Starting with hello | CLT Blog
photo: Je Kemp (via Flickr)photo: Je Kemp (via Flickr)

Starting with hello

Posted on 8 Apr 2011 by Marc Gustafson

Instead of staring at the ground, the dog, space, the trees, the grass, a Blackberry or nothing at all, what if we looked at each other and just said hello?  This thought has crossed my mind as I’ve walked, run, and ridden around Charlotte.

You see, I grew up in a small town where everyone waved.  It’s just what you did.  What I still do today.  So the irony is never lost on me when, in a place where we’re known for our hospitality, we don’t bother to say hello. 

It’s what we share in these short greetings – the acknowledgment of the common experience — that connects us as runners, dog walkers, bus riders, car drivers, cyclists, and people.  These seemingly inconsequential exchanges create the kinds of attachments that bind us to one another, create trust, foster pride and make us citizens and not residents of this beautiful city. 

This point was punctuated at a recent Diversity and Inclusion seminar hosted by the Arts & Science Council where one of the participants expressed her sense that, despite the perception of an open and inclusive city, Charlotteans don’t seem to trust each other.

We came, or in some cases returned, to Charlotte because of its opportunities.  A blank canvas on which to create, refine or renew ourselves. 

We built new buildings, stylish museums, grand homes, and smooth roads, but we can’t build community until we say hello. This doesn’t mean we have to be friends, that will come, but we could start with a simple greeting, a nod, a smile that in such a short time can express so much.     

By saying hello we accept, do not fear, and care for each other.  We start to overcome our fears, prejudices, biases, and preconceived notions.  We become the place we are supposed to be. 

So when you see me, say hello, give me a wink.  I trust you.


  1. Dora 8 Apr 2011 at 8:47 PM

    Hi :D

  2. Scott Rudd 9 Apr 2011 at 12:04 AM

    Hi Marc, thank you for pointing out the basic flaw in our cynical society. Although our cynicism is probably well warranted, we need to learn to push through and give others the benefit of the doubt. Saying hi really is the foundation of any society, so hi Marc, I hope you are having a great evening!

  3. Steven Erdmanczyk 9 Apr 2011 at 1:55 PM

    I always wander around other cities and often get smiles from almost any random stranger. Then I return here and get reminded of the atmosphere by the first person who jolts there eyes away from mine. I couldn’t agree more with this.

  4. Ben 29 Apr 2011 at 11:22 AM

    I think that same thing sometimes. I know that I came from a small town (one stoplight small) in Upstate NY. Everyone waved and said hello even if you had never seen each other before. It wasn’t important that you were from the same graduating class, or that you worked in the same office. You were neighbors. In Charlotte, we’re all neighbors. We need to remember that that’s what separates us from other cities. Be kind, be friendly. It’ll make your day better.