The days of Columbus, Magellan and the great explorers of the uncharted world are long gone… now all you have to do to see virtually anything on earth is pull your phone out of your pocket and tap the Google app. Sadly, it seems that all of our regions, our country and our planet have been carefully mapped and detailed, leaving little room to truly discover anything new from a geographic perspective.
Don’t fret all you curious explorers, there is a whole new world of discovery just waiting for your adventurous spirit!
If there is anything I have learned from 16 months of continued exploration across New York State, it’s that our communities, our cities, our worlds are changing very quickly! The look and feel of a town or a city, the events that happen there, the tangible vibe in the people you speak to can change faster than ever before as the internet and social media allow us to share ideas, form movements and create a voice in an instant. If you think you know something about an area but haven’t been there in a while, I beg you to explore it again… I bet you good money you’ll see something, or perhaps a lot of things that are new!
In my early 20s, I visited Binghamton, New York many times. I remember seeing the shadow of a formally prosperous city, crumbling in structure and attitude. It was a town struggling just to stay afloat, to say nothing about a renaissance!
In 2015, about 10 years after my last visit, I returned to Binghamton and found the city on the positive side of a very different perspective. A colorful nightlife, an arts scene that was quickly flourishing, new college housing being built downtown… there was so much going on.
I felt honored to tell the story of yet another New York city on the rise. In just ten years, my “re-exploration” led me to a completely different view of Binghamton. I thought I knew what this town was about, but I really had no idea until I experienced it again!
I heard the same story when I visited Troy, New York. The amazingly vibrant restaurant, bar and retail experience there begged me to ask the question of the residents I spoke to why Troy wasn’t better known as a destination in Upstate New York. The answer was always the same, “because none of this was here 5 years ago.” In just a few years, Troy has gone from a city in trouble to a thriving pillar of urban revival.
The speed with which our society moves, the changes that can happen in any given area in a short period of time… these are why we all need to put our explorer hats back on and realize that our world is far from stagnant. Our communities are constantly evolving, begging for us to see them again for the first time. Grab a bike or put on your walking shoes and travel somewhere you think you know… it might just surprise you.