Editor’s Note: The Strong America Tour is in full-swing. One of our goals for the tour is to highlight what’s happening on the ground in the communities we visit. Today, we’re excited to publish this reflection from Amanda Preston, which describes a walk down Main Street in Davidson, North Carolina, a town Strong Towns president Chuck Marohn visited last week. Longtime readers of Strong Towns will see illustrated in Davidson some of the reasons we advocate for strong, walkable downtowns: they are good for the economy, increase social connectivity, and just generally make a community more livable and more lovable. How would a walk down your town’s main street be described?
Flanked by picturesque shop fronts, the village green, a library, a post office, churches, historic homes, a college, and numerous local restaurants, Norman Rockwell could not have imagined a more charming small-town street than Main Street in Davidson, North Carolina. The first time I saw it, I didn’t quite believe it was real. Much more than an assemblage of brick sidewalks and historic architecture, Main Street is the result of an active and forward-thinking community, and is the nexus that binds that same community together.
Walking down Main Street, I always need to budget at least fifteen minutes more than I think I’ll need to do anything. When I run into the post office to grab my mail from my P.O. box, I see a former colleague and stop to chat. Davidson doesn’t have any drive-thrus, so when I need to stop by the bank or pick up a prescription on foot, I see that really nice lady that sits in front of me at church and ask how her week has been. I walk past the local coffee shop and my neighbor is sitting out front reading a book with her cute dog, Franklin; she offers me a wave and a smile, and Franklin gives me a sniff and a tail wag. If I stop to think about it, I realize those fifteen minutes are pretty much the best fifteen minutes of my day.
That is, until I stop for lunch. Davidson’s weekly Farmers Market happens year-round, and many of the local restaurants shop there and purchase from the local farmers at this popular spot. I recently learned that the restaurants often give their food scraps back to the farms for feed and composting! It’s a super cool fact I can’t wait to share with my lunch date.
The local, fresh ingredients make my lunch so tasty — today, I dine with my friend al fresco on the patio. I have a view of public art to the right and, on the left, a view of kids playing on the village green in front of the public library. A little boy walks by with a tiny violin case and I hear him tell his mom that he learned to play something new in his lesson down the block and that he had fun. My heart melts, just like the ice in my sweet tea. Time to go!
I meet three more people on the sidewalk as I head back to the bike rack where I secured my preferred mode of transport. I cycle home on the greenway with a smile on my face, just as I do after each time I come to Main Street. That’s because this place facilitates community. It makes me feel like I’m a part of something.
Main Street supports thriving independent businesses, retailers, and restaurants, serves as a home to several civic buildings, and acts as a hub for community events that bring people together. The residents of Davidson can’t help but feel energized each day when they walk down their Main Street and see how the space encourages their community to come together and come alive.
Top photo via Amanda Preston.
About the Author
Amanda Preston is the Communications Director for the Town of Davidson.
A Davidson College graduate, Amanda has lived and worked in Davidson, NC for the last eight years and has loved every minute of it.