As a lifelong resident of High Point, I have witnessed the evolution of this city I call home. Yet many people in High Point often overlook the growth and progress taking place right before our eyes. My career has included traveling the globe, and anytime I shared that I was from High Point, NC the enthusiastic responses included remarks like, “What a beautiful city!” or the often uttered, “It must be so inspiring to be from High Point!”
People would gush over the countless design options, our beautiful downtown with impressive architecture like the port side of a ship, John Coltrane’s hometown, the growing university, and more. Yet interestingly enough, I would return home to oftentimes negative comments that didn’t seem to reflect the same High Point, and I found myself frustrated. How did these negative voices not see the High Point I knew and loved?”
Then, one night around my family’s kitchen table during dinner, all of that changed.
My husband and our two children asked ourselves, “What if people could see High Point through our eyes? What if they could see the amazing business owners who have taken risks to open businesses in the city they love too? What if they could see the beautiful University that has significantly contributed to many of the amenities we enjoy? What if they could see the changemakers who are impacting countless lives through their time and their financial gifts? What about the success stories of young professionals raised and educated here who have chosen to stay here to raise their families and contribute to this community?
What if they could see High Point through a rose-colored lens?
That night an idea was born. My family and I spent the next couple of weeks taking photos around town, and on October 23, 2016, we created an anonymous Instagram page that randomly highlighted the unique and special things of High Point, always starting with the caption “Did you know…” We named this page High Point Discovered. By definition, dis·cov·er / dəˈskəvər/ is “to obtain knowledge of for the first time or to divulge a secret.” Our community is filled with artists, makers, families, entrepreneurs, and places worth discovering, and we were willing to bridge the gap between the community of High Point and all there is to discover in High Point.
What happened next was amazing. People noticed. I started receiving direct messages on Instagram asking who was behind this Instagram page. I received heartfelt thank you’s from businesses who had new customers, thanks to our posts. Many reached out to ask how they could be featured. Some simply responded with comments like, “Wow, I have lived here my whole life and never knew this.”
I never replied with more than a simple thank you. The anonymity of it was delicious and soul–feeding. Our idea was working, and we were making a difference. The Instagram page grew despite its anonymous approach and quickly gained traction in our community and beyond.
High Point Discovered was helping people discover High Point.
Meanwhile over at Barbour Spangle (the interior design studio I started with my partner and friend, Christi Spangle), we were debating whether or not to continue our design blog. I found myself frustrated and tired of posting. I felt if we were going to invest the time, energy, and money into the blog, it needed to be unique and – let’s be honest – in the days of HGTV and all–things-design, unique was difficult to accomplish. After months of consideration, an idea suddenly hit me while in the shower (where all great ideas are born, right?). We could blog about High Point. This focus provided us a very unique perspective. And, it hit all the other filters for a successful blog: limitless content, a specific point of view, a unique creative city with a global audience.
From a local perspective, we have stories about our neighbors doing great things, amazing restaurants, a great Parks & Rec department for a city of our size and so much more. We were in the infancy stages of a new ballpark which meant we would have the attention throughout our state. The University opened doors to sharing stories about our city with the entire country. And the High Point Market gives High Point exposure to the world.
Unique perspective indeed.
With buy-in from my partner, I shared this idea with a handful of people whom I admire and trust. (Thank you by the way to each of you, you know who you are). I sat down one-on-one with each of them and shared the concept. I asked them to tell me how it could fail, to poke holes in it, to convince me to not do it. But they didn’t.
Every. Single. One. of them enthusiastically responded and encouraged us to proceed. With such a positive response, we went from a seed of an idea to launching a blog just three months later in March 2018 – no small feat.
Our vision was (and still is) to be the catalyst that changed the way locals and visitors view High Point. By creating a unique, positive conversation about High Point with beautiful photography that is unlike any the city has ever seen. Through thoughtful storytelling, we will have opened the door to create opportunities and engagement from within and outside the community.
Just months after our first post, as the blog and Instagram were gaining in popularity at breakneck speed, I was contacted by a trusted associate in marketing for one of the most impactful organizations in High Point. He told me that High Point Discovered was making High Point look cool. For a city that has struggled for the last few decades to claim our identity, this was a very bold statement.
Cool? I asked myself. How could this be? He said to me, “Christi, this blog idea is remarkable. The impact of it is significant, and the city needs it. You know you have created something special when people are asking you how to be featured and others are using you as a third-party endorsement of our city.” While I had heard many remarkable things up to this point, it was this direct approach that opened my eyes to the difference we were making.
Today I have embraced the fact that High Point Discovered is indeed transforming the way people see High Point. Our vision is becoming our reality as we continue to empower people by telling stories and elevating the voices of our community. This outreach is connecting people and serving as an economic catalyst within the community.
This realization and acceptance have led us to turn High Point Discovered into a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Now led by a strong volunteer Board of Directors, our organization is reaching a larger audience and making even more of an impact on our economic development.
So why is this important to us? The stories we share and the programs we introduce will lead to thriving business with a humming local scene, leaders who become mentors to groom and push others into the spotlight, and an influx of young professionals to foster this growing community.
High Point serves as a launch point for countless ideas that eventually find a home somewhere in the world, improving lives, and bringing happiness. These beautiful works of art make up the history of our city and are the reason why the downtown Market Square Building has etched in its stone wall: A City With All The Eyes of The World Upon It. So what are you waiting for? Let’s discover High Point together.
Keep Discovering our High Points,
Christi Barbour, HPD Founder