been hanging around downtown since 2011. Eight years isn’t THAT long ago but it’s hard to remember what the scene was like then.
I struggle with how I feel about it. Progress is that a city will change. But did it change for the better? My gut says yes but I’ve benefited tremendously from the progress so I’m not the best avatar. Keeping that perspective is important for all of us as Durham marches forward into the next phase of its renaissance. How can we expand the circle of privilege?