Friday, December 28, 2007

An upcoming change (but don't stop visiting)

I'm sharing a sneak preview of my column running in this Sunday's paper:

After a year and a half spent meeting newcomers, hearing their stories and writing columns and blog entries to help them make sense of Charlotte, it’s time for me to move on.

After Monday’s column in the Your Week section (and WCNC report), I’ll be returning to the Observer as an editor – a longtime goal of mine. Many of my Observer colleagues will provide thrice-weekly fill-in columns while a full-time newcomer reporter is named – and I look forward to reading their advice on fun things to do, see and know about this region.

Between e-mails, phone calls and the times I’ve gone out and about, I’m guessing I’ve met several thousand newcomers by now. Here are a few things I’ve learned from the experience:

--The best way to get a newcomer talking: Start with food. You can fill them in on the subtleties of Eastern vs. Western barbecue, while they can introduce you to such terms as “white hots” and the kinds of pie that don’t involve fruit.

--A less popular way: Start with church. Seems folks from many other parts of the country aren’t as accustomed to talking publicly about their houses of worship as we are.

--The easiest way to start a spirited blog debate: Raise questions involving ways the South is different from other parts of the country, particularly the North. (The Civil War seems to be alive and well in cyberspace.). Or just use the term “Yankee.”

--Second-easiest: Write about driving habits, and debate which region of the country has better drivers.

--The No. 1 thing newcomers seek: Ways to make friends and connections in this community. Not so different from us longtimers, eh?

--The accents, food preferences, driving styles and cultures may be different, but underneath, we’re all in Charlotte for very similar reasons: We like the city’s beauty, its location between mountains and ocean, its usually balmy weather, its strong economy, its attractions and amenities. And most of all, its people.

Note the new e-mail address we’ll use to keep up with newcomer inquiries: For at least a while longer, I plan to keep chatting with you guys on this blog. I hope you’ll drop in on the discussion from time to time and keep in touch.

And as you begin your New Year, don’t forget to resolve to keep exploring all the wonderful people, places and experiences this region has to offer.

What are some of your other New Year's resolutions? Please post them here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Leigh! I, for one, will definitely miss your posts and the...shall we say "spirited?"...discussions that ensued.

Best wishes!

3:57 PM  
Blogger Alexandrialeigh said...

I don't think it's anyone's business what church I go to (or whether or not I go), so I'm with you on that being a "less popular" way to start a conversation. You might as well ask for my bra size (and you'll receive nearly the same response to either)--both are deeply personal questions, in my opinion, and not ones to be asked by strangers.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do think food is a great starter for newcomers to chat over. If I had to choose a fruitless pie to chat over I would go for pork pie over pot pie. However, I remember being a newcomer and wishing I had that “voucher” invitation to church. In fact, I now attend a church, to which I was invited, by someone who was not afraid to discuss religion.
As a fairly well acclimated Yankee in the south, may I say “Bless your heart” for putting yourself and your experiences out there for newcomers and old timers alike to exchange not only viewpoints but helpful information as well.
To make a short story long, your presence will certainly be missed.
Congratulations on your new position with the Observer

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good riddance..

11:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh LIEGH DOnt forget to take your ROSE colored glasses like everyone in this town wears; And dont let the door hit you in the ......... Just kidding Liegh I think you did the best job Ive seen fr what isnt here yet; SANTA I want a CASINO

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who in their right mind would take NEWCOMER in Charlotte , this town is small with a small mind; What can you say about Charlotte ... you pass through here on th way to Charleston/Hilton Head/Savanah. There are two exits off of I-77 and they all lead to the same gas station.
Look its getting better but it needs something like a smithsonian or madame tusade wax museum or Bush gardens ; Charlotte needs a plantarium where a museum is set up for Plants from the rain forest and other places BY GOD I HAVE it a PLANTARIUM.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good riddance. Enough of the useless boosterism of the Charlotte Chamber oozing from your blogs.

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I encourage all Charlotte residents who despise living in the Queen City, especially the boorish whiners who repeatedly post their tiresome complaints on this blog, to move immediately to a galaxy far, far away.

But I digress. Congrats and best wishes, Leigh. Your affection for Charlotte, your genuine desire to learn from newcomers as you share your knowledge of the city and Meck County with them, and the gracious text and tone that distinguishes your blog make NEW AROUND TOWN one of the most interesting and informative features of the online Charlotte Observer.'s loss is definitely the Charlotte Observer's gain.

11:47 PM  

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