Opinion

A cool and quirky city

Three-year-old Emma Brooks (center) is all dressed up and running at the Susan G. Komen Triangle Race for the Cure at The Frontier in Durham’s Research Triangle Park Saturday.
Three-year-old Emma Brooks (center) is all dressed up and running at the Susan G. Komen Triangle Race for the Cure at The Frontier in Durham’s Research Triangle Park Saturday. The Herald-Sun

One of the endearing aspects of Durham circa 2017 is that we can be so many things.

We’re a magnet for young, creative entrepreneurs. We are an internationally recognized center of education, research and medicine. We tackle complicated, divisive social issues of class, race and gender. We are home to national championship teams in high-visibility sports. We have a performing arts center and museums that are the envy of many similar-sized cities.

At the same time, we are funky and gritty. We can embrace the offbeat and even the eccentric. Think about the annual Beaver Queen Pageant. Or our Mardi Gras parade featuring such staples as the Bulltown Strutters or the Scrap Exchange contingent. And remember Marry Durham?

So it seems perfectly natural that the Durham Armory would be the site Sunday of GeekCraft Expo RDU. To give some idea of the company it puts us in, the expos also are held in Seattle, Brooklyn; Madison, Wisconsin; and Portland, Oregon.

Kimberly Matsuzaki and Daniel Way, two of its creators, talked with The Herald-Sun’s Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan last week about the event they describe as “Etsy meets Comicon.” Their goal has been to meld the vibe of a comic convention with somewhat geeky crafts like, as Vaughan described them, “a wooden cutting board depicting a Tetris game or a necklace made with a 20-sided die.”

The focus is very intentional. “I’m a geek and I want this handmade stuff, not just a T-shirt from Target that everyone has,” Matsuzaki said.

That sounds pretty Durham to us.

This is also a city that can show its generosity in many ways, one of which was on display last weekend.

Thousands of runners and walkers converged on the Research Triangle Park last Saturday for the Susan G. Komen Triangle Race for the Cure. This was the second year the race, normally held in Raleigh, was based at The Frontier in RTP. The race raised roughly $1 million to support cancer research, and 75 percent of that stays in the community. Twenty-five percent helps support Komen’s national research program.

It also serves as mutual moral support. “It’s a day to pause and celebrate,” said Kate Payne, 31, who had breast cancer surgery last year. “To come out one day and see everyone in one place working to get rid of it and see how far we’ve come, to see survivors of 30-plus years, it’s incredible.”

Temperatures were in the low 50s at race time, giving a two-edged meaning to Executive Director Pam Kohl’s question to the crowd:

“Did we deliver on the coolest race ever?”

And in what clearly is one of the coolest cities.

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