I love Charlotte, but what the Queen City lacks relative to more established cities is a unique identity forged in history and tradition.
While a city’s identity is something that grows organically, I do think there’s opportunity to borrow some ideas from other great US cities. While the other twelve (Vol. 1, Vol.2, Vol.3) ideas are baking away in the industrial oven, I cobbled together four more:
(1) Ban mass-produced domestic beer in the South End.
Charlotte has a booming craft beer scene. But so does Asheville. And Raleigh. And the southeast. And the entire state of Colorado. My point is that while Charlotte’s beer scene seems one-of-a-kind to us, the reality is that on a national scale, we’re just keeping up with the rest of the country (despite what Fortune magazine says). Well nuts to that. I want Charlotte to be number one in the craft beer arms race.
Let’s be so insane about supporting local beer that it’s all we drink. Let’s ban mass-produced domestic beer from shops in the South End. If that’s a little too much government intervention for your tastes, then let’s amend that to say we will “strongly encourage” shops to take a Charlotte-beer-only approach. Businesses that choose to comply with our “Keep South End Local” campaign can show their support with a sticker on their front door or cash register to let you know your beer money isn’t being funneled to a soulless Belgian conglomerate or to some godforsaken frozen corner of Wisconsin.
I love an ice cold Bud Light as much as the next bro, but a Ban on Boring Beer in a brewery-rich neighborhood would go a long way in showing how seriously maniacal Charlotte is about supporting our craft beer scene and setting us apart from the rest of the craft-beer-crazy crowd.
(2) Recycle 100% of Local Beer Cans.
Speaking of craft beer in Charlotte, I love that our breweries have embraced cans as much as they have. Unlike bottles you can take them anywhere, they’re less dangerous when your kid inevitably pulls them out of the fridge, and I think they provide a better canvas for some pretty sweet graphic design. NoDa Brewing was ahead of the game with cans on the market, and Triple C and Birdsong have their own cans out in stores now too.
All this is great, but as mentioned in the idea above, I want to take Charlotte’s beer scene to national heights of uniqueness. So I say let’s bring together local breweries, the Charlotte recycling program, and our craft beer drinking community and set a collective goal to recycle 100% of the cans that house our beloved local brews.
I’m no expert in this area, but there has to be a way that we can create an incentive for local can drinkers to return their cans to the breweries, creating less waste and defraying some of the canning costs for the breweries in the process. Perhaps the incentive could be a small city subsidy that allows breweries to reward a certain number of cans returned with a four-pack or a flight at the brewery where you returned your cans. It works like a charm for Carlsberg brewing in Denmark, so why not here?
(3) Put up a chalkboard to track the top 5 #FoxxTrot record times.
For the uninitiated, the delightfully short run along the Gold Line tracks from the first stop in Uptown at TWC Arena to the final stop in front of Presbyterian Hospital (Novant Health if you moved here after 2014) on Hawthorne was conceived on the Gold Line’s opening day and affectionately dubbed “the FoxxTrot” by the frequently-spectacular @philsanford. The original time to cover the 1.25 miles was 9 minutes, 31 seconds, and since then a few other folks have tried their hand at the run as well.
The proposal has been issued to make this challenge a staple of Uptown Charlotte, and I say we immortalize the leaderboard with a chalkboard underneath the Lynx Blue Line overpass just past the terminus of the tracks. Participants are on their honor to update the board, and times should be immortalized with a screenshot from your preferred exercise app. Here’s my screenshot, which proves that I am slower than @katietoussaint, the originator of the run.
(4) Create an Urban Farm in Marshall Park.
Charlotte is lucky that despite our pleasantly urban Uptown, you can drive 25 minutes in any direction (with the exception of Independence Blvd, which is a graveyard of the failed ideas of 1980s suburbia) and basically be in pastoral farmland. This makes Uptown an urban oasis in a sea of land that can be used to grow crops, and we are lucky to sport a pretty health farm-to-table food scene as a result. However, cities with a broader urban footprint aren’t so lucky, and in recent years have had to get creative in solving the issue with fresh food access with some pretty interesting technology.
While we don’t currently have the need for our agriculture to go vertical, who knows what the future holds, and it’s never a bad idea to maximize the efficiencies of food distribution. So I say, let’s put a vertical Urban Farm tower in Uptown. When I look at the quickly developing area inside 277, Marshall Park sticks out as a good spot for such a thing. It’s already city-owned, nestled away from the foot traffic of The Square, and there seems to be plenty of space to put something like this. Ideally, a vertical farm tower would be an aesthetic positive to the area with spirals of greenery reaching toward the sky, so that should defray any concern about developing existing green space in Uptown. Plus, there’s an unending supply of goose poop in case it turns out that can be used as fertilizer. Anyone else hungry?
What are your half-baked ideas for Charlotte? Share them with us through the links above or on Twitter!
Urban Farm image via World Architecture News.