Throughout my life, I’ve had the pleasure of living or working in several university towns. By far my favorite is Arlington. For over a decade I was a part of the UT Arlington family, and now I’m a townie (the term used in my hometown college town for those who live or work locally).
What’s the best thing about a university town? Sure, intercollegiate sports are awesome (go Mavs!), but for me it’s all about the people. Whether you’re a part of the UTA community or a townie, folks in Arlington are both ingenious and genuine. This is particularly true in Downtown, the cultural and historic city center to which so many people are drawn. From the kid learning ballet at Miss Persis Dance Studio, to the engineering interns at MMA landscape architecture firm, to world-class researchers hard at work in their UTA labs, to entrepreneurs like Heidi Allison of Sugar Bee Sweets Bakery, there’s palpable dream-chasing going on in Downtown Arlington.
About a year ago this week, it felt like it all came to a halt.
If I learned anything by working at UTA in proximity to actual rocket scientists and medical miracle-workers, science needs time to think, try, learn, retry, then do. I don’t think this basic principle differs much whether you’re a beginning ballet dancer or an aspiring civil engineer or an inventor or a first-time baker.
So even though it might have felt like it, a year ago it didn’t all come to a halt. Not even close. The genuinely ingenious people of Arlington kept working the problems and discovering new solutions. Just take a look at the City’s comprehensive COVID-19 response, the recently-released Unity Council recommendations, the City’s winter storm recovery site, and Downtown Arlington’s shared arts feasibility study to name a few.
I was lucky enough to be invited into some Plan B, C and D thinking during that time, too. Shortly before the pandemic quarantine began, for instance, my long-time pal Tony Rutigliano was ready to begin construction on Sociability, a community gathering space adjacent to his restaurant Urban Alchemy. When it became obvious that he had to tap the brakes on that project, we started talking about other ways one might build and celebrate community.
It took a few months of thinking, trying and learning before we did it, but in October 2020 we launched Sociability as an online lifestyle magazine. Filled with stories and images contributed by people from the Greater Arlington community, Sociability celebrates “living generously and serving joyfully.” Tony is the publisher, I’m the executive editor, and every month we welcome talented, insightful new contributors. We’re still learning by doing, and we love every minute.
The theme for the March issue of Sociability is LUCK. Originally inspired by St. Patrick’s Day, four-leafed clovers, and other symbols of good fortune, we also wanted to pay tribute to Downtown Arlington, an organization that introduced us to each other, a place we truly love, and a community of people we are lucky to call our friends and colleagues.
In this month's issue, you’ll see the Downtown Arlington takeover of our InstaGratitude section, a collection of original photographs that represent moments of every-day gratitude in the heart of our city. Also be sure to check out the lovely story by Elena Thaxton, Marketing Coordinator for Downtown Arlington, about her adventures in downtowns with her son Aiden and Hank the Dog. She also put together a super-comprehensive guide of fun things to do in Downtown during Spring Break, including Downtown’s new Health and Wellness Series.
Ahhh, Spring Break. With the promise of spring in the air, it’s hard not to get light-headed with the promise of long-awaited freedom. Isn’t that what spring fever is all about? During Spring Break 2021, however, it’s still our responsibility to make good choices. Nearly 16% of Tarrant County adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is a good start but nowhere near the finish line. So get out in the fresh air, keep your mask handy, check out Elena’s Spring Break guide, and spend some time in your favorite Downtown businesses, arts organizations, restaurants, green spaces, murals, pubs and destinations. Because when the heart is strong and pumping, the rest of the city will be healthy, too.
Contributed by Amy J. Schultz. Photo of Elena and Aiden shot by Katie Gosa. Photo of Amy by Jillian Zamora Photography.