I have a confession to make, when I moved from a bustling, cultural city like Washington, D.C. to a small college city, Greenville in eastern North Carolina, I was convinced I’d leave after my four years at ECU.
I’m a former Army brat and I was used to moving and I love being around international people and the traps of big city life. But something interesting happened, I grew to like Greenville and even more so I grew to LOVE the community and friends I made here. I swore up and down to my friends that I was leaving after graduation and moving overseas for a residency or something. However, my story turned right around when I met my husband during my last year in school. In addition to meeting my husband I had a perfect opportunity to move into Art Avenue in 2013 with several other friends and classmates from ECU.
Within the span of ten years of living in Greenville and now Farmville, my love for Greenville and for Eastern Carolina to has grown so much. Because as I said moving around so much, I found that when I settled here I realized that I was actually longing to grow roots and stay put for awhile.
So with that said, I felt I had to share some of the reasons why I love Greenville, (I won’t lie that I do miss the big city immensely tho).
The Art Community - It should be no surprise that it’s the major reason I love Gvegas (how’d we get that nickname btw?). We’re a tight knit community. On any given day, you can find my dear friend Sim Asher (photographer, teacher & more) or Jonathan Bowling (sculptor) sharing their artwork or beginning new projects around town or Holly Garriott of the Pitt County Arts Council at Emerge organizing another successful community arts project like the Vincent Li mural at the corner of Evans and 5th street in Uptown Greenville. There is just SO much talent in Greenville. My dear friend Kelly Boutilier opened up Moxie Pop, a gallery and pop up shop location specifically to highlight and expose the rich community of artists, musicians and creatives. There is NO shortage of amazing creative talent in Greenville and Pitt County itself.
The Tar River & Town Commons - There is always some kind of fun & FREE event going on at the Greenville ampitheater, we love going to the Sundays on the Park events with free live music and food trucks. Or we take Tallulah to the childrens playground & park. The Tar river runs through Greenville and Pitt County and there are tons of treasures to be found, shark teeth, fishing and a gorgeous walk way. Again, Kelly Boutilier also teaches yoga on paddle boards on the Tar River - oh and btw Kelly also helps run Starlight Cafe as well!
Christy’s Europup - Okay I know it’s a bit of an odd thing to put a pub on this list however there are SO many special memories I have of ‘Crusty’s’ as my friend affectionately calls our local pub. The food is always good, the people are the BEST and the atmosphere is like Cheers, seriously, people know and remember name there! And it is the place I met my husband. They also have live music and open mic night.
Starlight Cafe - Ha! Can you tell I love food & drinking? More beautiful and fond memories made at my favorite restaurant. Just like Christy’s, when I walk into Starlight it’s like a second home, they know my name and my favorite drink. AND it’s where my husband and I got married so there’s that major reason. But if you’re looking for gourmet cuisine and fine dining this is where you want to go.
School of Art & Design at ECU - I mean this is the main reason I came to Greenville to get a degree in jewelry and metal design. The art school has serious talent and though the art building itself is crumbling a bit, the professors & programs they offer are stellar. If you’re an art student looking to learn from world renowned artists and professors then East Carolina University SOAD is where you want to go. The jewelry & metals department has the best professors, when I came I knew that I would get instruction from a wide range of talent and knowledge.
The People - I’d say that I have a pretty good understanding of people & places considering I’ve lived in 3 continents and traveled through North & South America, and overall I’ve felt so welcomed and humbled by the generous people I’ve met here. Here’s an example of how generous people are here, when our current President came for one of his ‘rallies’, my favorite breakfast spot The Scullery made national news when they donated a days worth of income (over $5K) to an immigration nonprofit. And an op-ed was published in our newspaper condemning the xenophobic statements made at the rally, stating that Greenville is a diverse and welcoming city. Another example, I was at the Umbrella Market and a friend of mine just met newcomers to Greenville and she introduced me to them so that we could take about the art scene. Hows that for a welcome mat?
First Friday ArtWalk - I think this is probably one of my absolute favorite traditions of the month and Uptown Greenville. Back when I had a studio at Art Avenue, we held all sorts of events that landed on the art walk evenings. We held music shows, exhibitions, fashion shows, poetry slam and more. This is where small town culture & art have a major impact on business and exposure. You really get a sense of what Greenville is all about when you walk through town on First Fridays and absorb incredible art and talent.
Proximity - Think about it, you’re roughly 2 hours away from amazing beaches, OBX, Atlantic beach and so on. You’re also about an hours drive from other beautiful towns and cities like Wilson, Farmville, Kinston, Belhaven and Bath - all perfect getaways for the weekend. I never would’ve known about these fun adventures had I not lived in Greenville.
Dickinson Avenue - If anything has truly evolved and changed it’s this street that used to be super sketchy and mainly the only reason to go was Jonathon Bowling’s epic parties. Now you can choose from a handful of delicious restaurants, throw axes, visit several breweries, shop and pop into an art studio, The Art Lab.
The Wildlife and animals - So this last one isn’t specific to just Greenville, it’s more of Eastern North Carolina. Until I moved to Greenville, I had never shot a gun, tasted deer meat, let alone seen a wild bear. I made friends that went hunting, lived on farm land and had that experience of being out in the wild. Now I’m so much more familiar and I love being that close to nature. My jewelry is made by all of the beautiful animals of eastern North Carolina, the barn owl, bear claw, deer antler, sea shells, and so much more.
Living in Greenville and traveling and visiting the places of Eastern North Carolina has broadened my concept of community, it has opened my eyes to so much more than the usual offerings of a city. I tell many of my friends back in the DC metro area that it would’ve been so much harder to get my jewelry company off the ground in a bigger city but in Greenville, I was able to grow and expand my business.
Also the cost of living in a smaller city is so much more manageable. You can eat out more, spend your money on local art & culture, and maintain a art studio outside of the home.
I hope this gives you more reasons to visit and stay in Greenville. If you want more of this kind of knowledge and tips on everyday living, sign up for my email list below. Thanks as always for reading friends!