One of the best outcomes from the launch of Clutch MOV is that we, as a staff, and you, as readers, have been introduced to so many amazing members of our community. With each story or interview, we meet local residents who are making a difference in their own unique way, whether they are a business owner, a student, an artist or craftsman, or a dedicated volunteer. Their stories inspire us and encourage us to learn more about everyone with whom we come in contact. Each of us has a different perspective on what it means to live and love life here in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

To share more of these perspectives, we are excited to launch a new series: Becoming Local. In each installment, we will interview a local resident on what becoming local means to them. What brought them to the MOV? What do they enjoy about living on the northern edge of Appalachia, and what makes it difficult?

To kick things off, I will share a little bit of my own story. Although I have called Marietta home for almost twenty years now, I was not born and raised in the Mid-Ohio Valley. My family relocated in 2000 when my father found a new job in the region, moving from a rural town in the northeastern corner of Ohio. We traded in a century old farmhouse with ten acres of horse pasture and farmland for a log home overlooking the Muskingum River Valley and the distant lights of Lowell. I graduated from Marietta High School in 2007, eager to head off to college and explore the world. After spending a semester abroad and graduating from Miami University in 2011 with a degree in Architecture, I settled into big city life as a designer in Cincinnati.

Me, in the doorway of my parent’s new home

My return to the Mid-Ohio Valley was not planned or expected. Only seven months after graduation, my parent’s lost their home in a fire. I decided to move back to Marietta to help my family manage the design and rebuild of their home, expecting to leave again after six or eight months to begin a new chapter in Seattle, WA.

Six and a half years later, here I am.

My desire to move lessened with each new person I met. In high school, I lived in a social bubble, as most high schoolers do. But moving back and joining the local workforce gave me an opportunity to meet people I would have otherwise never met. I learned about the growing local art scene, plans for downtown revitalization, and new events. I heard stories about the cool new restaurant opening up across town, the talented florist, and little free libraries. I recognized an opportunity to get involved in these communities on the verge of leveling up – and I realized that this opportunity was unique, not easily found in a bigger city. Here and now I had a chance to do something special.

I chose to stay – not because the Mid-Ohio Valley had everything I loved about big city life in Seattle or Cincinnati, but because I felt as though I could be a part of the Mid-Ohio Valley coming into its own, and invest in a community that could use me. (Let’s be honest, Seattle could care less that I never settled down on Capitol Hill. I’m just one less person in line at the corner Starbucks.)

Over the past six years, I have joined service organizations, downtown revitalization efforts, and a quiet neighborhood in Reno. I’ve fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with the cities I couldn’t wait to escape from only a few years prior, drawn in by the golden sunsets over the river and the excitement of a region re-inventing itself. Although I occasionally miss the diversity of dining options, I never miss the traffic or the noise of urban living. Instead, I relish the colonial brick streets and the fact that the baristas at Jeremiah’s always know exactly what I’m going to order. (Jeremiah mocha with soy)

I share my story not to talk about myself – I am much more comfortable hiding behind the scenes, truth be told. I share my story because it is entwined with that of Clutch MOV, and it is likely different from yours. In the coming weeks, we will share stories from members of our staff and the community. If you would like to share your story of becoming local, let us know! We’d love to get to know you.