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WUDKWYCH: Greenville embracing change, and millennials


Brian Wudkwych


Monday, August 7, 2017

Change is a scary thing. Sometimes it can threaten our way of life or trample the values we hold so dear. But change is often times necessary for a society and, in this case, a community to grow.

Change is happening here in Greenville right now, and it's driven by recent graduates just entering the workforce. I can see how this might be scary for the older folks who have spent a considerable amount of their lives in the city.

Despite what Facebook might tell you, millennials aren’t out to kill all the things you know and love. Trust me, I’m 22 and working at a newspaper.

With that being said, there are certain changes that I’m more than happy to see, and Greenville seems to be a fine host for the lifestyle shift that young adults are bringing. It makes plenty of sense, too. Greenville’s greatest asset is East Carolina University, and keeping its graduates should certainly be a key point of focus.

A millennial-driven world doesn’t have to solely consist of avocado toast and $8 espressos, but the revitalization of downtown is a great example of how the city is keeping up with its young grads and targeting the audience that the university is shaping.

Young adults can trade fast food and cheap beer for locally-grown produce and locally-brewed drinks. It's a step toward maturity, and the waves of 20-something-year-olds flocking to art galleries or umbrella markets is a great personification of how Greenville can mesh a unique culture with a generation that seems to demand distinctive experiences at every turn.

You can see this change clearly by simply walking through downtown. There are music venues where bands bring original entertainment, art galleries for local talent to show off their work, a variety of food options, many of which are inspired by countries around the world.

It's those experiences that seem to drive millennials, and it makes Greenville more than just a small city in eastern North Carolina. Sure, you can still get home cooked barbecue and enjoy the simplicity that the area has to offer, but it's not all that defines the city and its people.

With people coming from all over the country — and at times around the world — thanks to ECU, Greenville can continuously be influenced by the minds that its university is shaping. This isn’t a bad thing, at least not from the perspective of a recent graduate.

Change is sometimes scary and it hardly ever comes without some pushback, this I think everyone can agree on. But it's not a way of life that's being threatened by the change we're seeing now. Rather, this particular change seems to be a welcoming of new ideas to help revitalize what's already in place.

One day I’ll be the one threatened by the change of a newer generation and I’ve oftentimes pondered what that might look like and if I’d be on the right side of the matter. But for now I’m welcoming it with open arms.

Greenville is changing and I don’t want to get left behind.

Brian Wudkwych is a copy editor with The Daily Reflector. Contact him at bwudkwych@reflector.com and 329-9588.