Featured post

I’m Being Auctioned Off for a Good Cause

unnamed (1)

Sending in the Pinch Hitter

Thanks to everyone who has been participating in Piedmont Triad Apartment Association’s (my employer) 2019 Summer Food Drive, PTAA has raised more than 415,000 meals for Second Harvest Food Bank, and we’re on track to pass the total we raised last year.

PTAA’s goal for 2019 is to raise half a million meals, and they’re looking for that last boost to get us to the goal by July 31 a mere 8 days from the time I’m posting this.

It’s time for me to see what I can do to help get us there! PTAA is offering me up for auction to help them reach their goal. The winner of the auction will have me all to yourself at your corporate office or chosen property for one day! I have (limited) maintenance skills, salesmanship skills, and a wealth of industry knowledge and experience, and we’re happy to share him with you for a day. (I didn’t write that, our Communications Director did, but I’m running with it). Please feel free to donate even if you can’t make the minimum bid – $1 can provide seven meals so every little bit helps!

The Details

You can place your bid by donating to the team “Jon Lowder” on our donation site (click the link below). Just click “Donate Now,” then make your donation.

  • The MINIMUM bid is a donation of $500 (that minimum bid will provide 3,500 meals!)
  • The donation must be made between today and July 31
  • ALL DONATIONS will go to the food bank and are NONREFUNDABLE – regardless of whether or not you win the auction
  • Whichever company has made the highest donation by 11:59pm on July 31 will win the grand prize: Jon Lowder for a day!
  • The company with the second-highest donation will win 2nd prize: Jon Lowder for half a day (half the day, all the awesome)

Once the auction is over, Jon will follow up to arrange a day to spend on your property, and PTAA will be sure it is well covered in our social media and other publicity!

Questions? Contact Jon with any questions you have before you donate.

DONATE TO BID!

Every dollar raised for the food bank can be used to provide at least seven meals to kids in need. How does that work? Through their partnerships with grocery retailers and the USDA, the food bank is able to source nutritious food, including fresh meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables. The food bank’s culinary program uses some of the ingredients to prepare hot meals, and they are distributed along with fresh food to local pantries, summer feeding locations and soup kitchens across 18 counties.

10,000 Days

Most married folks celebrate their wedding anniversaries, and in particular they pay attention to the “big” anniversaries: 10 years, 25 years, 50 years…you get my drift. Today, Celeste and I are celebrating a day that isn’t traditionally celebrated, but is kind of a cool number: 10,000 days of marriage! It’s been an incredible journey during these 240,000 hours of marriage and I’m looking forward to walking through the next 14,400,000 minutes with her, although I suspect it will be a slower pace.

BTW, any guesses why I have that symbol at the top of this post?

Winston-Salem as a Proxy for Every Other Not-Huge City

Earlier this week the New York Times ran a story titled “Why Midsize Cities Struggle to Catch Up to Superstar Cities” and used Winston-Salem, NC as the focus. Of course, that caught the attention of those of us who live in the Camel City and as a result, many of us have read the article. I will say this: I think the reporter largely hit the mark on the challenges faced by Winston-Salem and other midsize cities in America.

The article rightly points out that a primary challenge for most smaller cities in the country is that they were largely built on the backs of manufacturing at a time when their less expensive labor pool made them attractive places for companies to locate their operations. When global trade happened in the latter part of the 20th century that advantage evaporated and, voila, seemingly every “non-elite” city in America was in the position of trying to reinvent itself for the new economy.

In Winston-Salem, that process started back in the ’80s and ’90s and the extended economic redevelopment work has begun to pay dividends. Fifteen years ago when my wife and I moved our family here the downtown was largely a ghost town after 5 p.m., but now it’s thriving. Hell, using the “Brewery Benchmark,” Winston-Salem is exploding. I can’t say there have been a whole lot of economic development home runs – things like Amazon’s second HQ – but there have been a whole bunch of singles and doubles. And honestly, I think that could be a good thing: growing slowly helps us avoid the boom town headaches of skyrocketing housing prices, traffic congestion, and overcrowded schools.

Probably my favorite part of the article, the part that I think really rings true when you look at Winston-Salem as compared to comparable cities, is this:

If any middling city can make a transition to a technology-centered future, however, Winston-Salem should. It is home to five universities, including Wake Forest, an institution that enrolls four out of its five students from out of state. Transplanted to Winston-Salem in the mid-1950s under the Reynolds family’s patronage from its original site near Raleigh, the university has a leading medical school, which it hopes will anchor a biotech ecosystem.

“The top talent is going to go to the coasts, no doubt about that,” said Graydon Pleasants, head of real estate development for the Innovation Quarter. “But there are plenty of smart people who will come here.”

The article points out what I see as Winston-Salem’s most pressing challenge as well: slow wage growth coupled with housing costs that are rising at a much faster rate. If as a community we can figure out how to fix that while continuing to grow then I think we’ll be in a much better place.

Road Trip 2019 Day 5 – Louisville, Frankfort and Lexington KY

We started the day with a bang in Louisville: toured Churchill Downs, then visited a few distillers (Angels Envy, Evan Williams and Michters) and grabbed a photo op at Louisville Slugger. Then we headed towards Frankfort and visited the Taj Mahal of Bourbon – Buffalo Trace. All we can say about that place is…whoa!After that we drove over to Lexington to have dinner, then checked out the University of Kentucky (where Celeste’s dad was in school when she was born) and then we found the hospital where she was born.A very full and fun day.

Road Trip 2019 Day 4 – Champaign to Louisville

We started the day in Champaign, IL with a great breakfast at a great restaurant called the Farmhouse which is located in a grocery called Harvest Market. Then we found a statue of Roger Ebert for a photo op before hitting the road to Louisville. Once there we hit a distillery called Rabbit Hole and grabbed a BBQ dinner at a joint called Feast. A great day!

Road Trip Day 3 – Omaha, Elk Horn, Iowa City, Davenport, Champaign

We started day three in Omaha and visited three sites: the giant fork and pasta sculpture, the Chef Boyardee statue on the Conagra corporate campus and Joselyn Castle. Then we visited the tiny town of Elk Horn, IA to see their Danish Windmill and had the bonus of finding a tiny chapel and an example of a viking structure. One thing we saw a lot of in Iowa and Illinois? Windmills…lots and lots of windmills.

The rest of the day featured a lot of driving. We crossed the Mississippi River on I-74 from Davenport, IA to Moline, IL and grabbed a room in Champaign, IL.

Road Trip 2019 – Day 2 in York, Seward and Lincoln Nebraska

We didn’t start the day planning to spend it all in Nebraska, but after doing laundry in the morning we got a bit of a late start. Then we found out that Seward, the town where I spent my freshman year of college at Concordia Teachers College (now University), now has a brewery and it was going to open at 3:00 so we decided to take our time to enjoy ourselves.
The day featured a stop in York, NE so Celeste could take a pic of a water tower painted to look like a hot air balloon, a tour around Seward and the Concordia U campus, a walk around the state capitol in Lincoln and we ended up getting a room in Omaha for the night.