Have you ever moved to a city or town and it didn’t feel like you were at home? Author and Freelance Journalist Melody Warnick had that feeling when she and her family moved to Blacksburg, Virginia. After feeling like she’d made a mistake in moving, she had epiphany after interviewing a lady in West Virginia that has spent all her life in the same place.
“I began to wonder if in all these years of waiting for a town to wallop me over the head with its made-for-me glory, I’d had it all wrong. What if a place becomes the right place only by our choosing to love it?”
After some research, Warnick came up with ten items: walk more, buy local, get to know my neighbors, do fun stuff, explore nature, volunteer, eat local, become more political, create something new, and stay loyal through hard times. She came up with one or two Love Where You Live experiments for each category in order to see if they caused her to feel more at home with Blacksburg.
Those experiments resulted in Warnick writing This is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are.
The following chapters follow Warnick as she performs those experiments. Warnick has an easy going narrative style that allows the reader to follow her as she reports her successes and failures.
What makes Warnick’s book enjoyable is that the experiments can be done in any city or town. While reading the book, I felt compelled to try some of these experiments.
While reading Chapter Eight: Eat Local Food, I made it a habit to be a regular at French Press Coffee Company.
Warnick writes that “falling in love with a restaurant isn’t exactly the same thing as falling in love with your town. But it’s close, both because it presses us into the social web we need to be happy in our towns and because it gives us a concrete surrogate for the town itself. When you fit at the coffee shop or the diner, by extension you fit where you live.”
I chose the French Press simply because I had interviewed the owners, Corey and Hope Celmer, when they were still renovating the place prior to opening and had visited there off and on, but never regularly. While I don’t go there everyday, I do make a habit of going there once a week. There was one time when I arrived, by the time I set my laptop down onto an empty table and got to the counter, the barista (a very nice guy named Keegan) already had my order ready! He said he had prepared it when he saw me enter.
Another chapter titled Get More Political encourages the reader to become more involved in local politics. She writes that “we trust our leaders just enough to stay completely uninvolved until we’re angry about something.”
And she’s right! As a reporter of local government meetings for six years I can testify that you’ll only see the public at meetings if they’re upset with something or if they object to a request. It’s very rare to see people attend a meeting just to attend a meeting. I’ll confess that I never went to a government meeting until I was paid to do so.
All that to say, This is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are, is an interesting read for those that want to feel more at home in the city they live in. Warnick gives a plethora of practices and activities for those that want to love where they live.
If you’re not satisfied with where you’re living, but would like to, then I highly endorse giving Warnick’s book a read. I also encourage you to try some of those challenges in the book.