As a member of the City Council, I have always made it my mission to improve our community for those that call it home and do everything I can to attract people from other cities. However, undoubtedly, people may move away from Siouxland for work, family, or other reasons. I recently caught up with a friend who had done just that and found her story compelling. It reminded me that sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. So please, enjoy her story and heed her call to explore your own community!
Comfort food(ie) by Jenna Rehnstrom-Liberto
I’ve always had a knack for being a tourist in my own town. It’s a skill I learned as a cub reporter when I was still a student at Morningside University (then Morningside College). And I say skill because you have to cultivate a passion for curiosity about your community, especially if you’ve lived there your whole life.
As a journalist, it’s your job to take viewers, readers, or listeners to places they can’t go. Perhaps even more importantly, to all the places they can go but have yet to discover. And I loved it. I saw it as a free pass to explore the old, the new, the reinvented, the forgotten, the interesting, and the “I didn’t think that was interesting in Siouxland.”
At the beginning of the new year, our family picked up our roots and replanted in South Bend, Indiana, to follow a dream opportunity for my husband, Chris, as a development director for the University of Notre Dame. A lifelong Siouxland girl, my acclimation is still a work in progress. Still, I’m finding comfort in going back to my roots as a passionate explorer of my surroundings – now all unfamiliar and ready to be learned by someone new.
Just as any good journalist (or exhausted mother of three) would do, I started with coffee.
My favorite coffee spots in Siouxland meant conversation with my best friend over a latte (Hardline), a lunch date with my hubby (Pierce Street Coffee Works), a Saturday morning treat with my daughter (High Ground), catching up with an old friend (Stone Bru) and brainstorming with a colleague over espresso (CodeBrew at MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center). These spots (and my other local favorites) evoke feelings as warm and strong as the coffee itself.
Arriving in South Bend in the middle of snowy January, I poured myself into replicating these feelings in my new surroundings. I found a bit of discomfort: navigating new streets, more traffic (so many roundabouts!), and unfamiliar faces. I also found no shortage of new acquaintances willing to take an hour for coffee.
Confident I’d found my favorite local coffee spots (shout out to Cloud Walking Coffee in South Bend!) I moved on to the food. Just a few weeks in our new home, we had a favorite family breakfast spot, a local pizza go-to, and a special date night spot. What I didn’t expect (or worried I wouldn’t find) was a group of neighborhood friends for birthday dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, a new friend to help me explore the best sushi spots, and a farmers market buddy. Food is comforting. Food is a connection. Food is to be explored (and in my opinion, Instagram-ed excessively).
If you’re craving that feeling of experiencing something new right at home, try out that restaurant you drive by every day, but haven’t stopped at yet. Play tourist downtown and wander into someplace you haven’t perused in a while. Explore how special Sioux City is for where it’s been and how it’s growing, and invite someone who’s new to town for coffee at your favorite spot. I promise, they’ll appreciate it.