Thursday, July 28, 2016

This is Where You Belong - by Melody Warnick

This title piqued my interest because I have steadily lost love for my current town over the past decade. When we first bought our house in 2002 I told my husband that I felt like we lived in a poem. We could both walk to work and to the center of town; had a big backyard; and could hear the train whistle, the church bells, and the chimes from the college. A few years later a loudspeaker system was put in at the sports field across the street and things became a lot less charming. Social media also had a role. I had to get off both the town groups I was on because I found the complaining and negativity to be too much of a downer. Last year we bought a weekend getaway in another town where we retreat to be away from the sports noise in the fall. It is easy to love a second home. There are no work, church, PTA, or other committee obligations there, and in our case it is also near a beach. Learning to love my primary home again, where I do spend most of my time is something I'd been wondering how to do. Warnick, who has made several interstate moves, always looking for the greener grass, sets out to learn to love Blacksburg, Virginia. There were some suggestions in this book that I wish I could do more of here - one was to buy local. For a college town Bridgewater really is lacking in funky, independent shops. Warnick mentions specifically a gift shop where she takes her daughters to buy presents. I remember when we first moved here there was an  independent educational toy shop nearby. Whenever my daughter was invited to a birthday party we would walk over an pick out a puzzle or kit. It has since closed, replaced by a Walgreen's (which I have never been in). The author also mentions an independent bookstore and explains how more dollars are put back into the local economy when one shops local, and then confesses that sometimes rather than buying books at the local bookstore she "made mental notes of titles to check out later from the library". She is a bit ashamed of this, but I see no reason why she should be. The public library is a resource to be used by the community. Getting a book there that you are only going to read once is a good way to be sustainable.

Warnick has a few other things to say about libraries. She does appreciate them and one day while performing random acts of kindness she brings donuts to the thrilled librarians at her public library. She also takes a civics education class at the public library in order to learn more about her town and how to get involved in it. And some years before she began her quest to love Blackburg she was a member of the Ames, Iowa library board. She laments about leaving that city. "As a board member I was a necessary, voting part of the organization and by extension, the city. I mattered, and feeling like you matter makes you feel like you belong. No wonder Ames was the town I left most regretfully." She also suggests reading about your town's history at the local public library, and gives a shout out to one of my favorite things: The Little Free Library

Reading this book does have me thinking about what I can do for my town, and make an effort to appreciate what is here. I will start tonight and attend a free concert at our town's new outdoor music venue: Music Alley. 

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