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Old 11-27-2008, 11:05 AM
 
14 posts, read 41,396 times
Reputation: 17

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I'm applying to various graduate schools this fall for an MFA in creative writing. I have spent the last two years living in Austin, TX where I am finishing up my Master's degree in English. Previous to Austin, I lived in Lawrence, KS (BA from the University of Kansas--rockchalk) and proudly hail from Kansas City.

My main concerns have to do with price and culture (both artistic and regional).

As a Midwesterner, I've had a bit of a hard time transitioning to Austin--it seems an odd fusion of Texas "BIG Southern hospitality" and transplant LA glitz. Yes, the music scene is pervasive, but it borders on silly, in my opinion, mostly due to its ridiculous self-consciousness. Many many poseurs littering street corners. :-) Outnumbering the music group are what I would call milktoast white folk, and they fill much of 6th St. every weekend. The Greek community is insane at UT, which has to be the cleanest campus I've seen in my life (read: lacking character). I find myself missing the graffitied urbanness of Kansas City and the quiet hipsters and hippies of Lawrence (music every night but no poseurs).

What is the vibe of Greensboro? What is the "scene" like? How many shows a week could I expect? What about art shows? Are they mostly casual turn your house to a gallery and invite a friend's band shows or more gallery based or a mix? Besides being a writer, I'm interested in fashion (I make and sell new and vintage clothes), am a ceramicist, and a non-militant vegetarian. Are there good organic grocers?
What about diversity? I miss the diversity (and the good food!!!) of Kansas City.

Lastly, price. I live about 20 minutes from the UT campus (very good UT shuttle system allows this), and pay $727 a month for a 1/1 no utils included. This does include pet rent (I have a Fox Terrier). I can afford to stay in that range, although I'd prefer to go lower. For my dog and my sanity, I need about 700 sq.ft. I'd also prefer to live within biking distance to campus.

Oh! I also am curious how open-minded Greensboro is in regards to politics. I am a libertarian, which was well received back in KC/Lawrence, but in Austin gets a shocked "how could you?" reaction.

Thanks so much for your help!
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Old 11-27-2008, 07:19 PM
 
Location: Greensboro, NC
779 posts, read 2,931,514 times
Reputation: 271
Hmm...I don't see much of an art scene here at all in Greensboro yet, to be honest with you. But I really need to get out more. Now that my girl is in preschool, things will be easier I suppose. It would seem that Winston-Salem has more of that. There is a group in Greensboro, called Drink & Draw. Guess what they do? You can find them on Myspace.

Austin is supposed to have more art, and let's not forget if you are that far west, you could take a trip to any part of the Four Corners if you need inspiration: Santa Fe and Albequerque, Boulder CO, Phoenix and Sedona AZ, and of course UT which you seem to have pegged. I like Utah, but I know it's not for everyone. You have to have a general love for the real outdoors and honestly, let the drinking and smoking just not be a part of your life and you will have the time of your LIFE. But, like I said. Greensboro (and the Triad in general) doesn't have that much right now. There are promising areas however. You have here your Tate Street Cafe with local eco beans () and guitar playing. They are awesome of course. I was quite the street urchin back in my day, so I know what you are looking for, but you know, graduate school is really important and you aren't going to have as much time as you think for the art stuff, unless....art is your major and area of expertise.

What I *do* like about Texas and so many people don't know about this: why it was called the Lone Star State. It's the root of their hard-headedness. Apparently there was a period of time around when Jackson was President (I empathize with his life in some ways, but he was a reeeallly bad president).

Settlers of sorts were farming out in the Texas area, which was "disputed" Mexican (and Indian) territory. The president at the time, promised these settlers to annex their land as a state of the then United States of America. Many people went there based on this promise, they wanted land and to be part of the U.S., but Jackson totally dropped the ball. He let the annex just drift - he was busy "moving the Indians" west (he was horrifically callous and tortuous in his method).

And Texas in turn, after having fought very hard with area locals for their settlers' "independence," was left just...hanging... and boy were they pissed about it. So, for a measure of eight years, Texas was an independent country, an independent "state." The Lone Star State. To this day, in Texas, everyone knows about the "my way or the highway" attitude which prevails there. Even in Houston (Herrrro, Nasa) fully stacked gun racks are prominently displayed in the rear windows of pick-up trucks.

Greensboro was named after Nathanael Greene who played a large role in the war for Independence. I believe, if you follow a city or town's history, it will give you an indication of the political vibe of the town. It tends to ring true and kinda stay the same. Larger, upsetting events will change things, but other than that, not so much. Like Martin Luther King, Jr was very, very active in North Carolina. As a result, racism here between blacks and everyone else is pretty minimal, especially for a classic southern state. I think that's awesome. It really turned things around.

But I wish I knew the magic combination of why some cities are just lots more artistic than others. Greensboro isn't short on charm or beauty I think. Ok, it's not Carmel California, but it's no Detroit either. Who knows. *shrug*
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Old 11-29-2008, 03:46 PM
 
29 posts, read 136,575 times
Reputation: 25
I, like yourself, am a fellow libertarian midwesterner with an English degree. My experience here hasn't been quite as positive as many have written about, though I have never been to Texas and therefore wouldn't know how it ranks comparatively. I feel that the area is very close-minded for the most part regarding politics, race, and homosexuality. I imagine it didn't help that during our short time here we experienced the election and saw some of the worst come out in people, including but not limited to emails containing bible versus siting Obama as the devil... I found it hard to find others with similar views and interests here but you would probably have less problem with this as you will be involved in campus life and would be exposed to a more diverse group of people. Unfortunately I can't give much insight beyond that, but I am making a very expensive move back to the midwest to escape so take that for what it's worth : )
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Old 11-30-2008, 01:24 PM
 
109 posts, read 351,379 times
Reputation: 75
I am not sure exactly what vibe you are looking for, but Winston-Salem is know and named the City of the Arts. You might want to check out Wake Forest University and the scene in Winston-Salem. They do have the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the arts district on Trade Street in Downtown Winston-Salem is pretty cool. Greensboro is more of a college, club, party town. They think the have a booming downtown due to a few clubs down there, but when the clubs are closed, downtown is dead. Winston-Salem is a more balanced city than Greensboro; however I like both cities and live in Greensboro.
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Old 12-05-2008, 02:13 PM
 
Location: Guilford Community, Greensboro
71 posts, read 257,532 times
Reputation: 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pipermackie View Post
I'm applying to various graduate schools this fall for an MFA in creative writing. I have spent the last two years living in Austin, TX where I am finishing up my Master's degree in English. Previous to Austin, I lived in Lawrence, KS (BA from the University of Kansas--rockchalk) and proudly hail from Kansas City.

My main concerns have to do with price and culture (both artistic and regional).

As a Midwesterner, I've had a bit of a hard time transitioning to Austin--it seems an odd fusion of Texas "BIG Southern hospitality" and transplant LA glitz. Yes, the music scene is pervasive, but it borders on silly, in my opinion, mostly due to its ridiculous self-consciousness. Many many poseurs littering street corners. :-) Outnumbering the music group are what I would call milktoast white folk, and they fill much of 6th St. every weekend. The Greek community is insane at UT, which has to be the cleanest campus I've seen in my life (read: lacking character). I find myself missing the graffitied urbanness of Kansas City and the quiet hipsters and hippies of Lawrence (music every night but no poseurs).

What is the vibe of Greensboro? What is the "scene" like? How many shows a week could I expect? What about art shows? Are they mostly casual turn your house to a gallery and invite a friend's band shows or more gallery based or a mix? Besides being a writer, I'm interested in fashion (I make and sell new and vintage clothes), am a ceramicist, and a non-militant vegetarian. Are there good organic grocers?
What about diversity? I miss the diversity (and the good food!!!) of Kansas City.

Lastly, price. I live about 20 minutes from the UT campus (very good UT shuttle system allows this), and pay $727 a month for a 1/1 no utils included. This does include pet rent (I have a Fox Terrier). I can afford to stay in that range, although I'd prefer to go lower. For my dog and my sanity, I need about 700 sq.ft. I'd also prefer to live within biking distance to campus.

Oh! I also am curious how open-minded Greensboro is in regards to politics. I am a libertarian, which was well received back in KC/Lawrence, but in Austin gets a shocked "how could you?" reaction.

Thanks so much for your help!
I am a cyclist and I go to UNCG. All along Spring Garden Street (from Holden Road to downtown) there is a bike lane, which is very convenient. Also, we have free public transit rides on both the Greensboro Transit buses and the HEAT buses (intended for college students).

We are no Austin when it comes to arts, but you will discover that we do have an artsy side. On Tate Street, there are a few fine galleries, as well as downtown at the Cultural Arts Center. The coolest art community is the Lyndon Street Artworks New Page 1, which on the first Friday of every month has a really cool open-house.

A half an hour down the road in Winston-Salem, there are also several arts venues.

Also, on Tate Street, there is a nice vintage clothing store called Design Archives. I found a nice Western-style jacket there (haven't put rhinestones on it yet though)

As for organic groceries, there is the Deep Roots Market, a co-op that has most of the things that you need (plus if you take ownership, you get a discount). Also, there is a super-market sized grocery store called EarthFare which is pretty nice as well.

(I am also a vegetarian!... and ex-libertarian... leaning more left these days)

As for politics, as long as you're in the city you will be respected for your politics.

As for gay issues, because of UNCG and other institutions, Greensboro is fairly accepting for a southern city.
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Old 12-06-2008, 04:33 AM
 
18 posts, read 43,574 times
Reputation: 14
I agree with Caodhan's assessment of Greensboro. I think you will find your niche if you decide to move here. You can find housing close to campus that will suit your needs (and pet) and it won't cost you an arm and a leg. The bike lanes around campus are good and well-used. There are plenty of libertarian vegetarians here, and also lots of ceramicists (UNCG has a big Art Department, check them out). People talking about the visual arts scene neglected to tell you about the Weatherspoon Art Museum on campus, right at the corner of Tate and Spring Garden. They have great shows and every semester a visiting artist comes to campus to teach and show their work. UNCG has brand-new buildings for their English Department and for their Art and Architecture Departments. I think you'll like that, too. Tate Street has a really good coffee shop, a funky jewelry store, Indian, Thai, Chinese and Mexican restaurants. Deep Roots Market on Spring Garden Street is a good place to get your groceries. A little further from campus is Earth Fare market (like Whole Foods) on Battleground Avenue. The English Department at UNCG is great -- I was an undergraduate English major there in the 80s, and some of my professors are still teaching there, while others have retired. I wish I could have attended UNCG when Randall Jarrell taught here. He committed suicide on Spring Garden Street, you know, walking out in front of traffic. That was in the 1960s. But I digress.
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:19 AM
 
442 posts, read 1,338,636 times
Reputation: 304
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pipermackie View Post
Yes, the music scene is pervasive, but it borders on silly, in my opinion, mostly due to its ridiculous self-consciousness. Many many poseurs littering street corners. :-) Outnumbering the music group are what I would call milktoast white folk, and they fill much of 6th St. every weekend. The Greek community is insane at UT, which has to be the cleanest campus I've seen in my life (read: lacking character).
: smack:

There isn't an animation of a smiley rolling around, laughing it's head off, so I substituted.
I can't imagine, as a devoted artist of sorts, why you would ever want to move to North Carolina. Sorry, to me NC just doesn't *scream* artistic, free spirit, free love. If you're looking just to move to the general region, I've heard many things about Savannah, GA. They have the Art Institute there and from what I've heard, sounds like it may have the "scene" you're looking for. Otherwise, by the tone of your post, you sound like you'd be suited for a corner of NYC, or some other city that's much more in touch with it's stuffy inner artistic conscious who's intellectual concerns involve that of the persona standing next to them on the street corner. Good luck with your search!


-Your Fellow Artist.
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Old 12-27-2008, 11:23 PM
 
Location: Guilford Community, Greensboro
71 posts, read 257,532 times
Reputation: 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by PrettyMissAshley View Post
: smack:

There isn't an animation of a smiley rolling around, laughing it's head off, so I substituted.
I can't imagine, as a devoted artist of sorts, why you would ever want to move to North Carolina. Sorry, to me NC just doesn't *scream* artistic, free spirit, free love. If you're looking just to move to the general region, I've heard many things about Savannah, GA. They have the Art Institute there and from what I've heard, sounds like it may have the "scene" you're looking for. Otherwise, by the tone of your post, you sound like you'd be suited for a corner of NYC, or some other city that's much more in touch with it's stuffy inner artistic conscious who's intellectual concerns involve that of the persona standing next to them on the street corner. Good luck with your search!


-Your Fellow Artist.
I don't think you've even been to Greensboro.

We aren't as artsy as say, Carrboro, Winston-Salem or Asheville but because of liberal Quaker influences at Guilford, UNCG's Art and Music Depts and measures from private citizens, we are fairly accepting of artists.
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Old 12-29-2008, 02:47 AM
 
147 posts, read 413,794 times
Reputation: 306
First, if you're going to be a writer learn how to spell milquetoast.

Second, Greensboro is not expensive.

Third, Greensboro is DEAD arts-wise. I went to UNCG for a while. My wife got her MFA there. It is a very supportive program that is not too competitive. Some decent writers have come out of there.

The reality is that places where there are many working artists and are culturally vibrant are very expensive because a lot of people want to live there. Places that are affordable usually don't possess these qualities because if they did people would flock there and they would get expensive. See my second point above.

The only reason to live in Greensboro if you value the arts is if you don't have much money and have children. There are cheap houses in nice safe neighborhoods with decent schools.

Otherwise, win a Michener and go to UT or win a Stegner and go to Stanford or get in Iowa or somewhere. If none of these are an option gain a skill that allows you to find employment so you can afford to live in a place like Brooklyn or Echo Park or the Mission area of Sf etc. An mfa in creative writing will not grant you that option unless you are independently wealthy. If you have written everyday for at least a decade do the mfa. If not, beware. But know that cheap and artistically vibrant rarely coexist. And a coffee shop on Tate Street is not an art gallery.
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Old 01-05-2009, 07:43 PM
 
Location: New York City
2,814 posts, read 6,018,532 times
Reputation: 3164
You might like the "scene" in Athens, GA or Bloomington, IN. Not sure how their English departments are, but those towns have the vibe you seek.
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