South Bend. It’s a city most of us love to hate.
Chances are your parents moved here for work long ago and that is how you ended up around the area. Maybe your family has a long line of northern Hoosiers, or quite possibly you ended up here by mistake.
Personally, I’ve struggled with a love-hate relationship with this city for a long time. My friends who’ve left have all let me know about this whole, big, wide world that may as well be constructed out of gold. I go visit, and the streets do seem to be paved in golden bricks in certain cities (some even studded with diamonds).
But having stuck around for most of my life (take away vacations and an eight month stint in a beauty school in Kokomo, which might I add, did not have golden streets), I have a lot of experience loving and hating this city.
At the moment, I’ve come across lots of reasons to love the city, even as I cannot wait for a vacation over the summer to see different sites.
I laughed when the South Bend Tribune ran a story last summer about South Bend’s “hipster appeal.” But now, as much as the term “hipster” might not be the most “hip” way to put it, is it possibly becoming true?
Having moved downtown in the past few months, I’m more aware of what is going downtown and in the local community. It is actually quite impressive.
In moving downtown, I’ve realized there are more people who enjoy an active lifestyle than I realized when I was living in a more suburban part of town. The bike lanes and sidewalks actually have users, and itis now easy to find a bike rack in the city.
Also, an often forgotten opportunity over the summer is the chance to shoot rapids in the East Race waterway, where Olympic trials have been held in the past.
There are lots of local artists to be found during Downtown South Bend’s First Fridays, along with local shows and shops. The State Theater has had so many changes lately it is really set to be going places.
South Bend has even progressed so far as to allow an art gallery that includes a tattoo artist and a body piercer. Bringing a taste of alternative culture to the heart of the city is really telling about the shift in what is socially acceptable in the area.
Local breweries popping up (or growing in popularity), coffee shops having longer hours and hosting more musical guests, and restaurant weeks have brought visitors into the city throughout certain time periods when most people have no other reason to visit.
Do all of these things mean that South Bend now has “hipster appeal?” No, but it sure brings out the younger set and the young at heart.
Around a year ago South Bend was dubbed one of the nation’s “dying cities” by a national magazine. Maybe the pot shot from reality is what the city needed to realize its potential, as the recovery from “The Great Recession” continues.
Rising from the ashes might be a new artistic, aesthetically appreciative community. I guess if we’re all stuck here, we may as well keep our creative juices flowing and make the best of it.