“Perhaps in the new year you could write a little about hope. I mean I’ve seen a lot in my years—and I understand how the world right now is. But maybe you could talk a bit about finding a good and a hopeful outlook.”

route 66

Gwenyfar Rohler sets her sights on Route 66 in 2015. Stock photo

My longtime friend Wade stopped into the bookstore to chat about my last couple of Live Local columns before the end of the year. They seemed to have been written by Debbie Downer; he was right. The new year is a time to look to the future and choose what kind of world we want to build, not lament what we have.

In the past, I have written about how I try to view new year’s resolutions as something more lasting than the proverbial “look great in a bikini by May” turnip. If I am honest, my own repetitive failure is the plan to get my credit cards paid off. So, I am not going to offer that chestnut this year. I think transportation and exploration are going to be major themes for me in 2015.

Last year I finally took a bus to the beach to explore the possibility of public transit and our greatest asset: the beach. This year I am going to explore the Brunswick Connector the Wave operates to go across the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. The traffic congestion in north Brunswick County has been a major topic of discussion in our area lately. I am curious if utilizing the Brunswick Connector could alleviate that and enhance the visiting experience for our beautiful historic downtown area.

My VW restoration project is taking a high priority in my life right now. The bus (The Argus) has the engine, transmission and interior out of it, and the windows are slowly getting removed. What I am learning about patience and good craftsmanship (both originally in 1967 and the importance of taking my time and doing good work now) is deepening my appreciation of what craft truly is. Current plans are that she will be ready to roll by July 22 for a trip to the Main Street of America: Route 66.

Main Street is a concept and topic that seems to live in nostalgia and the political sphere but for many people has disappeared out of their lives otherwise. Part of what intrigues me about Route 66 is the opportunity to see parts of our country’s past that are still vibrant alongside those that have passed by. Where the line is and why intrigues me. We are planning to pick up the Main Street of America in Springfield, MO, and take it to California. We should see the impact that municipalities, states and geography can have on economic opportunities.

Far-reaching travel plans aside, one of my dawning realizations of the summer and autumn months was that I have been so focused in years past on trying to keep the bookstore afloat and still juggle all the balls in my life that I somehow became very disconcerted form the natural world that makes the Cape Fear area and North Carolina so alluring. As one encore reader pointed out to me, “How can you talk about economics in our area and not talk about the river and the beach?”


It’s a question of such simplicity and truth that I just stop cold and try to truly listen. So, one of my resolutions this year is to get out and spend some time with our natural resources—really explore the interplay between them and our economic world. The port created by the river and ocean meeting is obviously responsible for much of the settling and developing of our area, but what has happened since and what does it mean?

One of the things that I worked on last year—Live Local resolution-wise—was employing some local tradesmen and getting the second floor of the bookstore worked on. Starting at the beginning of the year, I will have tradesmen upstairs, working on my parent’s house, which is badly in need of restoration, which means I’ll be back to supporting Godwin lumber for materials and moving forward with local craftsmen whose work I really respect.

After much thought and consideration, Jock and I have come to the conclusion that one of the best things we can do for each other is to make a serious effort to improve our eating habits. It has been a confluence of events that have created what I think of as our poor diet: like many very busy, professional couples, there are a lot of days that cooking a full meal at home was the last thing anyone had any energy for. As well, our kitchen is not exactly the most delightful place to cook. While caring for my father these last few years, many, many meals were eaten with him, which usually meant eating out or getting take-out. At home it was pretty much bread, potatoes or pasta because they are cheap and can go a long way. We heat with wood at home. In an effort to heat more of the house, I bake pretty much three to four times a week during the winter, so there is a lot of heavy, whole-wheat bread. To make a real investment in our health and happiness, I am going to change this pattern.

We have got to start eating a more diverse diet than potatoes. This is Wilmington 2015 not Dublin 1846. We are surrounded by farmers and a rich agricultural heritage. Though I love shopping at the farmers’ market, we have just not been thoroughly utilizing this resource the way we could. There is (un)fortulanetly a longterm kitchen renovation happening in our lives right now. That makes it hard to want to cook or eat at home, but I am going to power through this. In the end, it will be much more enticing to work in there. Not to mention, hopefully, we will both be feeling better, more productive and connected with our community.   

We have some continuing stories from last year that we need to continue to focus on: the film industry, the proposed Municipal Service District and our changing local economy. The more I shift to buying and supporting local, the more change I see around me for the better. In that vein, while walking around the area, I have started to realize there are a lot of local things I don’t do or try. I think as a final resolution, I am going to come up with a list of 50 things to do in Wilmington that are new to me. Hopefully, I will meet some new, wonderful people, discover more about my hometown, and deepen my understanding of the economic ties that bind us together.

So, it looks like an exciting year ahead! Please, join me in rediscovering what our area has to offer and investing here to make it flourish.

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