We’re Thankful for Our Community

9 minute read

LeanBack GiveBack Thanksgiving

Seven Things We’re Grateful for about the Innovation Quarter

In the spirit of the season, we’re reflecting on our community—its beauty, strength, diversity, resilience and creativity—and how thankful we are for the people and organizations that make the Innovation Quarter a place for all to live, work and play.

During the COVID-19 pandemic and through ever-changing ways of communicating and connecting, doing business, and simply living life, our partners, collaborators, entrepreneurs, students, and educators have endured, overcame and thrived during a period of hardship and uncertainty.

We’re so grateful for our Innovation Quarter community, and as the holidays approach, we are celebrating and acknowledging its brilliance.

Here’s what we’re thankful for:

1. Art

The Depot Street Mural in the Innovation Quarter is one way iQ promotes diversity and inclusion.

Over the past eighteen months, three murals have been added to the Innovation Quarter’s art collection: the “Depot Street Renaissance” mural, the “#WinstonStrong” mural, and the “Aspire to Inspire” mural.

We’re grateful for the natural beauty and architecture that graces our neighborhood, but the art makes our hearts aflutter. 

We’re thankful for art that educates. Leo Rucker’s “Depot Street Renaissance” mural depicts just a few of the many individuals, businesses and institutions that created the iQ neighborhood’s rich heritage, which was once the epicenter of thriving Black life in Winston-Salem.

“Depot Street Renaissance” is located on 7th Street between Research Parkway and Vine Street.

We’re thankful for art that lifts our spirits. During the summer of 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Jessica Singerman’s “#WinstonStrong” was commissioned to symbolize the diversity of our local community.

This mural is located on Long Branch Trail along Research Parkway near Salem Parkway.

We’re thankful for art that inspires. Georgie Nakima, an alum of Winston-Salem State University, conducted community research to ground the who and what of “Aspire to Inspire” in the Winston-Salem community’s identity and desires.

She integrated this into her art to strengthen the visibility of women and people of color in the Innovation Quarter and enliven pedestrian areas while ensuring ownership within the community and beyond as the Innovation Quarter develops further.

Visit this mural on 5th Street under the Long Branch Trail overpass, and check out the complete collection of art in and around the Innovation Quarter.

2. An Inclusive Community

We’re indebted to iQ community partners who work to reduce disparities by supporting entrepreneurs of color and women entrepreneurs.

As we strive to support, facilitate and amplify opportunities and resources for entrepreneurs as part of our mission, these partners help us build an inclusive community and entrepreneurial ecosystem where all are can live, work and play.

Organizations like the Small Business Center at Forsyth Tech, HUSTLE Winston-Salem, ACCESS Center Winston-Salem, MIXXER Makerspace, Winston Venture Grants and Equilibrium Impact Ventures are disrupting the status quo by helping underrepresented entrepreneurs gain access and support—from securing capital to finding mentors and community and connecting with other women or minority venture capitalists.

In the Innovation Quarter, organizations like Soy Emprendedor, MIXXER, GEMS (Girls Empowered by Math and Science) and the Kennedy Hopkins Scholars program work to ensure that students from grades six through collegiate levels have a summer experience that gets them more than a tan—right here in the Innovation Quarter.

We’re thrilled to be a small part of an entrepreneurial pipeline raising the next generations of diverse leaders in STEM. 

We’re also thankful and proud that iQ community members—from med students to clinical care and research leaders—are working to alleviate health inequities at home and nationally.

Javara Research partners with large organizations in local communities across the country to integrate clinical research into clinical care, transforming healthcare and changing lives by connecting the right patients to the right trials at the right time, including those at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.

In August 2020, Javara began recruiting healthy adults for a Phase 3 clinical research study to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the FDA-approved Moderna vaccine.

The Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity envisions the achievement of health equity by moving scientific discovery to action and actively participating in health disparities research, community outreach and student development.

A collaboration with Javara during the pandemic allowed them to get “deeper insights in terms of reaching an underserved population” and ensure that some of the very first people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the world were a part of the underserved population living and working in and around the Innovation Quarter.

The Downtown Health Plaza in the Innovation Quarter serves the underserved population of East Winston and the surrounding areas as well. With a pharmacy and lab on-site and proximity to the Wake Forest School of Medicine, patients’ health needs can be met in one location, which is especially important for those without access to healthcare because of systemic problems in the system.

Right next door is the Goler Community Garden, where volunteers plant, cultivate and harvest produce year-round, which is then used by Downtown Health Plaza patients.

3. A Vibrant Community

From free “signature” events for the entire community to festivals, restaurants, coffee shops and more, the Innovation Quarter is a place that has helped revitalize Winston-Salem’s downtown area by focusing on local community assets, inspiration and potential, and creating a public space that promotes health, happiness and wellbeing.

We’re thankful for so many opportunities to listen to live music in the Coal Pit or at the annual Gears & Guitar Festival that coincides with the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic.

We’re grateful for opportunities to celebrate Black culture, history and life at the annual Juneteenth Festival.

And we’re beholden to the fitness and wellness experts at F45 Winston-Salem and Lotus Yoga Academy

Of course, we can’t forget the fantastic food and drink options. How lucky are we to be footsteps away from Krankies, Lill Dipper, Fair Witness Fancy Drinks, Alma Mexicana, Cugino Forno, Incendiary Brewing Company, Black Mountain Chocolate, The Butcher’s Block, DeBeen Espresso, Anchor Coffee Co, and the upcoming Six Hundred Degrees. Phew.

Still hungry? There’s always a food truck to serve up lunch at Bailey Park during the workweek.

Check out the complete list of iQ tenants and our calendar of events.

4. A Generous Community

As part of its mission, the Innovation Quarter intentionally shares spatial resources and facilitates in the hopes of strengthening the connection between people and the places we share.

Yet, without the help of a generous community at large, we would fail to build vibrant spaces and places that contribute to our entire community’s health, education, and well-being.

We’re thanksful for partners like LeanBack Soul Food, whose “LeanBack GiveBack Thanksgiving Extravaganza” provides free Thanksgiving dinners to the Winston-Salem community every year in Bailey Park, including entertainment like live music and activities for kids.

We’re grateful for Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina and its volunteers, who provide food to those who need it the most through a drive-through produce pantry located in the Innovation Quarter.

And we’re indebted to the American Red Cross and the donors who take time out of their day to donate blood, especially during the pandemic when supplies are urgently low.

We’re inspired by Soy Emprendedor, who hosts ACCelera, its 2-month accelerator program, in the Innovation Quarter. This program teaches students how to foster an entrepreneurial and innovative way of thinking and work with a local mentor to brainstorm a business idea, develop a concept and build a presentation.

5. Green Space

If spending time outdoors improves your health, we’re thankful for easy access to green space in the Innovation Quarter.

On the Long Branch Trail, you can break a sweat or tour the city, making your way through downtown and all the way to Salem Lake. And if you’re in need of a new bike or a tune-up, Cycle Your City can help get you started on your journey.

In Bailey Park, you can watch a film presented by a/perture cinema, relax with some yoga, enjoy a treat from Black Mountain Chocolate or Lill Dipper, study while gazing at the clouds, or grab lunch from a food truck with friends.

In the Coal Pit, you can experience the best of both worlds, enjoying a beer or pizza in an outdoor space among lush greenery and the remnants of a factory that once ignited our city.

And of course, there is plenty of wildlife out there too, from groundhogs and foxes to salamanders, birds and pollinators.

6. The Entrepreneurs

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What would we be without our entrepreneurs? From the small business owners who help provide free events to the Winston-Salem community during our “signature events” season to the team at Wake Forest Innovations that turns projects developed throughout the Wake Forest academic system into commercially scaled products and services for the public and patients, we’re grateful for teamwork.

We’re thankful for the spirit of collaboration in our community. We’d be amiss to forget our startups here, who are helping Winston-Salem make a name for itself as a mid-size city that knows how to innovate.

As more and more startups call the Innovation Quarter home, we’re thrilled to be a small part of so many initiatives that improve the quality of life in our community and beyond.

7. Inspiring Architecture

A picture paints a thousand words, doesn’t it? How lucky are we?

Want to see how the Innovation Quarter has transformed over the years? Check out these before and afters of Bailey South.

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