Earlier this week I was privileged to sit in the audience of a panel entitled “The Best City in the World May not Be a City At All” at SXSW V2V. As someone who’s lived in multiple cities and yet hasn’t really found one geographic location I ADORE this as a topic. I believe that the reason I live or stay in a city is due to its people and its opportunities. Apparently I’m not alone in this thinking. But first let me tell you why I feel this way.
Feeling those geographic limitations
I’ve lived three places (so far); Suburban Minnesota, Downtown Chicago, and Downtown Dallas. I knew from a very young age that I was not fit for the suburban culture and probably would never be. (Sorry future kids – you’re not getting a backyard). This has nothing to do with the dislike of mowing lawns or hordes of kids but rather it’s the sounds and energy. When I moved from Chicago to Dallas I moved to the loudest area of town possible. And it was still dead to me. But I got my high off the people and environments I was working around. One of the very first people I met in Dallas shared an energy just like mine. (His name is Trey Bowles in case you’re curious). We both had “get it done now” & “there is always more time in a day” attitudes. I liked that. I soon met a few more people like this who shared the energy and sass I needed to thrive.
However, as I’ve now been a resident for over a year I’m craving a higher high. This has lead me to travel more. In the past month I’ve been in Chicago, Nashville, Miami, Las Vegas. Next month I will travel to Minnesota (Hi parents!) and Chicago. And in the month after, Las Vegas and NYC. The environment and the high I get from Dallas is still there; I’m just going through a “rejuvenate & build bigger” stage. This leads me to work on projects for Dallas which will bring it national attention. (announcing soon….) Because although Dallas to me isn’t SUPER geographically exciting, it’s home (for now) and I want to pump as much energy into it as I can. Which is one of the major reasons I recently took the position as VP of Programming at the Dallas Entrepreneur Center. This position gives me the opportunity to build the culture up, interact with hundreds of people and connect with those, like me, working for the high that cannot be provided by a typical city.
Finding a fit in your city
Now, back to this “the best city may not be a city at all” feeling. To me, and to a huge population of people, we don’t need to be tied down to a specific geographic location; our lives are digital. Our cities, rather, are phones, computers, people, conversations, laughter, music, noises, etc. It’s the components that make up a city or culture, instead, that we are attracted to.
While watching this panel made up of three New Yorkers – Jey Van-Sharp, Helen Todd, and Jim Hopkinson— I felt at home. (no offense Martin Waxman – Toronto just isn’t my jam but holla!) They had the energy and drive I needed. They are my city. New York has the lights and sounds and geographically would work for me yes – BUT it doesn’t have other key components I need in “my city”. That’s why I don’t actually live there, but the people – oh do I love them. I’m sassy, I’m loud and I’m a get it done person – sounds a little like NYC huh?
So the bottom line to this whole rant of an editorial is that your city may not be a city at all. Rather, you should find the items, people, and noises that make you tick – assemble those and call that your city.
If you’re curious, my ideal geographic city combines water with skyscrapers (and a lot of both). What’s yours?