Charlotte, I’m leaving you in a few short days. I know you didn’t see this coming because I didn’t see it coming.
I don’t think our friends or family saw it either.
I don’t feel like you are forcing me to leave, but I also do not feel like I’ve made this choice go.
I have poured my heart, soul and tons of creative energy into establishing a presence in many communities across Charlotte over the past two years.
I have been welcomed in by so many talented and inspiring creative masterminds who are behind some of the weirdest, socially and artistically progressive groups, organizations and events in Charlotte.
There is so much brilliance and excitement in the city’s cultural boom that I’ve witnessed in this city.
My heart explodes as I look back to all of the opportunities I’ve had to insert my ideas and take part in events that have made an impact on the city.
Over the past two years, I have also watched as many of our beloved places eliminated, closed down to make way for more housing.
I have purposely steered clear of the uproar, because I do recognize the necessity of additional housing because our population is increasing so dramatically.
But here I stand, a passionately driven self-starter and hardworking artist. A minimalist who primarily uses her bike for transportation. I am a valued and engaged member of the community on the bottom line, unable to find an affordable, comfortable and convenient place to live.
I refuse to settle
My home is not just a place where I eat, watch Netflix and sleep. As an artist, I need to be able to create a sanctuary that I can unwind, meditate and be able to create my art. I also need to be in a central location because of my bike-centric lifestyle. I do not own a vehicle.
I’ve been displaced and staying in temporary places for nearly two months which I thought would give me plenty of time to find a place to live.
Every place that comes close to fitting my criteria slips right out my hands and gets rented out before I can even schedule a viewing.
When I moved back to Charlotte two years ago, I was renting a studio apartment in Myers Park for $700/month and now they are renting for $850+ per month.
Within a year I was priced right out of the neighborhood I grew to love so much.
I am even willing to bike up to having a 16 mile round trip commute to work or my favorite places in order to find a place I can live and create in. This still hasn’t been sacrifice enough.
Charlotte’s problem with talent retention
This is the scary thing for Charlotte. While it is a bummer that our music venues and neighborhood hangs outs are being eliminated, we are losing our option to live in any of the thriving neighborhoods because cost of living is increasing so much, so quickly.
In August, I attended a talk with a group of panelists who spoke to why Charlotte is a thriving creative hub and what we can do to continue fostering our creative movement. One of the points I recall the most was about the lack of affordable housing and affordable studio space for artists.
Being in the room and listening to the concern I would have never imagined that I would soon fall victim to that very challenging issue.
For a city our size I feel as though this should be an issue of the past, something that we took care of years ago. Yet, here we are.
Searching for opportunity
Fueled by my own openness for opportunity I was forced to look beyond Charlotte to solve my housing dilemma.
I am absolutely heartbroken knowing that following my heart and leaving Charlotte, also means that I am giving up opportunities to continue co-creating what will become of Charlotte’s cultural identity with so many people that are so dear to my heart.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking realization of all is that I no longer believe that my core identity will comfortably align with the Queen City’s core, because even in all of her beauty there are factors outside of our communities that influence the identity of a city.
Cheers, Charlotte. Thank you for making me realize my self-worth, for making me seem like an expert on craft beer when I go to other cities and for connecting me to some of the most creative, open-minded folks I may ever know.