Why Columbia? People Discuss Their Thoughts on Home

Collected and Edited by Roben Mounger - Assistant Director of Buffalo River Regional Library - Age 59

As a seasoned spokesperson for small-town living, I can vouch that life in Columbia unfolds each day like a captivating movie. The setting is lush and green for much of the year. The characters are rich. Consider the following testimonies for living connected to place.

Stephanie Allen - Farmer, Allenbrooke Farms - Age 35 “Itâ€TMs simple. We had the most important thing—land. So why not farm? We now feed 250 families a week in Columbia, Spring Hill, and Franklin. We call that â€~farmilyâ€TM and we love that they come to the farm to pick up their food each week. We are showing kids the way that their food is grown on beautiful Tennessee land, not on shelves.”

Lisa Butler - Cattle Baroness/Moonshine Maven, Tenn South Distillery - Age 51 “Columbia is a truly kind, compassionate, and caring community. A perk is being close to BNA (Nashville Airport), but Iâ€TMm always happy to come back to my serene home in the country.”

Edward Moore - Administrator, NHC Hillview/Columbia Arts Commission - Age 49 “Columbia has interesting and engaging people, significant historical architecture, frequent gatherings of artists, and a vibrant business climate for healthcare service.” www.summersongwritersnight.com

Rick Clark - Film/TV Music Supervisor and Music Producer - Age 60 “I choose to live in Columbia to be a part of a place where opportunities are everywhere I look. My office is on the Square. I feel plugged into the heart of the town and enjoy watching the entrepreneurial things happening with an influx of musicians, songwriters, record labels, and technology developers. I feel a part of a movement intent on developing new narratives that will benefit Columbia.”

Wanda Turner - Pianist - Age 93 “I moved to Columbia when I was 36. The community took me in. When I lost capabilities in my wrist, I began gardening. Growing vegetables here has been a joy. I particularly loved growing Florida broadleaf, kale, spinach, and mustard greens. My husband would say, â€~Instead of ice cream, Iâ€TMd like another bowl of greens!â€TM Both creating music and gardening fills the soul.”

Wil Evans - President, Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance - Age 32 “My wife and I moved to Columbia three years ago and havenâ€TMt looked back since. There was an immediate feeling of home. We married here, bought our first home, and plan to raise a family here. People need to be paying attention to Columbia; there is an entrepreneurial buzz beginning and it is getting louder and louder.”

Rick Mullen - Local Musician - Age 59 “Weâ€TMve lived here since 1980. Our children were raised here and graduated from Central High School with their friends. All of us went to Columbia State Community College. Weâ€TMve spent countless hours with horses at the Maury County Park, and now as many in a kayak on the Duck River. The mild weather furnishes long gardening seasons compared to our native Minnesota. With the friendships weâ€TMve made, this community is our extended family.”

Sara Evans - Executive Director, Columbia Childrenâ€TMs Museum - Age 34 “You might think that a move to a town the size of Columbia would mean leaving behind the culture, food, and opportunities that only a big city could provide, but Columbia is a hidden gem. We have events that offer well-known songwriters. Weâ€TMre surrounded by farmland and can truly live out the eat-local/farm-to-table movement. And Columbia Childrenâ€TMs Museum currently offers Photo 101 for middle-schoolers and a book club for beginning readers.” www.amuseumcolumbia.org

Andy Marshall - Restaurateur - Age 53 “I love Columbia—so much potential here! The beautiful architecture of its public square, the peace of the Duck River rolling by, and the passion of its residents all add up to a great investment. You can just feel there is something very special happening here.”

Connie Hardin - Community Activist - Age 68 “I would like to mention something about Columbia besides the wonderful people, but itâ€TMs hard to come up with anything better.”

Bob Duncan - Maury County Historian - Age 62 (going on 17!) “When I was younger, I traveled quite a bit—as far as Japan. When that job was complete, I realized that I could live anywhere. Columbia is where I wanted to be—four seasons, lush greenery, polite people, basic values… Yes, people are the same everywhere, but they are affected by their environment. My daily commute is six blocks. I live on Main Street. People wave. Stories are everywhere and we are well documented.”

Cord Martin - Whitthorne Middle School Band Director - Age 27 “I am proud to be from Columbia. I am honored to have the opportunity to use my gift and passion for music to impact the lives of the youth in my hometown. My musical career started here, and I am blessed to be able to help students express themselves through music while providing valuable life skills.”

Chaz Molder - Lawyer - Age 30 “Columbiaâ€TMs charm! Folks have a way of doing things that you donâ€TMt see much anymore. We are growing, we are vibrant, and we are unique. With an appreciation of the past, we anticipate the future.”

Gale Courtney Moore - Swim Instructor/Tutor - Age 55 “I love living in a town that has The Duck, the most bio-diverse river in North America, flowing right through the middle of it. That speaks well for my drinking water. We have incredible places to mountain and road bike, run, hike, canoe, kayak, and swim. How lucky to know my farmers, Sam Kennedy and Bobby McIver, who raise my beef, pork, chicken, and lamb. Every day I am grateful to be close to the beautiful countryside where my fruits and vegetables grow.” columbiacyclingclub.com

Dave Skillington - Director/Treasurer of the Bridle and Saddle Club, Sponsors of Mule Day - Age 74 “Mule Day! 150,000 visitors celebrate our unique agricultural history every spring. Columbia was well known as an agricultural center back in the 1800s. The soil, temperate weather, and beautiful lay of the land drew people. Since mules were the primary power for farming, Columbia became well known as a mule-trading mecca. There were many well-known and honest mule traders who lived here. The heritage continues.” www.muleday.com

Kim Jameson - Live Music Enthusiast - Age 56 “Affordability, possibilities, and opportunities.”

Chris Weninegar - Coffee Roaster/Barista and Co-Owner of Muletown Coffee - Age 31 “Old America is alive in Columbia. We knew life in Nashville and Birmingham, but there is something about a downtown square that fosters more than a place where you buy stuff. We are in business on the Square in Columbia because we have a sense of a start-up community. Downtown, the River Walk, and the Riverside neighborhood where we live are all catalysts for a lifestyle that I did not think possible. I ride my bike to work. I buy my food from the Farmersâ€TM Fresh Market on the River Walk, meat from Sam Kennedy, eggs from Joey and Rory. Itâ€TMs like a European dream and makes Muletown Coffee â€~more than a cup of coffee.â€TM” muletowncoffee.com, joeyandrory.com

Edie Sutter - Teacher - Age 51 “At any given party, a person can be with 25-year-olds as well as 75-year-olds. I know no other community that offers quite the same opportunity.”

Kevin Sport - Singer/Songwriter/TV Host - Age 35 “Columbia—I love the people and I love the atmosphere! Anyone who hasnâ€TMt strolled around the downtown square is missing a simple life enjoyment. Somehow Columbia has managed to keep that nostalgic feeling alive while moving forward. See all at the Southern Fried Festival.” www.southernfriedfest.com

Beth Gilbert - Needle Art Teacher/Owner of the Needle Nest and Girl Scout Leader - Age 49 “Columbia has a reputation as a sleepy community outside of Nashville, but it is an artisanâ€TMs dream. I am a nurse by trade, but like so many who have another love—musicians, plein air painters, gardeners, weavers, and spinners—Columbia is steady inspiration. And it is an amazing place to raise children.”

Kim Hayes - Co-Owner of Nexpiria - Age 47 “Since I grew up in a huge city, Los Angeles, I view Columbia as a sort of Mayberry. The historic downtown has an amazing square with tons of potential for startups and entrepreneurs. The historic housing is beautiful and incredibly affordable. Walking to the Farmersâ€TM Fresh Market or Riverfront Park is our favorite thing to do, but if you have not been on the Duck River, you are missing one of the most beautiful features of the city. The river is great for kayaking and fishing and changes dramatically from one end of the county to the other.”

Chris Poynter - Executive Director/CPO of the Boys and Girls Club of Maury County - Age 32 “When I received my masterâ€TMs degree from Austin Peay, I had a growing urge to return home to Columbia. I wanted to be a part of the solution versus sitting back and complaining. I wanted to give back in the same way so many gave to me. Columbia, Tennessee, helped shape me into the person I am today. I thank God for it.”

Jaymi Ray - Artisan Baker - Age 29 “I prefer the small-town charm of a town like Columbia. Still we have wonderful access to the city. The Polk Home and Museum are hidden historic treasures. The tours are rich. The Polk Garden is like a secret garden and is open annually to the public.” www.jameskpolk.com

Andy Crichton - Entrepreneur/Small-Town Jam Proprietor - Age 43 “My family and I are blessed by a deep heritage in the beautiful countryside. By starting STJ Entertainment, we have been able to gather and showcase the areaâ€TMs musical talents in that outdoor setting.” smalltownjam.com

Walter Manning - Farmer - Age 71 “I moved to this area after I retired. I find Tennessee people to be out of this world! As a vendor at the Columbia Farmersâ€TM Fresh Market, I have learned a lot from the other farmers. They are the most helpful individuals and will happily volunteer information when it comes to chickens or growing vegetables. I do not use herbicides or insecticides. My eggs are country eggs. The camaraderie at the market is wonderful.” columbiafarmersfreshmarket.com

Marilia Gerges - Director of Distance Education and University Services at Columbia State Community College, ageless “So many things to like about Columbia—a great place for children, beautiful parks and hiking trails, vineyards, and a wonderful community college!” www.columbiastate.com

[use bio from summer issue – milk story]