It's always a good thing to take a minute to reflect on things. Or in this case, three and a half minutes to reflect on the last year of blogging in Albuquerque. For those of you who are new or those who don't know the story behind the blog, this is a great place to start.
Special thanks to Nick Delgado for putting this video together.
It's been one year since I moved back home to Albuquerque.
Before that, I spent three years living in a small northwestern Oklahoma town called Enid.
And it's been six years since I first started blogging.
Six years. That's a long time, at least in blog years. Over that time I've made a lot of changes to the blog and to its focus. But ultimately it's still just a personal blog where I share whatever is on my mind.
But I did make a change back in 2008 when I decided to buy a custom domain name. I looked around and all my top choices were taken but eventually I found one that I really liked. I bought followeric.com for just ten bucks a year. Little did I know just how much that small change would really affect the blog and ultimately even impact my own life.
Enid, Oklahoma has a population of roughly 50,000 people. We're talking less than a tenth the size of Albuquerque's population.
Everyone warned me about the culture shock I could expect when moving from a big city to a small town. They'd say the same kinds of things over and over.
"There's nothing to do here in Enid."
"Nothing happens here."
"It's so boring."
Instead of taking that as a warning, I decided to take that as a challenge.
In a town that has just one of everything--one Walmart, one Starbucks, one mostly vacant mall--I chose to seek out and find the local places and community events around town.
I found that local businesses had the friendliest owners and local restaurants served the best food and the servers always remembered my name. I made friends with musicians and photographers, poets and other artists at coffee shops and events around town. I hung out downtown for First Fridays and played my guitar at local coffee shops and theaters and art galleries--even once inside the mostly vacant mall. I came in third place in a hot dog eating contest and started writing for some local magazines.
I once led a small group of friends on a 24-hour adventure around town in what would be the first in a series of Follow Eric Blogathons. I spent an entire day--from before the sun came up until nearly midnight--on a road trip to Oklahoma City with some friends, stopping at local landmarks, cafes, and restaurants along the way. I spent three days in Tulsa exploring all of the local ins and out in town, running around and literally running in the St. Patrick's Day 5K.
So when it came town to move back home, I made sure to bring that love of all things local with me back to Albuquerque. Because I found the same things they were saying in Enid, they were saying here.
"There's nothing to do in Albuquerque."
"Nothing happens here."
"It's so boring."
And I discovered that the same small-town mentality can be found even in the bigger cities. And I learned that the best way to combat that is to get out and explore what's happening at the local level.
In the last year I've really taken to heart the mantra of "exploring the local, sharing the personal." It's the tag line I use on Follow Eric. And it's been a guiding factor in rediscovering the city where I grew up.
Over the past year, I've been part of cash mobs, Free Art Friday, poetry nights. I've had coffee from every local cafe I could find. I've made friends with a whole fleet of food truck owners and was even fortunate to be voted among the top five best bloggers in Albuquerque the Magazine's Best of the City awards.
Sometimes it can be a little hard to sum things up when people ask me what my blog is all about so I'm hoping that this helps give you a better understanding. And more than anything, I hope that it helps to challenge you and inspires to go out and explore what's happening at the local level. Go out and find a local eatery over a chain or get to know your local business owners. Go to a restaurant where you know the chef's name and they know yours.
That's really what it's about when I say "exploring the local and sharing the personal." And I just want to say, thanks for reading the blog.