by Joe Courter
Every year about this time there is an infusion of new people to Gainesville, and to them we say WELCOME. This goes out to them especially, but is also for everyone: You have landed in an amazing little city, with many hidden treasures. Do get out and explore, be it nature-related, food-related, music-related, or whatever. Spread your wings and fly from the campus cocoon, the malls and the familiar corporate logo-ed businesses. Hey, you’ve already found the Iguana!
Supporting local businesses is important to the vitality of this town. Money spent in a local business stays in town and circulates around. Lots of small shops, be it clothes, bikes, restaurants, groceries, books, music; can provide you with what you need. Talk to natives.
Get out and explore yard sales on weekends for economical goods, from kitchen to recreational; i.e., cheap bikes, etc. There has been a great expansion of bike lanes, get a decent bike, a good lock and you’ve got a way to get around.
Here is an important nugget to plant in your brain about getting around Gainesville: CLAP and STDs. No this isn’t a safe sex message (though by all means be sensible in that regard). This involves navigation, and here it is: Courts, Lanes, Avenues and Places are East-West in orientation. Streets, Terraces and Drives are North-South. Roads have a sort of diagonal component. That concept, coupled with the fact that University Avenue and Main St. are your zero numbered axes that divide East from West, North from South, and you can find that friend’s house or store.
Support local Credit Unions and not the big banks ‘cause it’s the right thing to do. Period.
Plug in to ways to make the town better. Advisory boards from the city, volunteer at non-profit groups, or local organizations for social activism. Radical Rush is a good way to find such organizations; see the article in this issue of the Iguana for more details. Register to vote here, and represent the future generations of folks coming here. Or maybe your future self, because you may just find you like it here and decide to stay.