A diverse downtown


Veteran and street performer Nathan Hardesty preforms on the corner of 9th St. & Broadway. He plays the guitar, and came to Columbia from St. Louis in search of a new audience. Hardesty says that happiness is wherever we can find it, but sometimes you can just find it where you are standing, if you choose to. Photo by George Frey / Bearing News

George Frey

The city of Columbia was ranked in 2013 as the number four out of 10 best college towns, according to livability.com, “[Columbia] retains an artsy vibe that is equal parts to college quirk, Midwestern culture, and progressive innovation.”
But what keeps this city interesting, is the people who live in it. Each resident adds his or her own unique outlook on life to create a mosaic of diversity in its purest form and keep this city as a beacon of arts, culture and acceptance in the state of Missouri.
Peace Nook, a small underground (literally) bookstore and gift shop located on Broadway and 8th Street, is an example of the accepting nature of the city, and it’s progressive attitudes.
“Peace Nook is a non-profit store, so all the funding goes to sustainable education, and it funds all the events that Peace Works puts on,” University of Missouri student activist and employee Hayley Gronniger said. “I really wanted to be part of Peace Nook because the environment is really important to me, and I am able to stand up for what I believe in by working here, and I don’t have to work for any corporations.”
The pure passion of the residents of Columbia is astounding, and local businesses are a manifestation of this passion. Passion of these artisans and merchants is what keeps these businesses open, and there is perhaps a good example of this passion at work than The Uprise Bakery located on Hitt St.
“There’s a lot of authentic passion [at Uprise],” employee Lorenzo Trabue said, “like all the bakers like to bake, and all the baristas love coffee. A record shop customer I know who comes in for example, literally, has hundreds of records.”
Overall, what drives passion however, is pure enjoyment, and happiness. And this could be applied to no matter what one’s profession is in life.
“I’m a veteran, I’ve been in town a few days, but I’m originally from St. Louis,” street performer Nathan Hardesty said. “I just figured I’d check out a new spot and make a few people smile. We got a lot to be grateful for, there’s a lot of people struggling in this world. Existentially you can achieve happiness standing where you’re at, it just depends on your ability to stay mindful, ground yourself in the present moment.”
What makes Downtown Columbia unique to you?
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