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Brooke Edge

daily drink specials, anyone?

Weird Charlotte: Are you originally from Charlotte, or did you come here from somewhere else? If you came here from somewhere else, where was that, when did you land here, and why?

Brooke: I'm from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I moved to this area to attend college in 1998, graduated in 2002, and then have continued getting job offers in and around Charlotte, keeping me here on a path easier than taking a risk and job-searching elsewhere. That, and a wonderful relationship.

WC: Of all you've contributed to the cultural fabric of Charlotte, what are some of your personal favorites?

Brooke: Basically I just value being part of the community while I'm here – volunteering for organizations I believe in (MAP, Planned Parenthood, etc.); shopping, eating and drinking at locally owned establishments, and contributing to the Charlotte dialogue in general. I'm looking forward to seeing where the City Committee takes their efforts. Writing for local papers (Creative Loafing and the Lake Norman Times among them) has been an opportunity that I've tried to use to the best of my advantage to get the word out to other Charlotteans about the best sides of this city.

WC: What strengthens your dedication to do what you do, in spite of the fact that Charlotte has not yet developed a critical mass of creatively-attuned people?

Brooke: It can be frustrating as hell, looking around here sometimes (my husband and I call the depression that sets in "Charlotte-itis"). The thought that gets me positive and motivated again is pretty simple - you're here for right now, you don't like what you see, so why wallow? Use what you can offer to help make things better, because moping and being pissed off won't help anything, least of all yourself.

WC: What sometimes discourages you about Charlotte and makes you dream of living somewhere else? And where would that somewhere else be?

Brooke: I'm moving to Prague this summer. I've never been there, but right now that's the somewhere else I want to be. Here's what I find discouraging in Charlotte: uniformity (of many different aspects, but most of all attitude), cars, cars all bunched up in traffic jams, the lack of walkable neighborhoods and communities, expensive restaurants and retail, the limited local music scene, poor appreciation for independent and foreign film, arts organizations being supported more by banks than bodies in seats, suburban sprawl epitomized in places like Ballantyne and Birkdale villages, lack of discussion between different segments of the community (and the fact that we have such definite segments), that the city won't let you post notices for concerts and such on telephone poles, expensive flights, and a lot more that will come to mind later, after I've already submitted this questionnaire. I dream of being able to walk all day and find everything I need, from bars and bookstores to markets and other communal gathering spots. Hopefully I'll find that soon.

WC: What would help make Charlotte a more vibrant cultural city?

Brooke: Moving the city to the beach isn't realistic, so never mind. Other than that I'd say more empathy for other people, and more enthusiasm about helping those around you, especially if they don't look/act/think like you. That means being genuinely concerned about the situation in the schools even if you aren't a parent; wanting to help the growing Latino community with its trials, from AIDS education to adult literacy; getting the Uptown crowd to listen to and talk with the "alternative" crowd, and the "alt" crowd to listen and talk back. On a superficial level, I think a website that lists all the daily drink specials in the city would be a fantastic help.

WC: What can we do right now to make Charlotte a more vibrant cultural city?

Brooke: That drink special website mentioned above (hopefully my preoccupation with this doesn't signal some kind of problem for me). Then why not invite people from across the community to come enjoy those drinks as a group, and somehow get them to not sit in little groups in the room, but make them mix it up. Such great leaps in thought and action can come from just talking. One venue - and it's not even a bar - that I think does this well is Pura Vida, especially on its live performance nights. I always meet such intriguing, enthusiastic and vibrant people there and leave feeling optimistic about this city's future.

WC: Let's say there's some creative person out there who's considering moving to Charlotte. If you could say one thing to them, what would it be?

Brooke: Look beyond your first, second and third impressions. Move to a neighborhood where you can walk (by that I do not mean a fake community, like those found in the suburbs), and become a regular at your local establishments. Stay the hell away from Ballantyne and Concord Mills.



Since this interview, Brooke has moved to Prague.