[Editor’s Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.]
Winston-Salem Monthly celebrates its 150th issue this month, and we decided to celebrate in an unconventional way. Instead of simply celebrating ourselves and the many pages we’ve printed over the years, we opted to celebrate the community as a whole. We know that Winston-Salem is a great place to live, work, play, and retire. But why? We asked, and you answered.
From our friends around the city:
“It’s so easy to feel at home here in Winston-Salem—it’s a city filled with wonderful people and Southern hospitality, rich history, and beautiful scenery, coupled with a vibrant art culture and diverse restaurant scene.
“My husband and I enjoy listening to music at Bailey Park, walking around the neighborhood, and catching one of our amazing sunsets. We also like to explore and learn about our area’s history.
“In my professional life, I draw so much energy from being around people, working alongside innovators, and mentoring and learning from the next generation of medical professionals, many of whom are graduates of the many exceptional colleges and universities in our area.
“As the CEO of the largest employer in the Triad, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many delightful people. I still continue to perform surgeries as a vascular surgeon and really enjoy getting to know my patients, which is why I got into medicine in the first place. Winston-Salem has something for everyone, no matter what they’re interested in or what stage of life they’re in, and I’m proud to call the Twin City home.”
–Dr. Julie Ann Freischlag, CEO, Wake Forest Baptist Health & Dean, Wake Forest School of Medicine
“We love being located in Winston-Salem, the City of Arts and Innovation, because both arts and innovation are vital to our mission. Many people equate technology with innovation, but at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, we know that innovation means not only technological breakthroughs, but also original interpretations, enhanced techniques, emerging platforms, and groundbreaking masterworks. Building on our conservatories’ classical expressions of art and beauty, we are positioning our students to lead the accelerated pace of change in the creative industries and beyond.
“There is no better place to do that than Winston-Salem, the city that founded the nation’s first arts council in 1949, and followed that up in the mid-1960s by raising nearly $1 million in a two-day phone-a-thon to establish the North Carolina School of the Arts; the city where, over the last decade, downtown’s long-abandoned tobacco manufacturing empire has gradually and brilliantly rebranded and transformed itself into a world-renowned innovation district.
“We are proud to be located in a city that defines the powerful synergy between arts and innovation and highlights what makes our community not merely livable, but truly lovable.”
–Lindsay Bierman, Chancellor of UNCSA
“Our philanthropic organization has existed in Winston-Salem for nearly 100 years, and every day our staff is struck by the spirit of generosity that prevails here. This generosity seems to be ingrained in our community’s DNA, as community members so generously share their time, talent, and treasure for the greater good.
“We receive donations from this community at a per capita rate that exceeds that of community foundations in most other metropolitan areas. But the most inspiring aspect of this generosity is the spirit in which it manifests itself. There are so many quiet givers—to religious institutions, human services agencies, education initiatives, to public interest and to the arts—many who choose to remain unheralded. And those who do have their names attached to gifts provide a visible example for others to support our community.
“Philanthropy in our community has made a difference in our schools, our health, our quality of life, and in our capacity for improvement and problem-solving. When support from individuals and companies is pooled together through philanthropy, it moves the community together in a positive direction.
“We’re proud to call this generous community home.”
–The staff of The Winston-Salem Foundation
“I have always been enchanted with Winston-Salem, but now is by far the most exciting time to be part of this vibrant city. While always offering a high quality of life, cultural enrichment, and excellent medical care, Winston-Salem has become more: It has become a destination.
“Our art scene, National Black Theatre Festival, chic restaurants and hotels, universities, innovative downtown, breweries, and historical points of interest draw visitors from the region, nation, and even the world.
“This was most evident to me during a recent trip to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland. Once seated in the tasting room, our guide inquired as to where we were visiting from. Upon hearing Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he delighted in mentioning our reputation for outstanding breweries and shared that he had visited our area on a brewery tour.
“So cheers to Winston-Salem, a great place to visit—an even better place to call home!”
–Lee Garrity, Winston-Salem City Manager
“In 1956, Winston-Salem welcomed Wake Forest to town, showing its character as a community that boldly seeks innovation, heartily invests in ideas, and deeply values collaboration. Because Winston-Salem embraced our university, we have thrived. Our groundbreaking, which President Harry S. Truman attended, brought us national attention that had not been part of our story before our move from Wake Forest, North Carolina.
“Thanks in large part to our Winston-Salem home, Wake Forest is one of the top 30 educational institutions in the nation. And while there are many examples that showcase the strength of the partnership between us, the most recent (and perhaps most exciting yet) is Winston-Salem’s transition from tobacco to technology.
“Wake Forest Innovation Quarter is the result of tremendous teamwork and community dedication. In working together to invest, to adapt and to transform, we are renewing our economic base with a foundation built on health care, medicine, analytics, technology, and education.
“After more than six decades, Winston-Salem and Wake Forest continue to break ground on new ventures that make a difference in the lives of those who live and work in the city we are honored to call home.”
–Nathan O. Hatch, President of Wake Forest University
“Sawtooth loves the city of Winston-Salem because of the vibrant, creative culture of our city. There aren’t many cities of this size with the depth and breadth of cultural opportunities that are available here. And what truly makes Winston-Salem thrive is how the people here embrace creativity by participating in the arts and supporting the arts financially—which shows how they value the role that the arts play in their lives.
“Winston-Salem is home to the first public arts conservatory, founded in 1963, and the first Arts Council (founded in 1949) in the country. We believe that Sawtooth School for Visual Art, which is about to celebrate its 75th anniversary, is one of the key arts institutions that fosters creativity and inspires artists and cultural enthusiasts. We are so appreciative of the opportunity we have every day to share our passion for visual arts through our classes and workshops, summer camps, exhibitions, events, and even our shop featuring works by regional artists. The community’s support of Sawtooth allows us, in turn, to support artists through employment and instructor opportunities and encouraging artist small businesses.”
–Sawtooth School for Visual Art
“When my husband, Steve, and I moved from Boston to Winston-Salem last May, we were delighted to find ourselves living in a thriving city where we were warmly welcomed by the entire community. Winston-Salem’s spirit has energized us, and we are thrilled to be living in a city where education, entrepreneurship, culture, and innovation are so highly valued.
“Some favorite 2018 memories: Greeting our students and faculty at Salem Academy and College; witnessing the incredible power and sisterhood of the Salem College alumnae; enjoying the collaboration between Mandolin Orange and the Winston-Salem Symphony; savoring the performance of “La Boheme” by the Piedmont Opera; participating in our first Moravian Lovefeast; and attending the exhilarating 2018 Salem College Women’s Conference.
“Where else in the world do you have the oldest liberal arts women’s college in the country, a renowned HBCU, a national research institution, a fantastic community college, and a nationally ranked School of the Arts within five miles of each other? Answer: Nowhere else. Winston-Salem students are the beneficiaries of a higher education ecosystem and business community that will prepare them to become extraordinary leaders.
“Our thanks to Winston-Salem for the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful community.”
–Sandra J. Doran, President of Salem Academy and College
“My favorite thing about Winston-Salem is the creativity of those who call it home. More specifically, I am often awestruck by how the creative roots that are part of this community’s DNA continue to inspire such a unique, warm, and welcoming sense of “place” that is steeped in a proud heritage, while simultaneously nurturing the “resilient re-imagination” that makes this such a vital and interesting place to live.”
–E. Merritt Vale, President & CEO of Winston-Salem Symphony
“When it comes to supporting children, there is no place like Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Within just the past year, in ways too many to count, community stakeholders, various corporate foundations, community partners, and individuals have raised more than $7 million to improve, increase, and sustain various initiatives in our schools. That’s tremendous confidence and faith in the educational work this community clearly values.
“The tangible monetary support coupled with the thousands of volunteers that give time in our schools every day shows an unparalleled commitment from this community to our students. That commitment fuels our teachers and school leaders to do their best every day.
“These investments in our children—our future—make an impact that is difficult to measure but easy to see when you walk in any of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. I am so thankful to live and work in a place that doesn’t just talk the talk, but walks the walk and stands behind public education and with our children, thinking of all ways to fuel their success.”
–Beverly R. Emory, Superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
“As a public historian, I think the relationship between Winston-Salem to its past is starkly fresh. The first European colonizers to the area were themselves religious refugees running away from a clear and present danger of the establishment, immigrants seeking peace and safety. Now, here we are, more than 250 years later, and Winston-Salem stands as a political spot of “blue” in a sea of “red.”
“The story of the colonizers, the settling Moravians, the suppressed Cherokee Nation, the enslaved Africans and Black-American individuals, and “outside strangers” combined to create a constellation of complexity and nuance that other parts of the state didn’t experience. It is for this reason that Winston-Salem serves as a unique mirror of history to all of us today, reflecting our past flaws as well as brilliant aspirations. The city’s value can come from re-envisioning itself as a contemporary version of that tiny settlement in 1766 and asking questions in ways that can take new and unseen dimensions. Just like our past, innovation is messy, confusing, and not linear.”
–Frank Vagnone, President of Old Salem Museum & Gardens
“Winston-Salem is a great place to live, work, and play for many reasons, however, the first thing that comes to mind for me is the inherent hospitality of its residents. As a newcomer to the city more than two years ago when I joined the RiverRun International Film Festival, I was very impressed with the welcome I received from neighbors, colleagues, merchants, etc. I was not surprised (since in my film festival work in other parts of the country) I had always heard filmmakers rave about the audiences here and how wonderful they were as both film enthusiasts and genuinely nice people.
“During my time at RiverRun, I have heard many positive comments from our visiting filmmakers and special guests focusing on the hospitality of our audiences and the community members with whom they’ve interacted. I have even witnessed filmmakers tweeting and posting on social media about the friendliness of Winston-Salem while they were waiting at the airport for their flights home. I feel very fortunate to live here and experience every day what visitors experience during their time at our festival.”
–Rob Davis, Executive Director, RiverRun International Film Festival
“Gateway Nature Preserve started as a dream in 2008—to protect and preserve a 19-acre site, crisscrossed by power lines and overgrown with kudzu—that nevertheless provided habitat for hawks and butterflies, red foxes and blue herons, deer and dragonflies. The site was also an ideal place to educate families and the general public about the value of nature in an urban area.
“In our work to make this dream a reality, we have been grateful for how Winston-Salem embraces environmental sustainability. One of the best examples of this is Forsyth Creek Week, which brings together city staff, conservation groups, water-quality specialists, families, and outdoor enthusiasts to celebrate our creeks and water ecology. For Gateway’s Creek Week activities over the years, we have collaborated with community groups as diverse as North State Environmental, Old Salem Museums & Gardens, Forsyth Audubon, Sierra Club Foothills, Piedmont Environmental Alliance, regional floodplain managers, storytellers, and UNCSA faculty. The creative ideas and programs that have come from these collaborations make Gateway stronger.
“Add to this our great public-private partnership with the city’s Recreation & Parks Department—and we feel fortunate to be in a city that supports a dream come true.”
–Cornelia Barr, Board Chair, Gateway Nature Preserve
From our friends on social media:
“The Moravian traditions, which were the foundation for our city, began on November 17, 1753, when 15 Moravian brethren arrived after walking from Pennsylvania. The Moravians, or Unitas Fratrum (United Brethren), were German-speaking Protestants and the FIRST Protestants long before Martin Luther. Among others, Moravians had the first women’s school and were the first to celebrate The Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1783. As a North Carolina Humanities Council Road Scholar speaking on ‘Life as a Moravian in Old Salem: Keeping the Traditions of the Brethren,’ I enjoy sharing our Moravian histories!!! In all things, love.” –Marcia Tabram Philips
“Lots of art and culture in a city that was not too big and not too small. So beautiful in all seasons. I miss it!” –Jennifer Plocher Wilkins
“The original recipe for Krispy Kreme is in a vault there.” –John Cline
“All the local restaurants are AMAZING. Unbelievably delicious food.” –Nicole Gentles
“The special bakeries.” –Sally Miller
“Almost four centuries of diversity within two miles of each other. Old Salem vs. Downtown W-S.” –Richard E. Harper
“What we love most about Winston-Salem? ‘It’s home.’” –Camel City Videography
“Wake Forest. Krispy Kreme. The love of the arts and that beautiful downtown skyline!” –Josh Gerry
“It’s home! Love the history of Old Salem and the arts, wrapped in the beauty of N.C.” –Vikki Caudle Brandstetter
“Seeing the transformation over the past 20 years has been phenomenal. The hard work of a lot of people coming together helped pull this city up by the boot straps to make it more competitive, but also improved the quality of life. We all should be proud. I am!” –Jeffrey L. Smith
“It’s the home of cigarettes, donuts, and underwear! I’m kidding but seriously, the people are generous, the cost of living can’t be beat, nothing is too far, the traffic isn’t bad, there are great bakeries, coffee shops and restaurants, parks & rec, and the new downtown stroll is going to be awesome!” –Julie Galloway Lanford
“W-S meets the needs of a big city but maintains its sense of community. It’s not uncommon to personally know business owners, local musicians, and see many friends and co-workers out and about on any given day.” –Anna Leonard
“I love how W-S rallied back from the tobacco loss to become the innovative city!!" –Debbie Hill
“I lived there three years and many years later I remember it fondly.” –Les Stockwell
“My favorite thing about Winston-Salem is you are always one street away from a new adventure. You can go back in time at Old Salem or you can go downtown for a trendier nightlife. World renowned research labs are only a few streets away from local art galleries and theaters. You can literally do it all in one day.” –Janet McKay Smith
“I love the sense of community in Winston-Salem!” –Suzy Fielders
“For a thriving metropolis of nearly 300,000 people, it is extraordinary that you can travel to any destination within this city and be there in 15 minutes.” –George D. Canavos