The Grand Opening of #CLTLivingRoom!

It feels like yesterday that we gathered in the Trolley Museum to discuss our ideas for a “Neighborhood Living Room,” but time has flown by and now we’re excited to invite you to this pop-up public space where people can gather and connect.

Dilworth Artisan Station: 118 E. Kingston Ave.
open daily 9 AM – 9 PM

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Park your bike, sit back and relax, see live entertainment, do yoga, play a board game, create art, have a meal, sip coffee, bring a pet, meet new friends, and enjoy all the Neighborhood Living Room has to offer.

Schedule of events:

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Walk & Talk Recap

Wow. There aren’t really words to describe how blown away I was by the turn-out for my Community Walk & Talk. At the peak there were over 50 people present to give input on what they would like to see in the Neighborhood Living Room… what?!? #outofbodyexperience

First we walked around the South End with local Historian Tom Hanchett, who gave us a lesson on the history of the very ground we were standing on. Other longtime Charlotteans like Gaines Brown and David Walters chimed in with personal anecdotes to bring to life some of Tom’s facts. It really set the tone for a cool, collaborative night.

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Community Walk & Talk – July 29th

Want to be learn more about my “pop-up neighborhood living room” project and/or help me make it happen? Join me for a Community Walk & Talk on Wednesday, July 29th at 6 PM.Community Walk and Talk

First, we’ll meet at the Food Truck Friday lot and walk the block with renowned Charlotte historian, Tom Hanchett. Then we’ll head inside the Charlotte Trolley Museum to develop ideas for the lot together. Light refreshments will be provided.

Stick around for an after party at Common Market with neighbors and fellow enthusiasts!


Think Big, Act Small: Lessons Learned from K880

While boarding my flight from Charlotte to the K880 Emerging City Champions studio in Toronto, I experienced the first of many pinch-me moments. How was it even possible that a few weeks ago I was meticulously finessing my big idea to fit a “100 words or less” application, and now I was buckling up for an international flight that would take me to meet the other winners?

The second of these moments occurred when the Customs guy gave me a fist bump upon arrival. Oh, Canada. You and your friendly ways.

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Creating a Neighborhood Living Room

Three months ago I was sitting at work, scrolling through Twitter (like one does), when I happened upon a program called the K880 Emerging City Champions. The Knight Foundation and 8 80 Cities were teaming up to award 25 young civic innovators from around the country with a $5,000 grant to make their city more livable.

The opportunity seemed like a dream come true, so I sent in an application on behalf of Charlotte and hoped for the best. Miraculously, they selected my proposal!

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1. I’m Varian, a resident of Charlotte’s South End neighborhood.

2. I’ve noticed several underutilized lots in South End that have potential to be dynamic gathering places.

3. I applied for a grant to fund temporary improvements to an empty lot, in hopes of spurring it toward said potential.


5. I now have 12 months to implement my project and document the process via this blog. I hope you’ll join me!