Thursday, April 8, 2010

Greenville and Google

When I started mulling over possibilities for the letter "G" in Arlee Bird's A to Z blog challenge, the first thing to come to mind was the only thing I want to blog about today.

I love my town.

I mean, I seriously love my town - if Greenville was a woman instead of a city, I'd probably marry her. And I can say this after traveling around and living in other cities, larger and supposedly better cities. I lived in Indianapolis for four years, but I just couldn't stay. I had to come back to my home.

Greenville is an oasis of culture and industry, a sparkling jewel nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Here, art and technology happily cohabitate; on any given night you're likely to find a networking party sometwhere downtown filled with equal amounts of techie geeks and artistic freaks. It doesn't matter here what your specialty is, as long as you're passionate about it. I live in a city filled with people who firmly believe in the beauty of their dreams, and those people strive to help each other achieve success in their chosen fields.

A perfect example of this thriving community coming together to work towards a common goal is Google on Main. Several weeks ago, Google announced their plans to bring Google Fiber to one lucky town in America. Google Fiber is a new, super-fast internet which Google is now beta testing. It's supposed to be up to 100 times faster than broadband internet. Google offered its new service to the community who could stand up and show they wanted it the most - by getting as many people involved as they could, including city and state officials as well as individuals from the general public.

Greenville responded by organizing Google on Main, an event which drew over 2000 people to Falls Park downtown. The crowd was given eco-friendly LED color-change glow sticks, and once twilight fell, we organized ourselves into the letters of the Google logo, creating the world's first and largest people-powered Google chain! (The photo above is an aerial view of our accomplishment. You can click on the picture to get a larger view.) This was an amazing feat considering it was organized in less than two weeks, and the heads of dozens of companies, several city and state officials, and even a senator got involved.

I volunteered at the event with my friend and fellow writer Leigh Green, and the powers that be decided I would be responsible for handing out the majority of the glow sticks. I had a blast helping out. Everyone at the event was happy to be there, and showing them how the LED color-change glow sticks worked was a lot of fun. It felt as if I was handing out happiness! Everyone walked away from me with a smile on their face.

Being in the diverse crowd of techies, geeks, artists, moms, dads, businessmen (and women), teenagers, grandparents, and every other flavor of person you could think of really made me proud of my community and what we can accomplish together when we put our minds to it. Google hasn't made any decisions on where Google Fiber is going first, but Greenville's been noticed by the big guys - we even had Google representatives downtown during the organizing of Google on Main!

Greenville is responsible for making me the writer I am today. I wouldn't be who I am without the town I grew up in. It's influenced my career as an artist in so many ways, and I'm so proud to be able to give back to the community in any way I can. I'm sure I'll be posting more about my city in the future.

What do you love about your town? What makes you proud to live where you do?

If you'd like to give Greenville, SC a hand in winning a Google Fiber poll, click here and cast a vote!


Jessica Bell said...

Wow, b, what a cool idea. I love how you associated this with loving your town and wanting to give back what it has given you. Beautiful.

Well, I have lots of towns. I grew up in a suburb called Heidelberg, in Melbourne, Aust. But spent half my childhood on a Greek Island too. Then we moved to another suburb in Melb, and now I live in Athens, Greece, so hmmm ... let's see.

Well, I'm proud of Greece in general because of the amazing ancient culture maintained and surrounding the city. But certainly furious at them too for letting the economy turn to shit - and now I'm scared to be living here.

I'm proud of Australia for being such a multicultural society - accepting - friendly. But furious about how its colonies began. It was bombarded by the British in late 1700s - followed by aboriginal genocide. And it took the government until 2008 to officially 'apologise' for the act.

So, not as proud as you, but I do have fond memories :)

Arlee Bird said...

Greenville in a nice part of the country. I played there in 1966 at a shrine circus that I believe was at a baseball field -- is there like a minor league team there?
What you say here reminds me of what my creative writing professor at the Univ. of TN Knoxville in the early 1970s used to say. He'd say, "Everybody's from somewhere" meaning no matter how many places you may have lived you have roots in a place that has influenced you most.
Where I live now is nice, but nothing like home. I consider my place of greatest influence to be Maryville, TN, also in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Nice post.
Blogging From A to Z April Challenge


It sounds a wonderful place to live, I live on the south coast of England, a place called Bournemouth, the area where I live is 2 mins from the sea which I love also the son of poet Percy Byshee Shelly also called Percy 200 years ago bought a manor just along the road where he used to entertain the likes of Lord Byron and Robert Louis Stevenson, his mother was Mary Shelly who wrote Frankinstien. so a great hisstoric area. My other favourite place is Benalmadena Spain where I lived for 3 years. it is a lovely place with surrounding mountains and of course beautiful beaches.

Have a nice day.

Charmaine Clancy said...

I live in a small country town in Australia, called Yass. I LOVE that I live in the country! I grew up in Sydney and never imagined that I would ever live in the country. My first week here I got baaa'ed at by a sheep in the back of a car! Mostly I just love saying 'I live in the country!' it's my most popular status update :-)

Anne Gallagher said...

I grew up on the beach in Tiverton Rhode Island and I would go back there in a heart beat if I could.

Unfortunately I now live in Winston-Salem NC and I hate it. There's no beach.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I grew up in Salem OR and currently live in small town in NC - neither thrills me though!
Greenville does have its fascinations. I'd visited Greenville several times before selecting it as the base and starting point for my series. It's central to many locations, which provided opportunities for the characters to go off on short (or long) adventures.

Rae said...

Great article for a travel magazine or a Greenville visitors booklet! Sounds like a wonderful place to make home!

Sugar said...

That sounds amazing. What a treasure. I love my town, we are somewhat new to it, only lived there two years, but it is a small, homeytype feel of a place. Walking down main street give a feel of well..home. Everyone grew up together, the schools are awesome..I love my lil town!

Tara said...

I grew up in Boca Raton, FL, and now live in a small town in NC. I love it here. Talk about a huge difference!

I've known a few people from Greenville and all have praised it.

Kierah Jane Reilly said...

Funny, I have a friend who lives in Greenville, and went to grad school in Indiana. He loves it in Greenville - sounds like a fascinating place to live!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Since I grew up in Anderson, I'll definitely join you in your tribute to Greenville! Nice weather, great people, good arts district, pretty town.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've lived in so many cities, I never developed many attachments I'm afraid.

Helen Ginger said...

Greenville sounds like a great place to live.

I love Austin because it's friendly, with lots going on every day of the week; it treasures its natural resources and its weirdness, and welcomes everyone.

Straight From Hel

Hannah said...

I love everything about my town. Except maybe the fact that liquor stores are closed on Sundays. Everyone here reads a lot and is very health conscious, which is why it's one of the healthiest states in the US. It's bicycle friendly and I'm a bicyclist.

I even like the extreme weather highs and lows. (don't tell anyone else that)

I was born and raised here and if I were to ever move, I think I would move out of the country.

Great use of the G. Your hometown seems like a place I would love to visit!!

Talli Roland said...

What a great ode to Greenville, and how cool is all that Google stuff?

I love London for its vibrancy, multiculturalism and its art scene which always pushes the boundaries!

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, what a nice tribute! Ann Arbor is also trying to win that fiber dealy-bob (you can see I know a lot about it *snort*).

It rings true though, that connection to our roots inspire our writing and what we want to make of ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Great post - I really feel like I have an idea of what it's like to live in Greenville now! (though I'm ashamed to say it really wasn't a city that had registered on my mental radar before...)

@ Yvonne - you've got a real surfeit of history, you Dorset types! :) Don't suppose you could see your way to punting some over to Southampton? :)

Lisa said...

I hope Greenville gets it -- you all sound very deserving to me!

How awesome it is to feel that way about where you live. I love my town Cedar Hill just because it feels so comfortable to me. I'm not involved in any community activities (shame on me!), but really just love the feel of the place.

Great post for the letter of the day!

Raquel Byrnes said...

I love that line about how you'd marry your town if it was a woman. So wonderful that you are happy. Great post.

Lola Sharp said...

I have no fondness the town I'm living in right now, nor the state. But I love our home. We had it built, it's gorgeous, on over an acre, and filled with love.
That said, I can't wait to sell it and move back to the coastal south. We're here for 3 more years for husbands job.

I can't wait to feel like you do again.

ggray said...

I'm so glad you wrote about this. While Hampton Village, NH is my favorite town, and New Orleans my second, I have to say Greenville is a trip to live in. I have a love/hate relationship with the place depending on what part of town I'm in. My favorite area is my street and second is the Pendleton Street Arts District. Falls Park set in the midst of downtown is gorgeous and Main Street is a head-turner as it goes through many changes. But I have to say, the Google event was more than I ever thought I'd see in Greenville - so cudos to you and all the other geeks who worked so hard to pull it together in a brief time.

Anonymous said...

I live in a small country town called Oxford in New Zealand. I love being close to the mountains and rivers and having land around me.

Creative Chronicler said...

Your town sounds fabulous. Mine has lots of great little places but I would love to be closer to the mountain

Mason Canyon said...

What a great idea to get Google's attention. The fact that the event came together in 2 weeks with all those people involved says a lot for your town. Hope your town is selected.

Ella said...

I'm a military spouse, a transplant; My first roots were in Maine. I have lived in Alaska, Hawaii, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina.
I would love to visit South Carolina; Greenville sounds amazing. I have felt the biggest
sense of community in Adak, Alaska and Maine.
How exciting that Google reps are checking your town out; It does say volumes about your community, when you can gather that kind of response in two weeks! I'll cast a vote for your town, then I'm moving there ;-D

Anonymous said...

I've had the awesome pleasure of seeing the Smokey Mountains while driving from Michigan to Florida for a family vacation. We stopped to smell the flowers and admire the spectacular scenery. I hope to make it back someday. I also want to hike the Appalachian Trail.

Stephen Tremp

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Thank you for becoming a Kindred Spirit {what I call Followers.} I posted a link to your blog from mine. I have a more sardonic view of the city in which I live. Have a happier tomorrow, Roland

Elana Johnson said...

Wow, this is fabulous. I can feel the love in your words, and that's always a good thing.

I love my town because it feels like a small town, but it's in a bigger metropolis. :)