George Habel, former Vice President of Sports at Capitol Broadcasting and now the Vice President of Special Projects, stopped by TheBullsOfDurham.com as a guest blogger. George has been with Capitol Broadcasting for 36 years now and in that time has seen a great many changes in the Bull City. In tense times nationally, George sees Durham as a beacon of hope. While he admits we've still got our struggles and there's still a certain Bull City magic that makes Durham so unique.
Please welcome George Habel to our blog and look forward to more of his thoughtful inside in "The Bulls of Durham" living history book launching on April 10th, 2019, Durhams EXACT 150th anniversary.
For two decades I’ve been an inveterate promoter of the Bulls baseball club and more recently the renaissance of downtown Durham. But honestly, I hadn’t given any deep thought to the Bull City’s character. I’ve been challenged by the Bulls of Durham to unpack Durham’s uniqueness. Here’s my take...
Our mill town motif creates a distinct sense of place. There’s an architectural ambiance owing to the brick tobacco factories and warehouses spread across town. We have a smattering of office towers, but our true urban personality sits low on the horizon. It’s framed by masonry cornices and the red-orange brick of our native clay.
Speaking of personality, Durham nurtures a blue collar attitude. We talk of “Bull City grit” and “keep it dirty Durham.” It’s the soul of this 150 year old factory town that birthed the Durham Tobacconists baseball team in 1902, playing against furniture makers and textile workers from other NC mill towns. The Lucky Strike chimney and water tower at American Tobacco are emblematic of that heritage and spirit.
Attitude compliments architecture, but the contradictions are equally beguiling. The venerable warehouses are now home to academics and entrepreneurs. We are the City of Medicine, high tech and higher ed. That lunch pail mentality drives these high achievers in their discovery, disruption and innovation.
A noteworthy aside: Durham’s lunch pail is truly exceptional. We are the South’s Tastiest Town, an accolade from Southern Living magazine. This working class town has world class victuals.
Last but not least, Durham’s most distinguishing feature - at least by Triangle standards - is diversity. It’s dangerous for a 66 year old white guy to talk about race, but I’ll wade in...
The City of Durham is close to evenly black/white with a significant Latinx component. (42% Caucasian, 41% African American, 14% Hispanic, 5% Asian American; 2010 US Census).This is bigger than the data points.
There’s a civic ethic of tolerance and inclusion around race, gender and sexual orientation. There’s a notion that everyone is welcome, that all have a seat at the table. It’s also an expectation of the major employers and burgeoning millennial work force that have revived our downtown.
For most of my years in Durham the mayor was African American, ditto for the chairman of the County Commissioners, and the CEO of the Duke health system was Chinese American. A gay man led the Chamber of Commerce. This isn’t a flash in the pan; it endures.
I’m not a cockeyed optimistic. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Folks fight to be heard and compete for resources. We rally, protest and over-react on social media. Watch out for the sharp elbow. There’s that Durham grit. But I would like to think (and pray) there’s a “force field” protecting Durham from the current wave of tribalism, nativism and racism. Durham is better than that...far better.
It’s an honor and a privilege to be counted among the Bulls of Durham. Let’s toast our tobacco town heritage and grit. Let’s celebrate tech town innovation and inclusion. Happy 150th birthday to Durham NC!
Help support "The Bulls of Durham" making it to the finish line by grabbing a few incrediBULL items at TheBullsOfDurham.com shop.
Home Bull Love Mug
11 ounce coffee mug featuring "Someone in Durham Loves Me" design baseball style. This is a limited edition collector's mug. Once they're gone, they're gone.
AvailaBULL exclusively on TheBullsOfDurham.com.
"Welcome to the Bull City" Book
"Welcome to the Bull City" coffee table book is a taste of what's to come in "The Bulls of Durham" living history book.
This 6"x6", 144 page book he answers of nearly 100 of "The Bulls of Durham" interviews to one Major question: "Someone comes to visit you whose never been to Durham before. What is the FIRST thing you want them to know about the Bull City?"
This book is an absolute must for every home and office in the Bull City! PLUS the perfect holiday gift for your loved ones. There will only be ONE printing of this book, meaning quantities are limited.
Your book will arrive the first week of December in time for the holidays.
Not availaBULL for purchase anywhere, but TheBullsOfDurham.com.
***For corporate bulk orders please contact Sheila Amir at TheBullsOfDurham@gmail.com.***
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