Looking Ahead

Is it 2010 already? Where is my jetpack?

In my fifteen years in Charlotte, 2009 was easily the most fascinating. (Of course, many of you are hoping 2010 is a little less fascinating — understandably so.)

Right about now, a lot of publications are devoting a lot of space to looking back. We tend not to do that around here, as a magazine or a city. We do offer a few review sessions in this issue—the year’s dumbest deeds, a chronology of how Bank of America got to where it is, concurrent timelines of the city’s urban and suburban growth—but for the most part we look forward.

Richard Maschal examines the brand-new Bechtler Museum of Modern Art from a variety of angles. On pages 22 and 23, he offers a preview of the building and the art. Don’t miss either. On page 37, he examines the museum’s fundraising model (if you think about it, it’s an awful time to launch a cultural institution). The Bechtler’s board and staff intend to raise most of its money from individuals. A lot of local nonprofits have been talking about doing that, but few have really succeeded. The Bechtler’s efforts will be watched closely.

Our cover package explores what I think will be one of the defining issues of this new decade—the growing urban/suburban divide. I’m not talking about commute times and air quality—although that’s important, too. I’m talking about a mind-set. During the aughts, too many people moved to this then-boomtown, settled on the fringes, and reaped the rewards generated by a city they rarely actually visited. At the same time, a growing cadre of urbanites looked upon their suburban brethren with increasing disdain. This is not healthy. How we address this divide will determine what Charlotte actually becomes—a thriving and vital American city or just another bland has-been wannabe.

Finally, we conclude our two-part Future of Good series with a profile of the Arts & Science Council’s new president, Scott Provancher, and an appreciation of Leon and Sandra Levine. Provancher is bringing new energy and ideas to an important nonprofit touchstone, and the Levines have not only been at their most generous during the city’s time of greatest need, they have charted a course for future big givers to follow.

Richard Thurmond

Coming Next Month: Love & Dating in the Queen City • Rasslin’! • The Riverkeeper’s Big Battle