Justin Laidlaw is about as 'Durham' as it gets.
That means a lot of things as locals use Durham to mean just about anything, but for those who get that and are with that it makes total sense.
Born in and of the Bull City, Justin has a unique perspective; one that's dripping with gratitude and miraculously unadulterated awe; an effortless defiance of the fallacious Durham rep.
When interviewed for "The Bulls of Durham" living history book project Justin brought to the table a story of growing up with opportunities and defining moments that were made possible by Durham. From a diverse background to a clandestine childhood basketball game, he's grateful for it all and cognizant of how that molded and shaped him.
It's that reflective nature that has given Justin a very distinct vantage point of Durham and that is why when he speaks (writes) Durham listens. From hugs on Main Street to musings from afar, Justin's a thread in the finely, tightly woven fabric of Durham.
Justin stopped by TheBullsOfDurham.com to show us Durham, North Carolina through the bull's eye. This guest blog is fully loaded with Bull City feels - tissues recommended.
It all started with a tweet… and in the Bull City that’s actually a good thing – in this case incrediBULL.
On May 31st, 2018 the Durham Bulls Baseball team will take the field wearing DURM jerseys designed by none other than Runaway Clothing, specifically Founder and Creative Director Gabe Enz-Goetz. It’s DURM Night 3.0.
Gabe is a Durham native who grew up a Durham Bulls fan. He’s said repeatedly in interviews that DURM night is a dream come true and he’s grateful to be a part of this historic baseball team’s history. A history that runs deep all the way back to 1902 when the Durham Bulls were established as theDurham Tobacconists.
It was 1912 when the team officially took the field as the Durham Bulls. 104 years later on June 8th, 2016 they stepped onto the field as the DURM Bulls sporting jerseys based on Durham’s red, yellow and blue flag with the 7 stars. It was a home run. A tradition began. History was made – Bull City style.
Today, April 10th, 2018, Durham celebrates it’s 149th anniversary of incorporation, TheBullsOfDurham.com celebrates a year of existence and the countdown to launching “The Bulls of Durham” living history book is on.
Since launching the website a year ago to date a lot of progress has been made on the project. Trial, errors, triumphs, adventures and more. We’re 554 days into the project with 365 days more to go. 919 days from beginning to end to be exact and eerie.
Over 2000 Bull Love Mugs have sold in 1 year. The mugs are availaBULL in English, Spanish and Pride variations now and have made their way into 31 states, 9 countries and 4 continents. The term ‘mug shot’ is getting a much-needed positive spin in the Bull.
Over 100 individuals have been interviewed for the book with local archivist and author Andre Vann getting the honor of being the 100th interviewee. Hip-hop artist turned VP and now actor Joshua Gunn was the 84th interviewee on the book’s 1-year anniversary.
Last month interviewee, retired reporter and local historian Jim Wise wrote the first TheBullsOfDurham.com guest blog. The final interviews are being placed on the books and funding for transcription is on its way.
The book is well on its way to completion – an estimated 252 pages saying, “This is who we are. This is what we value. This is where we’ve come from. This is what makes Durham, Durham.”
The lingering question is, “What’s next?”
For the creator of “The Bulls of Durham,” the answer is a long nap extending from the launch party well into the next week. The efforts put forth to be a neutral observer for nearly 1,000 days is taxing to say the least and riddled with moments of faltering. It’s not easy being Switzerland.
What’s next for Durham, North Carolina?
The thing about Durham, Carolina, as if there is only one thing about Durham, is it's best to drop your expectations at the city line. They'll only weigh you down. The people, places, history and collective jene sais quoi will defy any and every expectation you have. Whether that's a good, bad or different experience is entirely up to you.
Another thing about the Bull City, again there are many things about this city, is that being intelligent, insightful, compassionate and talented doesn't make you special. This city is bursting with potential in every direction.
In any other city you wouldn't expect to find a heartfelt interview from the President and CEO of their Chamber of Commerce. Welcome to Durham where compassion and insight are integral to your success in any position. Durham Chamber President and CEO Geoff Durham share what makes the city sharing his name stand out and if he's related to Bartlett Durham, for whom the city is named after.
Who deserves props for being an integral part of what makes Durham, Durham?
“The Bulls of Durham” living history book project is unique in that it is being created in the public eye. Since inception, it has taken on a life of its own, strengthened community, shed light on overlooked Durham gems and built a lasting platform our city can proudly showcase as, “This is who we are. This is what makes Durham, Durham.”
With over 100 incrediBULL Durhamite interviews, countless hours of research and writing, 1000s of followers and over 2000 bull love mug sales, “The Bulls of Durham” is stampeding towards completion.
This living history book blends Durham’s rich history with stories and perspectives of our city’s greats who are continuing to build upon that history. And in this way, this is the story of Durham, North Carolina through the bulls’ eyes.
It would be remiss to say that this project is solely a book. The project began with a blog and social media to share the progress. It grew into a community resource to learn about Durham events, opportunities and history. The book launch will be paired with Durham Public Schools receiving copies and a museum exhibit that is free and open to the public.
As if all that isn’t incrediBULL enough, something else has happened on the way to completing this book.
I stumBULLed upon some more Durham magic.
Sheila Amir is a health & nutrition writer who fell in love with Durham, North Carolina and starting writing a book about it.