Monday, June 18, 2007

Life is Good in Greenville

I live in one of the world's great cities. No, it's not New York, San Francisco, Paris, Prague, or London. It's little ol' Greenville, South Carolina--and any day of the week, you'll find visitors wandering our downtown with a smile on their face as they experience Southern hospitality with a side of topnotch urban planning.

Greenville's not big--yet--and most of us hope it doesn't get too much bigger. But after they've been down here on the farm, it's gonna be hard to keep those cityfolk back on the boulevards. How many midsize cities sport a waterfall smack in the center of town--complete with wide, flat rocks for the kiddies (and their parents!) to romp on? How many midsize cities have a baseball stadium, entertainment arena, world class performing arts center, four theatre companies, a public and private fine arts high school, science center, superlative symphony, and two internationally renowned art collections all within a few blocks of each other? And they're all staffed by people who say "Yes, ma'am" and "No, sir" and "Y'all come back soon!" (Okay, I haven't heard Greenville Symphony director Edvard Tchivzhel say those exact words, but Edvard's charm transcends words anyway, so the point's the same.)

I'm not a native, sadly. But Greenville's been my home for twelve years, and that's the longest I've lived anywhere except the little Florida town I grew up in, so I claim it as home. My oldest son (23) thinks it's deadly dull and, compared to L.A., I suppose it is. But my youngest son (16) thinks Greenville rocks. Its labyrinth of downtown nooks and crannies, funky tea and coffee bars, and eclectic array of streetside musicians provide plenty of diversion for teens in search of quirky things to do. Parents love Greenville because it's child-friendly; women love Greenville because it's safe. It's arts-friendly (my favorite event is the immensely enjoyable Open Studios Tour), pet-friendly (we have a dog park!), and climate-friendly (four distinct seasons, and just enough snow to be fun). Employment is high, crime is low, and the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains loom just far enough up the road to provide a perfect backdrop to our northern horizon.

Come on up/down/over and pay us a visit! But be forewarned: you might not want to leave!