I have always loved Charlotte. Even when I hated it, I loved it.
Running back and forth, living with one foot in Ohio and another in North Carolina over the last six years was pretty difficult.
My parents moved our family to Charlotte in 2012, right before my last year of high school, and I couldn't wait to get out. But as I spent more and more time in the Queen City, I began to fall in love.
When I finished my internship at Creative Loafing at the end of summer 2016, it was a bittersweet moment. On one hand, I was ready to go back to Ohio University and start my last year of college.
On the other, I had learned so much from then-editor Anita Overcash and I wanted to stay in Charlotte. I had grown to love the city even more as I discovered its history, its people, its culture and the communities in which all of those things are fostered.
But it was not in the cards for me to return to Charlotte immediately after graduation. I went to Columbus, began settling myself down and started working.
Recently, when I was presented the opportunity to return to CL — this time as an associate editor — I dropped everything I had in Ohio and left.
Readers may not have heard of me yet in the rumble-tumble of the different scenes on which we report. I've been in the background for the past month, quietly toiling away on this week's cover story in which I delve into the history of labor unions, Labor Day and the plight of the working class in Charlotte.
So now that I have a minute, I'd like to formally introduce myself.
I'm Courtney Mihocik, and I'm here to serve our community.
It's hard to express how excited I am to be back in Charlotte, rediscovering everything about the city in my two-year absence.
With editor-in-chief Ryan Pitkin, I hope to shed light on the issues that Charlotte's residents face and shine a light on the musicians, artists, activists, restaurateurs, brewers and other people making waves of change.
It's so critical in this country's dark period of lies, put-downs and division that we also cultivate truth, support and unity in our communities.
I know that as journalists, we have a duty to write the truth and to include everyone in Charlotte's narrative.
For my first cover story back at CL, I wanted to ensure that I talked to as many people as possible and gathered as much information as I could about the problems that Charlotte's laborers are facing today — problems that occur despite the sacrifices that strikers made nearly 100 years ago to prevent harmful practices in the workplace.
I wanted to know what was being done to address these issues and hopefully see the new labor movement make headway.
Recently, I had the opportunity to see the community in action.
In a church annex on Monroe Road, about 35 people gathered for the first part of a three-part course about the long history of economic inequality in America and how it affects our workers.
Using Les Leopold's Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice, community organizers and leaders began the lesson with a look into the successful movements of our past. Union organizing, women's suffrage, labor strikes, Freedom Summer, Black Power and women's and gay and lesbian liberation all had the same thing in common when they were at the height of their power.
Unity. Solidarity. Resistance.
It is with these words in mind that I saw how powerful Charlotte's people can be if we make a promise to respect, support and listen to one another.
When our community unites under a common mission to enrich and better the lives of our neighbors, friends and coworkers, amazing change can happen.
I invite anyone and everyone to reach out to me and help me become aware of other issues that our community is facing and the groups that are fighting against these problems.
And to reiterate what Pitkin wrote in his editor's note in our issue on August 9, tell me about the the artists, musicians, artisans, songwriters, activists, advocates and organizers that deserve their voice to be heard throughout the community.
There's a lot for me to learn, but I am enthusiastic to see what Charlotte has for me to discover and to see how the community grows in culture, unity and strength.
If you see me around town, come up and say "Hello." I can't wait to meet you.