This entry is written in response to the article “Why I Love Baton Rouge” by NOLA.com writer Kiri Walton. I came across it at 2:30 this morning while designing graphics for a local production company. The article hit home not only because of the title and content, but because of Ms. Walton’s background; she moved here from Atlanta, similar to my own story. After reading it more than once, I decided to write a blog emphasizing how much I agree with the her entry.
About the author, Kiri Walton is a community engagement specialist for the Baton Rouge division of NOLA.com. She had only been in here for three months, coming in from Atlanta. In the article, she says she loves this city not only because of the climate, but because of the culture, the atmosphere and the massive potential that can’t be found anywhere else. If anyone knows my history with Baton Rouge, you would know how much I reviled this place. But after living in Atlanta for a total of two months, it made me realize that BR is the perfect place for me to set up shop.
I was born in New Orleans, of course, landing in Baton Rouge after Katrina. But a slew of social missteps had me hating the Red Stick with a fiery passion, blasting it on the internet as one of the worst cities anyone could possibly live in. I’ll redact a post I made in 2011 at the City-Data forum.
Just have to add my input since I’m TEMPORARILY moving back to Baton Rouge from Atlanta to be with my family (I’m coming back to ATL…third time’s the charm…in August):
1) BR is a pretty gay city. Covert, yes, but pretty gay. BTW, if you’re gay, single and reading this, your dating prospects are slim and your “serious conversation” prospects are non-existent. Capice? [sic]
2) BR is a pretty bigoted city. You have your racists, your homophobes, your racist homophobes and even your GAY racists.
3) BR is a black-and-white city [with little diversity].
4) BR has the worst drivers. The roads and interstates here in Atlanta, especially 75/85, are like the Autobahn, but the drivers are nowhere near as kooky as the lead-feet and lane-jumpers in BR.
5) BR is a slow, stop-and-go city. Many places to dine, several places to shop and a few places to just hang out, but nothing that’ll really hold your attention.
6) BR is a college town.
7) BR supposedly has a bunch of projects lined up, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Heck, I just learned that the Pinnacle Casino slated for Summer 2010 STILL hasn’t come to! My first trip deep into Atlanta, back in August, introduced me to Atlantic Station. The District (AS’s open-air mall) is my favorite place in the world…and absolutely has to be what Perkins Rowe is a mini duplicate of…just sayin’.
8) BR has some good spots and some bad spots. Some on here call it a midsized city, but New Orleans, my hometown, is more like a midsized city to me. There are no distinct neighborhoods, but the good and the bad are scattered throughout. Scotlandville […] I wouldn’t leave a Sprite bottle there because someone might murder it…
It’s not that I hate or even dislike BR, but the people there, while not ugly in nature, are a little…primitive (I tend to use a word that starts with “n” and ends with “thal”), some of the people I know from there aren’t very driven and there’s little to do if you’re someone like me who gets bored easily. It’s by no means a “nothing town;” it’s nice and quaint, and good to settle down in, but to me, it’s a relatively dull one.
For every single one of those points, I’ve been proven dead wrong. Especially, I was judging the entire city based on the few people I had met. Baton Rouge does have some of the world’s worst drivers, but just as Ms. Walton said, “I just can’t help but chuckle because unless you’ve sat in standstill traffic for an hour, for seemingly no real reason at all, on I-85 at 9 p.m. on a Friday in Atlanta, then you haven’t experienced awful traffic.” That’s what I call ‘the gospel.’
More on those points, anyone and everyone lives in Baton Rouge, and it’s the opposite of the stop-and-go city. If anything, it’s more of an A.D.D. city as there’s probably too much to do. It’s to the point where I have to manage my money a certain way just to keep up just to keep up! Big budget movies are shot here on a daily basis, and you’ll likely pass a film truck at least once a day, including those for craft services. It’s nearly impossible to visit every single eatery before you die and you need a planner the size of the Shaw Center to keep up with all of the events…
…inside the Shaw Center.
Oh, and that Pinnacle Casino I ranted about? It’s called L’Auberge, and I highly recommend that all of you go there pronto.
Metro Baton Rouge is a sprawling region that has been on a dramatic incline since 2012, and from the looks of it, that doesn’t seem to be letting up. From what I know, it isn’t so much as new people coming in, but the countless students from LSU, Southern, BRCC and Southeastern staying here because they no longer feel the need to go anywhere. This is where people like me come in.
From one capital city to another, I fled to Atlanta because I wanted a new life. I felt that Atlanta had a broader array of people to which I’d eventually connect with, and I felt that it had a lot more opportunity as I’m seeking a career in graphic design/media. But in the two months that I spent there, I fell in love with the city itself while being entirely disappointed with the people who live there. Unlike Baton Rouge, this wasn’t a result of a few bad seeds, but of nearly everyone I came across.
I returned to Baton Rouge for good in March of 2011, but it wasn’t until sometime in 2012 when I decided to give our capital a fair chance. Just from driving around, I gained a new respect for BR, which then caused me to pay attention to the local ads on TV and in public. I began visiting these restaurants, I began viewing these museums and most importantly, I began networking. Had it not been for the latter, I wouldn’t have landed that long sought-after client, and I wouldn’t have landed that long sought-after client had it not been for—you guessed it—the city of Baton Rouge.
I’ve lived in various parts the area, and each surely has its own identity. But for all that they have to offer, Downtown has my heart the most. I spend the warmer days running, lounging and filming down at the river. In fact, I was recently filmed on the Paper Clips for NBC33 News, which was a great experience on its own because I studied journalism at one point. Actually, it was part of why I went to Atlanta in the first place, to study journalism at Georgia State with an internship at WSB 2. In this case, I could easily return home to New Orleans or try to get back to Atlanta for the third time, but that goes against what I stand for right now.
Baton Rouge is a city making a name just as I am a designer trying to do the same. New Orleans is iconic, and Atlanta is established; both cities are grown-ups. But Baton Rouge is the rising star of the nation. With my outlook on my life and my work, I’m making it my mission to be part of the growth of a city. All of that and many more are why I’ve become the Red Stick’s biggest cheerleader.
My Space Shuttle will be launched for the tenth time on January 28, 2014, paying tribute to the 28th anniversary of the Challenger accident. In addition, #SociallyAwkward, a two-part ‘biographical thriller’ will be coming to your shelves and e-readers very soon. Until then, check out my other blogs, follow me on Twitter and check out my work on here, YouTube and also Soundcloud.