Fellow's Corner: Celebrating Change in NWA

Emily Hackerson

2015 - 2016 American Dream Fellow


I've reached a date of significance: I've crossed the 6 month mark of living the life of a Fellow here in Northwest Arkansas! 6 months may not seem so momentous to those readers less inclined toward serial nomadism than myself. In my world, 2 years in the same place is a triumph not to be under-appreciated. But before you find me fickle, understand that movement has been a constant in my story - more than nearly anything else - and I've discovered it to be a (sometimes exhausting) gift, but one that propels me ever closer to the people, places and ideas that help me make meaning of things. I suppose it's an attraction to change in all its myriad forms.

Perhaps my love of change is what makes me love this region; NWA has had a short but robust relationship with evolution. It is a small place that carries with it the big ambitions of people from increasingly diverse places. Lillian Hellman wrote, "People change and forget to tell one another," which is generally meant as a harbinger of hard times and miscommunication between forces that can't help but evolve. Though Hellman meant to describe people, I believe this also happens to places - the communities we build are constantly shifting, elbowing out space, settling in a bit and then starting the process all over again. Places change, but Northwest Arkansas isn't changing quietly or clandestinely. It is a region that has evolved quickly (and not always easily) but is outspoken and proud of its new shape.

Northwest Arkansas is an unexpected story of strength. While many cities around the world, much bigger and longer-practiced than here, struggle to adapt to migration, NWA is speaking up and leading on. I genuinely believe that as a community, we are testing ideas that will have significance for cities across the United States as migration continues to increase. Though I think we can promise one thing: we won't change and forget to tell anyone. This is work we're proud of and want to share wherever we can.

Cisneros Center for New Americans


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