By Nicole Goodman, Trinity Mellon Fellow in Downtown Development
San Antonio is a special place. Sure, Austin’s got the music thing, and the Sixth Street thing, and the all-around “chill” thing. Young people love it and want to live there. It’s definitely a place to be. But, as a previous Austin resident, I’m pretty stubborn when I tell people that San Antonio is the special city. San Antonio is all about the people. We’ve got the community thing, and San Antonio is where I want to be.
As a recent college graduate from Trinity University (about 8 weeks out now…), I’ve spent my last four years in San Antonio getting to know this city. Well, that’s a lie. I’ve definitely spent my last four years in the library. But as an Urban Studies student, I made my way out into the city whenever I could, picking up on pieces of San Antonio here and there, and going downtown every chance that I got. From visiting our awesome artists and the galleries at Blue Star to panting alongside native San Antonians at the pub run on First Friday (foolishly wearing my friend’s Mavericks jersey for lack of any other sportswear… I really have no excuse), to working with residents in some of our most at-risk and disadvantaged neighborhoods, I’ve seen the mix of people who make up our San Antonio community.
One thing always struck me about my time here: although I’m not a native, nowhere else have I ever felt the sense of community and spirit that I have discovered here in San Antonio. People here love their city and their neighborhoods. If you’re looking to gain a real, authentic experience from the city where you live, I’d say the community – the people – are the source, and this city is where you’ll find it.
This is where SA2020 comes in. I’ve been granted the awesome opportunity to work with SA2020 this summer as a Trinity Mellon Fellow for Downtown Development, and if there’s anyone who gets the whole community in San Antonio thing, it’s these guys. This initiative is all about the people. They recognize the spirit of the people in this city and they’re building off of the sense of community here, asking residents what they want to see change in San Antonio and then asking them to be the ones to change it. I love that SA2020 isn’t trying to invent anything new – we are simply focusing the community’s energy and drive to build a stronger San Antonio in the future.
As an Urban Studies graduate, I feel particularly invested in watching the community here prosper and thrive. And particularly after getting a taste of the growth and community development I’ve seen through my projects and education at Trinity University, I want to be a part of it. I love downtown, and I see it and its cultural institutions as the potential pulsing center of the community of San Antonio. I want to be around not only for the end product, but for the hard work it will take to catalyze the residents and organizations in the city to create a downtown that is “the heart of San Antonio and is everyone’s neighborhood.” I hope that my role this summer as a Downtown Development Fellow is only very beginning of my involvement with the change we see taking place in our city. I’ve been placed in a unique position to see the passion and effort residents and organizations are putting forth, and I want to continue to be a part of it. I’m honored to say that along with the rest of the San Antonio community, I am SA2020.