I had the opportunity to show a few visitors around our fair city over the weekend. Their extensive online research into Faulkner County was impressive. I'd say that as far as book smarts go, they schooled me about the demographics of Faulkner County's population, top industries, housing market and trends. I was just there to take them to lunch and add the color commentary. Seriously, I'm no John Madden but I could give Collinsworth a run for his money when it comes to talking about why Conway is, well, Conway.
- The 54-foot-tall Christmas tree - you know what stood out to the visitors? That we have one. The fact that Conway citizens are passionate enough to speak up about it was also impressive. (On a side note, they loved it.)
- The buzz downtown - call it revitalization, rejuvenation or just activity, Downtown Conway represents the health of the business community. And to visitors, seeing a walkable and shopable downtown with bustling restaurants and parks is something straight out of Mayberry and Andy's Bluebird Diner. They loved it. (Neither visitor had a Christmas tree or parade in their communities.)
- A+ schools - not just the elementary and high schools, it's also the colleges and UCA, look around, overall Faulkner County schools are exceptional. I've been in it so long that I see the holes, but the emphasis our community puts into supporting education really shows.
- Geek central - it's attractive and catchy to visitors. Tech start ups (as reported on the front page of Sunday's Log Cabin) and our younger-than-normal average age are appealing and interesting. In spite of the HP layoffs this year, new and sustainable businesses are thriving.
Our main concerns - growing pains, housing issues, tax money, poverty and low-income families are all common problems you'll find in any community.
Could it be that I've been in it for so long that it takes a visitor with fresh eyes to show me the beauty where I'm living? Sometimes I forget that our problems aren't special, they're actually pretty common, but what makes Faulkner County special is the citizens. So before you point out a problem and roll your eyes, just remember that there are plenty of communities who'd trade places with us in an instant.