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Hometown Secret

Dorothy got it right. You don't have to look any farther than your own backyard.By Catherine McCall

Wilmington NC – [Click the Listen button to hear Catherine's commentary.]

Where in Southeastern North Carolina can you hear a jazz trumpeter, listen to an esteemed former U.S. Senator, learn the skinny on the ?First Black Marines? and catch the glove-smacking excitement of a fast pitch softball game? Or maybe your bent is listening to the thoughts of a Microsoft executive or checking out the life of Eleanor Roosevelt as performed on stage. Maybe you?re a poet in search of a slam or a movie buff in love with the fresh angles of little independent films. Maybe you want to learn more about the Afro-Brazilian condition, or want to watch a water skiing tournament, or for that matter, a triathlon.

In the span of a few weeks, in some cases a few days, all of these events and a whole bunch more are occurring right here in our town?at one central location (except for the water skiing.)

My point?

One of the crown jewels of our semi-resort, semi-rural, sprawling little city is the University that sits smack dab in the middle of town.

I?ve been as guilty at times as the next transplant when it comes to lamenting the availability of interesting things to do in our town. I?ve griped and complained about there not being as many diverse opportunities as there are say in Seattle or Atlanta, or in other cities farther up the east coast. Of course, there aren?t as many people here either. When I?ve been in my grumbling mood I?ve had my eyes mostly closed and the loss and the mistakes have been solely mine.

The truth is there?s plenty going on in this little town, and a good chunk of the intellectual and cultural breath has to do with the home of the Seahawks. If you haven?t noticed, that is a campus where things are really starting to hum. Dr. Leutze ably helped the school build its launch pad. Now, all indications are that Chancellor DePaulo is poised to take our cool local school into spectacular flight.

From what I?ve gleaned from the papers and the buzz on campus, from faculty and students alike, it?s a place where standards and expectations are rising, where commitment and morale are expanding, where major value is being placed on diversity, intellectual curiosity and community partnership.

That?s where you and I come in, and frankly, that?s where we become some of the biggest winners in this phase of the school and the town?s evolution. A few seconds spent on the website?www.uncwil.edu?delivers a plethora of events and opportunities, most of which are open to the public and most of which are affordable or actually free.

There are any number of ways to tap into this burgeoning Seahawk energy. Just last weekend I was biking through campus, past a slew of ultimate frisbee players and track and field teams. I whizzed past signs directing young Science Olympians to this building and that one. That evening I attended an incredibly funny lecture on campus given by nationally known comedian, Kate Clinton, for free.

I?m telling you, if you don?t know what?s happening at UNCW, then you are missing one of this city?s golden treasures. From what I can gather, Dr. DePaulo is all about creating a culture of curiosity and creativity, one that invites thoughtful debate and exchange, both at the school and in conjunction with the community. In other words, she?s flinging the doors to the Seahawk rocket wide open and inviting each of us to come aboard and take part in what looks to be an exciting and enlightening journey.

What are you waiting for?

Catherine McCall is a psychiatrist who lives in Wilmington.