10 Reasons I’m Glad I Don’t Live in Lynchburg, VA

If you are a regular reader or subscriber to my blog, please forgive me for this post which is very off-topic from my usual musings. You may want to skip it.

Lynchburg-vaI’ve wanted to write this post for a very long time.

Certainly, I’ve wanted to write it since I left Lynchburg, but I also wanted to write it while I lived there, because many of these things were apparent to me even then.

But I didn’t.  For a variety of reasons:

When I owned a business there, I didn’t want to alienate my customers.

Even after I moved, I didn’t want to offend the many friends I have who still live there. 

Also, I didn’t want to be viewed as spitting in the face of a city that was so formative (for better or worse) in shaping who I am today, because I like who I am.

Yet, I lived there roughly from 1998 until 2013, so I’d like to think fifteen years is enough time to have formed a solid and well-rounded opinion of the place.  And now that I’ve been away from it for about a year, I’d like to think I’ve had enough time to round out some of the rough edges in my thinking that were probably more about me than anything else.

I’m willing to believe there are many reasons one might want to live in Lynchburg.  I say that sincerely.  But the list that follows doesn’t contain any of them.

In addition to thinking to myself at least once weekly that I’m glad I live in where I do now, I must at least that often think to myself, “I’m so glad I don’t live in Lynchburg.”

Here are 10 reasons why.

family-life-kids-parents1.  “It’s a great place to raise kids.”

This is the sine qua non of Lynchburg lovers far and away.  It’s a phrase found on the lips of almost anyone reasoning with a colleague or friend who is considering a move there.

But of course, the accuracy of this claim all depends on what you’d like your kids to be raised around.

When I asked myself what kind of environment I wanted my children to be raised in, I came up with the following:

  • Walkability: Whenever someone used to ask me how long it took to get from one point in Lynchburg to another, I used to joke, “It’s 20 minutes to anywhere, and you can’t walk.”  This is true, and it’s at least partially due to the topography.  Lynchburg is known as “The Hill City,” and you just can’t get anywhere without having to go over the river, through the woods, and up some stinking hill. Even when two points aren’t that far apart in terms of a straight line, there is no straight line between them.  Lynchburg is a city that would benefit immensely from a local, metropolitan rail system that connects its various business centers, but there’s nothing like that in the works that I ever heard of.  Every time I brought it up with locals in conversation they looked at me like I was from outer space.
  • Cultural Diversity: Lynchburg possesses some cursory sense of racial diversity, being comprised of 63% Caucasian residents, 29.3% African American, 3% Hispanic or Latino, 2.5% Asian, and less than one percent of other races (as of the 2010 census).  That more or less jibes with who you’re likely to see walking down the street at any given time.  But there is no true cultural diversity at large to speak of, at least not any that’s celebrated.  Lynchburg is a place I experienced as being indifferent to diversity at best, and threatened by it at worst, instead tending to prize homogeny.
  • Excellence: See “Okay for Lynchburg” below
  • True charity: I’m a Midwesterner at the heart, I’ll confess.  I grew up in an area where you knew where you stood with someone based on how they treated you in-person.  This is not to say that Midwesterners are openly hostile, per se, but they certainly aren’t false – what you see is what you get.  But in Lynchburg, and in the South at large, I didn’t always have that sense.

So, Lynchburg might be a great place to raise kids, but probably not if you hold any of the above in high regard.

Downtown Lynchburg2.  “It’s got a great downtown!”

As a former Lynchburg business owner, I chose deliberately to locate in Lynchburg’s downtown.  As a former manufacturing and textile center, it has some great-looking old buildings that are just dying for someone to renovate.  While there was a great deal of “talk” about re-building downtown, when I left in 2013, it just wasn’t happening, though I’m sure many would be willing to go on record stating the opposite.

The truth is that while many people were willing to “get” downtown, the city struggled to offer them any reason to “stay.”  A few of my friends are helping to change that reality (Abe Loper’s White Hart and Hailey Pavao’s Pastiche at Main, for example).  The main thing downtown Lynchburg needed to help form a true walkable community was a grocery store, and apparently that too is a problem that’s been rectified with the advent of Grassroots Local Market.

But still, there is no way to truly grow downtown Lynchburg if everyone keeps ducking their heads in the sand and saying it’s better than it is.  There are many businesses there, but in terms of a true downtown experience, it’s wanting by a large margin, particularly in terms of nightlife.   When I lived there, my wife and I made an absolute promise to ourselves to escape to neighboring Roanoke and Charlottesville at least once a month to experience real downtown living – we weren’t alone.

At least one reason why there is so little nightlife in downtown Lynchburg (and Lynchburg and Virginia as a whole) is because of the antiquated “food to alcohol ratio” rule that even in its current form is little more than an altered form of ProhibitionAt current, “food sales and nonalcoholic beverage sales have to be 45 percent of the total of food plus mixed beverages sales.”  In other words, if you sell $10,000/week in food and mixed beverages, you also have to sell $4500/week over and above that amount in food and non-alcoholic beverages.  Because, you know, selling booze is bad.

It’s hard to get a nightlife (one thing downtown is sorely missing) when you’ve got to be sure they’re shoveling down the food as well, and Lynchburg certainly doesn’t need any help in that arena.

3. “Okay for Lynchburg”

Some of the above new businesses being rather large exceptions, one of the most frustrating aspects of being a patron to the various and sundry businesses in Lynchburg what was I came to refer to as “the Lynchburg disease.”  During my time there, three of four businesses had great ideas, even novel ones.  But it was like they got about half of the way into their idea and said, “Eh, this is good enough.”

syscoI’m talking about things like swanky logos and furniture for cafes but ambience stifled by fluorescent lighting and wood paneled walls.  Or innovative and unique restaurants with kitchens stocked by Sysco Foods, the third-largest non-oil based company in the US, and the generic food wholesaler that supplies chain restaurants with “25-pound bags of rice, half-gallons of salsa, boxes of plastic gloves, beer mugs, dish-washing detergent, not to mention 1,900 different fresh and frozen chicken products.”

As a business owner, I suspect the interruption in fully executing ideas was likely driven by the proverbial bottom line.  But in a town where new businesses opened and shut their doors before anyone even knew they existed, it just doesn’t add up.

When I made this criticism while living in Lynchburg, well-meaning folks used to tell me, “Well, that place is okay…for Lynchburg.”  But as long as Lynchburg holds itself to a standard of excellence that’s sub-par when contrasted with the cities it hopes to lure young professionals away from, it’s not gonna work.

4.  Dirty is the new cool

dirty-hipster-in-a-swans-shirtListen, Lynchburg hipsters – dirty is not the new cool.  I’m all for expressing yourself, but seriously, you can only overcome body odor with patchouli so much, and it won’t hurt you to trim your beard and/or mane now and again.  There were more than a few joints at which I was somewhat averse to being a patron for fear I’d find a 12-inch long hair in my food.

And personal hygiene aside, this issue sometimes extended to the businesses themselves.   Without naming names, there were a few places I stayed away from literally because they were just plain dirty.  Not like “gross” dirty with cock-roaches and so forth.  More like big fat dust-bunnies staring at me from window sills and various and sundry faux antiques. These weren’t the kind of dust bunnies that got there overnight either.

Even (and perhaps more so) here in St. Louis where we’ve relocated, hipsterdom abounds.  Scarce is there an evening out with friends where I’m not surrounded by handlebar mustaches, chest length beards, and horn-rimmed glasses.   This much is true of Lynchburg as well, and it is perhaps a sign of youthfulness more than anything else.  You might even say it’s a good thing.  So the problem isn’t hipsters, it’s just plain old cleanliness.  Lynchburg can do better than this.

5.  Generic Hell

Around 2009, a friend of mine from Nashville was driving through Virginia en route to see his sister in Richmond.  We decided he should stop in Lynchburg for a visit.  He was well-equipped with GPS, so we didn’t feel any particular need to give him directions beyond an address to plug in.

When he got into Lynchburg, he accidentally got off at the wrong exit.  He called and was genuinely frantic.

walmart“What is this place?!!” he said.  “It’s like – ”

He paused, searching for the right words.

“It’s like generic hell down here!!!”

He was referring, of course, to the sprawling nightmare Lynchburgers know as Wards Road, complete with massive signs, a ridiculous amount of traffic, and every big box store you never wanted to see alongside fast food and chain restaurants galore.

When I came to Lynchburg, most of Wards Road was still green.  I’m no tree-hugger and I’m all for progress, but I often remarked how little Lynchburg seemed improved by the massive developments there.

Consider by contrast National Geographic’s happiest place in the US – San Luis Obispo, California.

“They made the decision as a city, rather than making the city optimal for commerce, to make it optimal for quality of life. It used to be a forest of signs. Signs beget more signs. They instead limited the size of signs and put the resources into aesthetics. They outlawed fast-food drive-throughs so you don’t have idling cars polluting the air, it’s harder for people to eat fast food. They were the first place in the world to outlaw smoking in bars and restaurants, so as a result you have about the lowest rate of smoking in the country.  You can stand any place in San Luis Obispo, a city of about a quarter of a million people, and look around and see green. They have zoned it such that there’s no building beyond a certain point, so everybody has access to green space, which we know lowers stress levels, and has access to recreation.”

Kinda makes you think, don’t it?

6.  The drivers.  Oh…my…gosh…the drivers.

Even Lynchburgers joke about how poor Lynchburg drivers are.  My two favorite Lynchburg driver moves are as follows.  See if you can relate:

bad-drivingThe “U-Turns are Unacceptable” Maneuver

I’m driving in the left hand lane.  The person in front of me is also driving in the left hand lane, but apparently realizes that he/she needs to be in the right hand turn lane which is coming up very quickly.  So quickly, as a matter of fact, there is no way he/she will actually be able to get over in time to make the turn.  Conventional thinking in any other city would be to say, “Well, it looks like I missed the turn.  I’ll have to drive up a bit and then make a u-turn to circle back around.”  Instead, in Lynchburg, said driver turns on the right-turn signal, applies the brake and stops in the middle of the road, waiting for a driver to let them in.  I (and all of the traffic behind me) screech to a halt, either resulting in a pile-up or averting it by a far too narrow margin.  Lord help you if you honk in dismay. 

The “I’m Just Being Courteous” Maneuver

Perhaps related to the above, this one is brought on by some of that good, ol’ Southern hospitality I mentioned earlier.  Whenever another driver makes an egregious driving mistake at the peril of everyone around (and behind) them, other drivers are more than happy to accommodate by making their own egregious errors, thereby making everyone around (and behind) them equally at risk for a massive auto collision.  This is also known as the “Me and the driver behind me are already pulled out into oncoming traffic and have the right of way but I have decided to allow other cars to go ahead of me” maneuver.

Suffice it to say that now, when I much more infrequently see someone committing one of these traffic violations, I’ll often poke my wife and say, “Look – they’re pulling a Lynchburg.”

7.  Liberty vs. Lynchburg

If you live in Lynchburg very long and are remotely in touch with local politics, you’ll discover very quickly that there is ongoing antagonism between Liberty University and the the city.  Sure, many folks will downplay this, but it’s really there, in everything from banter among business-owners about the “Liberty kids” to decision making in City Council.

Liberty University MonogramThe general thrust of the argument is that Liberty often forgets it resides in “Lynchburg” not “Libertyburg,” and on the opposite side that many city folks neglect to realize (much less operationalize) that a massive portion of the commerce and growth in Lynchburg, including the development of new businesses and the provision of a segment of the workforce, is all but entirely a result of Liberty’s presence.  And it can get really ugly on both sides.

However, this isn’t to say that there aren’t some voices in the mix that are trying to work on this, and I’m proud to say I know many on both sides of the coin who genuinely want a peaceable co-existence.

But man, does this debate get old.

8.  Mexican Food

mexican foodI’m relatively certain I must have some genuine Mexican blood in my family line, but my father’s work on plotting our family tree (which dates all the way back to the 1800’s) hasn’t revealed this to be true.  I am convinced I could eat Mexican food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 5 of 7 days a week.  Even if it was really crappy.

In Lynchburg, it is.  (I did really enjoy La Tacqueria, however, as an exception.)

Most of what passes for Mexican food in Lynchburg is in fact “Tex-Mex.”  This is a fact my wife, who hails from San Diego, California, reminded me on countless occasions while aghast at what was passing for a fish taco.

But, Lynchburg is no real exception there – most of the US’s Mexican restaurants are no different.  So, Tex-Mex is fine for me, so long as you use the right ingredients.

I hate to bring this up again, but I saw more than one of Lynchburg’s Mexican joints with a Sysco Foods truck backed up to the kitchen door.  This is fine, if you want your Mexican food to have the same re-heated taste as Applebee’s (Lynchburg has two), The Olive Garden, O’Charley’s, TGIFriday’s, etc.  I don’t.

I can’t count how many times, against my own better judgment, I ate at a Lynchburg Mexican restaurant only to leave feeling like I had a sack of wet rags in my stomach.

9.  “The Mason-Dixon Line”

mason-dixon line mapI have no trouble with the recognition of history in our midst by way of landmarks and monuments and so forth.  But my time in Lynchburg, and indeed, throughout most of Virginia, was permeated with people talking about the Civil War like it happened the day before yesterday.  This is true to the extent that phrases like “south of the Mason-Dixon Line” are tossed around as regular expressions of geographical orientation.

I understand that this is as much a cultural reality as anything else, and that folks from Lynchburg and surrounding parts aren’t at fault, per se, for invoking this kind of language.

But at worst, one could argue that this not so much a celebration of history as it is a fixation, and one that is experienced as a pining away for yesteryear – a yesteryear when atrocities were committed against people of color no less.

Friends and I would often remark at what a breath of fresh air it was to drive northward (to D.C., for example) where people seemed to have a more present-day conception of their relationships to geography and one another.

10. Christian Culture

christian cultureMy largest struggle while living in Lynchburg, and perhaps, the only one of these that I take very seriously, was undoubtedly with what has come to be termed as “Christian culture.”  It is termed thusly in an effort to avoid conflating it with a related, but entirely different (and often at odds) phenomenon – Christianity itself.  This reality has been adeptly parodied by a massively popular internet site,Stuff Christian Culture Likes.

In Lynchburg, much of what is passed off as Christianity is actually an expression of culture, impacted largely by political conservatism and nationalism.  As a card-carrying Christian, I always felt sad when I experienced people confusing one for the other.  Ironically, Christian culture usually impedes the work of Christ rather than exemplifying it.

*** 

So, there’s my list.

If you live in Lynchburg, and love it, don’t hate me!  I hope you could laugh at at least a few of these.

I don’t mean to poke fun mean-spiritedly or to cause injury.  I’m just talking about my experience.  And again, I met so many people in Lynchburg that changed my life I would be remiss not to mention it a second time.

Besides, I wasn’t a native Lynchburger, much less a native Southerner, so I’m willing to believe that at some level I’ll never fully get how things were during my time there.

I think I’m okay with that.  Maybe even proud.

And for now, I’m very happy not to live there.

Click Here to Get New Posts Via Email Author’s Note (4/23/14): Many of Lynchburg’s finest citizens have responded below, either loving or hating this blog (and me). If you’d like to get a good sense of the local color, please have a read. Author’s Note (4/23/14): Ryan George, a Lynchburger, wrote a great follow-up to this piece rebutting what I’ve said here. He took the liberty of self-promoting it in the comment box below, but I figured, why not feature it? Click here to read it! Final Author’s Note: Comments on this post have now been closed as it seems just about everything there is to say on this subject (for and against) has been said. Thanks to all who participated in a lively discussion, and thank you all for reading!
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Author: Ryan Thomas Neace

Ryan Thomas Neace is a counselor, professor, husband, and daddy. Please contact him for counseling via skype or in-person at ryan@changeincorporated.org.

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  • Sara

    These could be applied to many places. St. Louis County (not St. Louis City County) sounds a lot like Lynchburg! the point about the two-faced Southerners (yeah, I said it) is so true.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Hahahaa.

  • Jnegroni

    I agree with so much on this list that I feel plagiarized.

    Strangely, however, I find myself defending Lynchburg anyway when it comes up in conversation. I’m pretty much a native (lived here since I was 5) and have experienced a lot of what you talked about, but the funny irony is that some of Lynchburg’s biggest detractors are the ones who live in it.

    As a city that has been regarded as one of the “happiest” places to live, Lynchburg definitely has a lot to improve on, but I will admit that it’s steadily improving, even in the year since you left. I actually spent about 4 hours downtown on Saturday without getting bored, even managing to check out Pastiche for the first time.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      “the funny irony is that some of Lynchburg’s biggest detractors are the ones who live in it.” I know what you mean. I tried not to be like that when I was there, but there is a line (not even that fine of one) between naysayery and legitimate criticism and call to action. it was frustrating watching people automatically dismiss detractors as being the former when sometimes they were really the latter.

      i don’t doubt that Lynchburg will continue to improve. Thanks for reading!

  • Melanie Copenhaver

    I lived there for 35 consecutive years. I get it.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Ah, Melanie. I miss you!

  • Byron Minnick

    This article is spot on. Most of these reasons are why I despised living there. I lived in Lynchburg for the first 20 years of my life. I have lived in Richmond for the past 8 years. It is amazing how much of a difference 120 miles can make! It is like a whole other world… it really is.

    You can talk about people “wanting to renovate and revitalize downtown Lynchburg” all day long, but the truth is, people there are perfectly content with the way things are. There is no significant push towards change there… Some people will try new restaurants, but largely, most people there would rather wait 2 hours to be seated at TGI Fridays or Olive Garden, than to try something original and new…

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for your comment Byron!

    • TimothyOnline

      Thankfully, as the old guard passes away, new brew-pubs and other restaurants are moving into the area and are doing well. It has been too long.

  • I love living in lynchburg for many reasons, but you sure hit the nail on the head about Walkability. I used to live in Blacksburg and ride a bike everywhere. You cannot do this in Lynchburg and frankly it makes me sad.

    I know Liberty means well, but I do see a very big dichotomy between “Lynchburgians” and “Liberty-affiliates”. As a graduate of LU myself, I find it really sad when I hear stories of my non-LU attending coworkers who are tired of being harassed by students who try and give them tracks and/or “save” them. Supposedly an LU class makes students go out and “minister” to the general populace as an assignment. This is wrong and frustrates the Lynchburg dwellers who want to be left alone to drink their coffee, and not be religiously harassed every second of the day.

    Good article. I wonder, as a followup, is there anything you liked about living here? 🙂

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for your comment, Carolynn. I can appreciate everything you’ve said here. There are a few things I enjoyed. As much as I poked at the fixation on history, I did enjoy things like Monticello. I also enjoyed being close to Washington, D.C. and old-town Alexandria, as well as Baltimore. More intangibly, I was very impacted by many good people at both Liberty and Lynchburg, and it would be wrong to consider the 10 things I listed here as somehow diminishing that reality. I could think there are many beautiful areas of central Virginia, though being from the plains I honestly felt claustrophobic by the enclosing mountains for a good bit of my first 5 or so years there.

  • Kevin Christian

    As by most that see this I’m offended…..Luckily , People like you who hold yourself in such a high regard will never truly be happy. You seem to be a bitter and sad person…… Good luck to you

    • Danielle Holmes

      Most of the people who read this were not offended, just you.

      • Ryan Thomas Neace

        Thanks for your support, Danielle! And thanks for reading!

      • Tera Reed

        I thought this was fabulous and totally accurate. People get offended by things that affect them directly. If this offends them then the problem is internal. Im sure some of them are exactly like the type of people you speak about. If they werent why would they be offended? Im certainly not offended by things not spoken to me directly or things that dont pertain to me…are you?

        • Ryan Thomas Neace

          Tera,
          Thanks for commenting!

    • Melie Guzek

      I agree with Danielle, and have to say I loathe living here but have no other choice until I graduate. However, I have been making frequent trips to a small town in Tennessee ever since a vacation there, and I can tell you how wrong you are. I am overjoyed and free feeling there, it truly feels like home. No bitterness or sadness by miles. There is true happiness, it’s just not in Lynchburg.

      • Ryan Thomas Neace

        Melie – I’m not sure what you believe I was wrong about, but okay! Thanks for reading!

        • Melie Guzek

          I was replying to Kevin Christian. I found your article accurate and entertaining, nothing wrong at all!

          • Ryan Thomas Neace

            DOH. :-/

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Kevin – I’m sorry you were offended. Thanks for reading!

      • Kevin Christian

        Just not much on ppl who complain. … You can always run for city council and make changes. I assume you would just rather complain….. People that are full of hate and whiners are just the worst. But again all the best in your new town and maybe find more worth while things to whine about…. Poverty, World hunger , ect…..

    • mark4java

      I so agree Kevin. This is a guy too stupid to know that the entire South is called the Bible Belt for a reason. Too ignorant to have any real insight. Yet it’s important that we all know how smart he is and that he owned a business. We live 20 minutes from Appomattox, you think someone might mention the Civil War? Though I cannot recall a time in 20 yrs that I’ve heard anything about it other than in a classroom or at the Nat’l Park. Wonder if he’s ever driven in a city outside of this one? Try getting lost in Greensboro or Richmond and get back to us about what that’s like.

      He did meet his objective, to piss off a bunch of people and get them to visit his website that has nothing of value. I was optimistic that the article would address real shortcomings of our town but seeing as how he grasps that it’s difficult to walk anywhere in a city of Seven Hills, it could only go downhill from there. Maybe if he hadn’t placed his business downtown he’d been successful and liked the ‘burg. Hey Ryan, just so you know Sysco serves a lot of restaurants and it’s not all the same. I’d go eat now at La Caretta but I might run into a bunch of hip kids not dressed well enough to be in there. You know the kids around here in their polo shirts and yuppie clothing that is so “dirty.” Maybe instead of writing lame blogs, you devote some of your time to taking a business class?

      • Ryan Thomas Neace

        2 things: 1) My business was successful and operating with full force when I left. It still runs, as a matter of fact. 2) Thanks for reading!

  • Marcelo Asher Quarantotto

    Lynchburg, like life, is what you make of it.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Well, this is platitude. I appreciate what you’re saying, but the complexity of life is sufficient to outweigh personal choice (“what you make of it”) on a number of levels. All of that to say, I didn’t enjoy my time in Lynchburg, but I did find a way to live contently. That did not abate my criticisms, but it was sufficient to help me learn to live with them.

      • Marcelo Asher Quarantotto

        It’s really not all that complex. I think we’ve made it complex. But a lot of the complaining I see happening in Lynchburg is done by people who are doing nothing to make it better.

        • Ryan Thomas Neace

          That’s true about the term platitude. I only mean to imply that there are many situations for which it is insufficiently nuanced to appraise a situation.

          • Marcelo Asher Quarantotto

            It is only in that people think “life is what you make it” implies that the course is easy and without problems.

          • Devon Fisher

            Just because you use big words doesn’t make you sound smart. It makes you sound pompous and uppity. I don’t live in Lynchburg anymore, and I can’t say i disagree with some of your points, however, your cadence is what most people don’t like. If you are serious about blogging, you really need to drop the snobby act and be true to yourself because I don’t think I would read another blog of yours simply because of the snarky tone that it has.

          • Ryan Thomas Neace

            Devon – 3 things: 1) Great selfie. 2) I don’t know what big words I used, but I try to write at about a 6th grade reading level. 3) I’m sorry you won’t be reading anymore, but thanks for reading this!

          • Tyler Hwang

            Devon, it’s difficult to not come off as snarky when giving reasons why he’s glad he’s not living in Lynchburg. He’s giving his honest opinion, and frankly, it’s refreshing to see someone be direct for once without mitigating their actual thoughts on the matter. Further, people that use “big words” don’t usually do so because they believe it will make them “sound smart.” They do so because those are words they’ve gradually learned to incorporate into their day to day communication. People far too often associate being direct or honest with being rude or condescending. I used to live there, have family there, and continue to visit when I am able to. There are many things I do like about Lynchburg; however, I can also get on board with the majority of what Ryan has pointed out. There are definitely issues (as with anywhere) that are in need of addressing, and coming up with justifications or taking offense rather than facing them isn’t helping progression.

    • Mitch Dalton

      Sure, but sometimes life sucks. That’s how it goes. Make good of it but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck. At least for the time being. I agree with everything Ryan said and I think releasing a few frustrations is perfectly legitimate. Improvement requires honesty, not idealism.

      • Marcelo Asher Quarantotto

        But broad-brushing, non-constructive negativity? And I agree, it requires honesty, but there’s little of that going around. Improvement requires honesty and idealism.

      • Marcelo Asher Quarantotto

        The problem is in the delivery, not in the facts.

        • Mitch Dalton

          Not all criticism must present a solution. I agree that the article is broad-brushed and and non-constructive but I guess a random stranger’s complaints about a location just don’t bother me. It’s a political cartoon, a fun little jab at some frustrations many of us feel. Perhaps if I subscribed to Ryan’s blog and felt a relationship to his pieces I would feel differently.

          Regarding improvement requiring honesty AND idealism. Perhaps I didn’t fully think that sentence through… 😉

    • Lee New

      Life is like a box of chocolates would have said just as much. 😉

  • Aaron Smith

    Great stuff. I lived there for a year and left immediately (actually, I didn’t even make it the whole year… was so horrible, I broke lease and left after 10 months). I thought Virginia was beautiful but the Lynchburg/Liberty culture drove me insane! #10 was the worst. The christian imposed culture (mostly) devoid of Christ… All the “rules” but no genuine content in the people I interacted with. Needless to say, I doubt I will ever step foot in that city again.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for reading, Aaron! Glad you could relate.

  • Melie Guzek

    THANK YOU! I grew up here and still currently live in this hell hole until graduation. When people ask me “why do you hate Lynchburg so much?” I vented a lot about these points but could never really get further than “The lack of night life-drivers-Wards Rd.-Liberty…..” without getting so frazzled I couldn’t complete the thought. Thanks for laying it all out, all the reasons Lynchburg = Purgatory. So now when they ask, I can just be like, here read this and you’ll understand.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Now I see your response, Melie! I learned to be content there and tried to make a difference, but this piece was nonetheless the sum total of my critical appraisal. Glad it resonated with you!

  • Sarah Epperson

    I enjoyed reading this and agree with you and I’ve lived here 25 years! lol. Hope you’re doing well! Glad I found this and can subscribe! 🙂

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Glad to have you Sarah – I’m doing great! Thanks for reading!

  • Rox Cruz

    It’s sad to me that you would spend all this effort bashing a place that so many people love just because it didn’t fit you perfectly. I spent my whole life just waiting to get out, and now that I’m away my heart still yearns to be back home so often. What’s even sadder is this “holier-than-thou” attitude that you speak against, yet hold yourself… even including your wife in it.
    -Bad drivers are in any city, all it takes is moving away to realize that. (And is that car accident picture even from Lynchburg?)
    -Hipsters are everywhere these days… get over it. But thanks for trying to give Lynchburg the credit for creating them.
    -As well as two-faced people… and you might want to include yourself in that category since you say you even held off on writing this as to not alienate your clients, so weren’t you doing the same thing in the name of a paycheck?
    -There are some GREAT restaurants to check out that use local/organic food, Mangia being my favorite of all of them. You want diversity? In my elementary and middle school I was the minority… and I’m white.
    -Not everyone needs a club or alcohol to have a good time… some of us like the fact that Lynchburg’s downtown area is based in the arts and the outdoors.
    -As a “card-carrying Christian” you should also know it’s not your place to judge other Christians… we’re all screwed up and nobody has it right, so why don’t you humble yourself a little and stop thinking you’re so much better than all the citizens of Lynchburg, and too good for the place itself.
    Maybe the problem isn’t with the place… maybe the problem is with you. I agree with Marcelo, your complaining attitude sucks. And also with Kevin, you’ll probably be miserable wherever you go until you learn to find your contentment in Christ and not in the circumstances around you. Let go of the bitterness… it’s obviously boiling over since you felt the need to vent publicly for years now.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Hi Rox – thanks for writing. I think your appraisal of my piece is pretty lopsided, and I certainly don’t think of myself as holier than thou in any sense of the phrase. One large problem Lynchburg faces is the struggle to appraise itself accurately, tending to become defensive rather than looking at the merits of arguments. You’ve said so much here that isn’t factual about me personally that I don’t care to respond. But thanks for reading anyhow!

      • Benjamin J. Parrish Sr

        not so–Rox’s appraisal is spot on. Most of your commentary was asinine at best, but mostly downright moronic. You started with a critique of the layout of the city, lamenting the fact that the hills make it difficult for straight line travel, yet you say a rail system would help. Where, mr engineer, would you propose we install such a system? The hills that cause your disdain for travel would cause the same problems for a rail system. And if you would please, name for me a city of less than 75000 (such as Lynchburg) that has one? Roanoke, Richmond, VA Beach/Norfolk/Tidewater are all larger, the last one VASTLY larger as a metro area, and yet NONE of them have a commuter rail so your hypothesis is WAY off.
        “At least one reason why there is so little nightlife in downtown Lynchburg (and Lynchburg and Virginia as a whole) is because of the antiquated “food to alcohol ratio” rule that even in its current form is little more than an altered form of Prohibition.” Um , this is a VA statute and not a Lynchburg municipal code. ALL restaurants in the Commonwealth have this “problem.” And as Roxy said, not everyone needs alcohol to have fun in the night life.
        Your assertion about Lynchburg drivers sucking is only half correct. VA drivers as a whole are horrible. However, a large contingent of the bad drivers in Lynchburg hale from other locales as we have THOUSANDS of young people flooding our streets from Aug to May while they attend school at LU, LC, Randolph, Sweet Briar etc. And by the way, nice picture of a wreck NOT in Lynchburg as a way to try to make your point seem more valid. It was a HUGE nonsequitor.
        Mexican food has to be the stupidest complaint out there. Really? You’re going to complain about the Mexican food that you found in the middle of VIRGINIA!? Im sure the folks that immigrated from Central America and started the LaCarreta chain would have much to say about their “TexMex” cooking. You’re grasping at straws and simply looking for something to complain about now.
        I’m born and raised right here in the Hill City and I’ll be danged if I’m gonna lt some transplant try to rip my hometown after living there for only, yes only, 15 years. Try 36, or 60 like my Dad, or 86 like my Grandmother.
        Your selfrighteous babble leads me to think you need to drop the card-carrying portion of your Christianity and trade it for Bible-carrying. I guess its true what they say, Midwesterners really are like Southerners…just without the charm.

        • Matthew Legner

          Ryan, I think that if you had had a time machine, you could have simply grabbed this post, traveled back in time, posted it yourself and then you would have saved yourself a lot of descriptors for why some things in Lynchburg have gone awry. “i’ll be danged, too.” lol

          • Ryan Thomas Neace

            🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting.

        • Ryan Thomas Neace

          Well, you’ll be danged, I suppose. Thanks for reading!

        • TimothyOnline

          “I’m born and raised right here in the Hill City and I’ll be danged if I’m gonna let some transplant try to rip my hometown after living there for only, yes only, 15 years. Try 36, or 60 like my Dad, or 86 like my Grandmother.”

          What does this imply? Are you saying that whomever has lived in Lynchburg the longest exclusively possesses the right to evaluate its shortcomings?

          I can only speak for myself, but I found little to no good paying jobs in the IT / Telecom sector during my time there a decade ago, and I’ve been actively seeking employment there for the past three years. I am a baccalaureate-degree, multiple IT certification-carrying, military telecommunications-and-data experienced veteran, and these are the jobs with which I’ve been presented:

          -VDOT telecommunications coordinator. I forget if it was 60k or 45k a year, but during the interview they balked at either my military drill schedule or the fact I wanted to attend LU full-time, which is the entire reason I bothered with Lynchburg in the first place.
          -Microwave broadband installer. To them, 45k a year was “high”, despite the fact that it was 1099.
          -Some lackey scanning position for…wait for it…10 dollars an hour.

          I’ve read your page, Mr. Parrish, and I have great respect for you and the views you espouse. That having been said, those of us who aren’t *from* Lynchburg experience genuine and terrible difficulty making a respectable living or living a fulfilling life there. The first time I tried to attend LU there (just over a decade ago back when Jerry was still alive) the best I could do long-term was just over minimum wage…and that was utilizing military connections and having military telecommunications experience.

          Some of us just aren’t satisfied with working just over minimum wage at big-box retail while enduring the worst, slowest drivers in Virginia in an environment devoid of arts and culture.

  • Sally Green

    You are ignorant and just spent all that time to declare to the world that you don’t want to live in a small town in the south. Go back to the Midwest, I’m sure you can find someone up there who feels like listening to your opinions. And just a tip, avoid using huge cities in California to justify how things should be done in Lynchburg because that is completely irrelevant.

    • Sally Green

      Who would use this rail system? Less than 10% of Lynchburg’s population currently use public transportation as it is. Good thing you aren’t in charge of where our tax money is going! And take another look downtown, because the strides made in the last 5 years are remarkable.

      • Ryan Thomas Neace

        Sally – I lived in Lynchburg less than one year ago – I moved in 2013. Also, rail systems attract the kind of patrons who are typically averse to riding buses – it’s largely a cultural issue. A similar issue is being raised in Nashville, TN at this time – many people are saying that the rail system isn’t going to work because people don’t ride the bus, but the Mayor and other interested parties are plodding ahead because of the issue I’m mentioning – rails attract different patrons.

      • Cory Staton

        That’s because GLTC lines don’t go to hardly anywhere you need them to in a timely manner. To get to just about anywhere here, it’s a necessity to own a vehicle, or condemn yourself to walking 1-2 hours or more to get to the other side of the city. A dedicated transit line that Mr. Neace is recommending would work wonders here if executed properly.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Sally – thanks for reading! If you read again, you may notice that I don’t live in Lynchburg anymore. And while I understand you believe that the contrast I drew between Lynchburg and another city was comparing apples to oranges, oddly enough, I think that’s my point.

  • Melissa Cash

    WOW!!!!! I have never commented on a blog before, but felt the great need to defend my city. I was born here, lived here (almost my entire life) and will be buried here. This place called Lynchburg is my home where I have raised my family – surrounded by my family. My husband and I lived away for 4 years while he was in the military – couldn’t wait to leave and couldn’t wait to return. As a teenager I felt as most do – too small, too conservative, too …well you get the picture. When we left we lived in Illinois and South Carolina – those mountains that “contained” you is what I missed the most. Yes, we have our shortcomings, as you showed not only us but the world, but we have many strengths as well. We do have character, compassion, strong work ethics to go along with our strong back bones. We have beauty around us and within us. So sorry that you feel your years here were not “enough” of whatever it is you needed. I certainly hope as a counselor, professor, husband, and daddy that you inspire those around you to see the glass half full and not half empty and to see the wonder around them – no matter where they are. I wish you could’ve used your time more wisely on making the world a better place than choosing to condemn our city. Thank you, Mr. Nance for reminding me of how much I LOVE Lynchburg!!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Melissa – welcome to your first blog post! I’m glad this aroused a comment from you, but I’m sorry you were apparently offended. That wasn’t my intent. Your appraisal of how I spent my time isn’t informed by much, but anyone who lived there when I did will be able to attest to my efforts to better the city. If you love Lynchburg as you say (and I’m sure you do), I hope you’ll consider it a worthwhile venture to appraise its weaknesses honestly. Best to you!

      • Melissa Cash

        Ryan, I certainly know we have shortcomings as I stated in my post. We still have much to learn and gain from one another to better our city, but that is where we differ. While I can appraise our weaknesses you fail to show our strengths – again, the half empty mentality. My best to you and your family, Ryan from this back-stabbing, Christian culture, non-driving, sub-par, dirty, Southern who lives in generic hell wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks, Ryan for making me laugh today 🙂

        • Ryan Thomas Neace

          “I’m willing to believe there are many reasons one might want to live in Lynchburg. I say that sincerely. But the list that follows doesn’t contain any of them.”

  • Jake

    Doesn’t this post have a “dirty hipster” feel to it?

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Absolutely. Irony intended. Thanks for reading!

  • Nicole Hite

    Dubbing Wards Rd. “Generic Hell” is incredibly spot on. I grew up in Lynchburg and didn’t realize how little positive points it held until after I’d left for college and moved away following graduation that there’s a lot more to the world than mediocre chain restaurants and churches on every corner. Thanks for writing this!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for your comment, Nicole! And thanks for reading!

  • Al

    After 10 years in the area I think you are right on all points. I think you were kind.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      I’ll admit this was not the first draft of this post, Al. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  • Mike Cooper

    I moved here in 97 and feel pretty much the same. Though the Mason Dixon line thing was really bad when I lived in Maryland also. Before that grew up in California and would have to strongly agree on the horrible Mexican food. Delicia’s is where we go for real Central and South American dining.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for reading, Mike! Glad you could relate!

  • Owen Dugger

    Couldn’t be more spot on, a great read

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks, Owen!

  • gigi2landon

    I actually found the piece to be stark, realistic and fair. I do think it is a “safe” place to raise children as I did my 3 kids who are no 31, 32 and 33 (only one has chosen Virginia – btw).

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Gigi – that’s very fair. Thanks for reading!

  • Thomas Jefferson

    Another weak person on the internet looking to release their personal discomfort through criticism. Lynchburg is a great community and it is beautiful geographically. I’m sorry you didn’t come to appreciate the history and culture of the beloved community you call “Generic Hell”. Every place in America has their dilemmas. The midwest has plenty I’m sure you are aware of, but i doubt you would think to criticize your hometown. You aren’t helping raise awareness of any issues so there’s no information, progressively speaking, in your article. Find something that needs to be said or don’t say anything, please.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      I don’t agree with anything you said, but thank you for reading and for your anonymous post!

  • Chris Wilson

    You seem to have a pretty good take on Lynchburg but your angst at Southerners rubs me the wrong way. There’s duplicitous people everywhere. Even in the Midwest. I’m sorry that some people here treated you the wrong way but I don’t feel that gives you the right to label a whole segment of the country a certain way. When I meet someone from the South or North or Midwest or the West Coast I don’t like to assume things about them but classify them as individuals. Maybe that is just me

    I’d like to get out of here at some point too for many of the reasons you listed but I don’t appreciate being judged by my heritage.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Chris – thanks for reading! I didn’t judge you.

  • Dylan

    States the obvious, yet lacks insight into downtown developments. Sensationalism over constructive criticism….

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Dylan – please share your own insights! Thanks for reading.

  • Brad Taylor

    Yeah this is pretty spot on.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Woot woot. Thanks for reading.

  • Courtney Newhall

    You are definitely entitled to your own opinion, but it’s sad you see Lynchburg in that way. Pretty much the only thing I strongly agree with you on is driving. Lynchburg needs to take a citywide driving class. I currently live downtown, and I am able to walk to local businesses and restaurants. Downtown has been expanding a lot this past year as well and has a great dynamic community. You can travel less than an hour to the nearest mountain to hike and explore. If this sounds mean, I’m sorry, but it just doesn’t sound like you got out much. Like the person below said life is what you make it. You can be bitter all you want, but life if so much better when looking at it with the glass half full perspective.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Courtney – haha!!! Thank you for your response. Ah, if only that was true. I don’t feel bitter at all, but I understand for some it may be easier to dismiss my criticisms if they believed I was. Thank you for reading!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Well, okay. I think it’s easier to swallow some of my comments if you assume that I’m a bitter guy, but I don’t think you’d really find me that. Thanks for reading anyhow!

  • Steve

    Clearly you have never lived somewhere with real traffic… even at it’s worst, Wards Road is not bad traffic-wise

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Steve, did you read the parts of the story where I mention St. Louis and Nashville? Would you call those real areas? I lived there. Anyhoo, traffic is relative to the area. If you’d like to go on record stating that the sprawlish overgrowth on Wards Road hasn’t created traffic problems, I’m not sure that I can help. But thank you for reading anyhow!

      • Steve

        The rush hour traffic is equivalent to the average traffic on roads in northern Delaware at all times of the day for the most part… not bad at all

  • harlots_progress

    I think your post is more than fair. I’ve lived in the ‘Burg since 2001 and the founding family of the city are my direct ancestors. Had I written an honest review/assessment of the city I would not have been so kind.I definitely know what you mean about not wanting to offend anyone, and yes, of course, there are many positive aspects to living here. But not necessarily the ones that matter most to some. I am moving soon, though my husband and I are keeping our house and acreage here because, after all, the peace and quiet are one of the best qualities the area offers.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for your comment, especially given your lineage. Because of the “internets” I’m not surprised at the venom people are spitting, but I did work as hard as I could to keep the tone even.

  • Dallas Shipp

    I adore my adopted city of Lynchburg, yet I am dispassionate about your detractions. Perhaps I see it as relatively constructive? I choose to see it as such. Your idea of a streetcar is right on target. I could not agree more. I like to imagine reconfiguring the old city with streetcar lines or reviving the old lines as they ran. Still: you cannot possibly get indignant about this kind of thing. No idle millionaire is waiting to restart Lynchburg Light and Traction, and the City is busy securing funds to rebuild staircases and elevators downtown.

    I appreciate your comments on downtown. I do not know your business, but as you left, I assume it failed. I regret that, and I cannot blame you for only imagining it as a place of decline and false promise. Still, I cannot help but notice the half-dozen new apartment and loft buildings bringing residents downtown. Residency downtown is rising quickly. Rental apartments are a sure investment here, as I’m sure you appreciate. I don’t blame you for your negativity on the prospects, but I am thrilled about possibilities downtown. You ought to consider the radical differences between Lynchburg and Charlottesville in your unfavorable comparison. Charlottesville is one of the smallest and richest areas in the state, and Lynchburg does not compare in disposable income. Those who imagine downtown as a new Charlottesville pedestrian mall will be disappointed. Lynchburg will form its own atmosphere.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Dallas – thanks for your thoughtful and dispassionate remarks. I’m glad the idea of some sort of rail/car system resonates. I don’t think I felt indignant about the lack of response. I get it. Money talks.

      As for my business, no, it didn’t fail. As a matter of fact, of the 6 fiscal years preceding it, the last was the strongest. But, we’d been grooming an employee to take over, and it ended up falling through almost immediately before our intended departure. We scrambled to find a Plan B, but interviewed 6 candidates in a short time frame with no success. In what is arguably the most counter-intuitive business decision in my life, I elected to close the business and start over rather than delay my move. The above no doubt was part of the reasoning.

      All of that to say, I only moved away last year, so I’m roughly familiar with the new developments to which you’re referring. “Negative” is a word that keeps popping up in reference to this post, but I don’t think I presented anything particularly unfair, i.e., unduly negative. I feel quite hopeful for Lynchburg’s future, but quite grateful not to be a part of it.

      Finally, your contrast between Lynchburg and Charlottesville is certainly fair in terms of per capita income. But I used to serve on the board of a downtown boosting organization, and I can tell you, there’s plenty of money floating around. The problems are much deeper than what you or I have listed here.

      Thanks so much for reading!

    • Lee New

      One of the few well-written, reasoned comments that disagrees with the blog entry.

  • Jessica

    I lived in Lynchburg for 6 years. #10 was probably the biggest factor as to why I wanted to get the heck out of that town (I refuse to call it a city because it sure is not a “real” city – sorry to all the Lynchburgers I offend but you really should leave your comfort zone and travel to a real city). The fact that so many people in that area are still fighting in the Civil War irritates me. Sorry, but the North won (yes, I’m a Yankee as “y’all” like to call us). A large majority of Southerners that I met during my time in Virginia alienated those that weren’t and walked around saying “bless your heart” and typically were just downright hypocritical, judgmental and entitled. Especially those that claimed to be Christians. I saw less of Christ in the way they carried themselves (dressing/acting like the Kardashians -superficial and VERY materialistic), the way they treated others (gossipy, downright rude/mean, self-serving, etc.), in comparison to those who didn’t profess themselves as Christians yet acted more Christ-like. That’s what’s sad. That culture is breeding an unhealthy version of “Christians” devoid of the character and love of Christ. As someone who grew up in a very conservative, Christian home, I was completely turned off by the Christianity I experienced during my time in Lynchburg. It literally made me stop and think, if I was a non-Christian, I would want to run far from all of these people claiming to be Christians because I would never want to be anything like them. And that is exactly what I did.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for sharing your perspective and for reading, Jessica!

  • Cory Staton

    Having been born and raised here in Lynchburg, I really couldn’t agree with you more on just about all your points. I still question why my mom moved from Buffalo, NY to here to be with my dad rather than them moving somewhere else entirely. In my 24 years of life here, I’ve watched this city grow into an increasingly large mess. The city government tries to revitalize areas of commerce that are dead (The Plaza), they overcrowd and congest areas that are already overly so (Wards Rd), try to breathe life into renovating a half-alive downtown area, and basically let Liberty continue to buy off everything surrounding them (they just shoved Sears out of the mall about a year ago and bought the old Days Inn) but don’t pay the taxes they should because of their “non-profit” status. I hate this city. Most of my friends agree with me.

    To sum it up, Lynchburg is soul-sucking. Can I just move to Seattle, WA now? Somewhere where the vibe is so much more laid back, people don’t act stupid with their driving, and generally like each other more? Oh wait, nope. I’m stuck here till I finish college. =/

    Great post by the way. I’ve never taken the time to reply to a blog post, but damn man, you hit this nail on the head pretty well. Kudos. =)

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for your support, Cory! I’m glad it resonated with you. I really do believe some people can enjoy living in Lburg – you and I are just aren’t those guys. Good luck if you decide to vacate. I really do love life where I’m at now. Sometimes, the grass is quite a bit greener. Thanks for reading!

      • Cory Staton

        Oh most certainly!! I’m not downing the strengths of the city, but having lived here to watch it evolve into what it is now, I feel the issues of the city overpower the pros. I feel as if there’s nothing notably positive that would make me want to live here, so I question why others move here. I just want something of a bigger, more grand nature. I like nature and all, but I hate being confined to a small city where night life is non-existent (I’m a night owl at heart).

        I’ve traveled to a lot of places. My favorites thus far are Seattle; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; and Richmond, in that order. I crave new experiences, and Lynchburg just doesn’t offer that. It’s changing, but not at the same time. Too stuck on the traditional methods of life I suppose.

  • Caroline T Brown

    I enjoyed this and i find it true and i live in Lynchburg. The dirty people working in restaurants is very true in several businesses. I personally am looking forward to the day I move away. Very few people are not fake here.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Caroline – thanks for reading and commenting!

  • SkinnyNick

    Interesting blog. I actually agree with many of the points you’ve made. I’ve lived in Lynchburg since ’94 and still line here. I was raised in different places in the states and overseas before moving here. My dad was in the Navy. I’m also multiracial. Mom is Filipino and dad is mixed with Black, White and Red (Native American). Lol. So I feel just as, if not more qualified, to assess the great city of Lynchburg. Oh, I’m also a small business owner. Of course, I’m being a little sarcastic with some of this. Truthful nonetheless. I respect your opinion. Obviously moving was the best choice for you. My problem is with the people that still live here and agree with you, but have no intentions of either moving or making a difference. I honestly plan to move one day myself. However, while I’m here I will make a difference where I can, firstly, with my Own family and, secondly, with those around me that I can positively impact. Not by evangelizing or anything like that, but by empowering people economically with employment and, hopefully, socially by the types of businesses I plan to open that provide the type of changes I’d like to see. I commend you for opening a business here. This is definitely a town for the small guys, myself included. But the only way this town is gonna see the types of changes we’d like to see. While the local government and the mega institution of Liberty/Thomas Road are actually improving the area, they obviously have their own interests at the forefront. We’ve gotta make the small changes we wanna see ourselves. Great article though. You’ve definitely stirred the coals.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Nick – thanks for sharing your story and your struggle. I tried to make as much difference as I could while there both with helping revitalization efforts, serving on civic boards, and through being a business owner. But competing interests (like taking care of family) sometimes do override that. So do what you can, and hang in. Thanks for reading!

  • K.t. Hicks

    I lived in Lynchburg for a few years – my parents’ divorce and lack of other options after college meant I moved back in with my mother for a few years and at the time, she worked in that area.

    As a non-Christian, I found living in Lynchburg was like constantly dealing with it being 26 o’clock. Nothing was ever so wrong, but nothing ever quite felt quite right. I didn’t fit in, my lack of church-going was considered a major character flaw for things like raises and promotions.

    There’s a very insider’s only club going on. Street signs were often placed at strange angles, or inset from the road. But of course, you didn’t need them, you’d lived there your entire life! Road repairs were done haphazardly and with no forewarning or signs telling you to merge left. What did you need those for, your cousin was on the road crew and would let you know! You rarely got a job based on your skills or abilities, but more on where your uncle worked (never your aunt, mind… very good ol’ boys club, Lynchburg was).

    My husband and I frequently observed a phenomena we called “typical Lynchburg service” where there was a complete lack of concern for customers. I was once served a burger with an entire lettuce core (not the actual lettuce mind you, but the core, the part you’re supposed to KNOCK OUT before you shred it!) and my complaint was met with a “yeah, and?”

    There was also a very strange custom, it seemed to me, of people marrying other people that they didn’t actually LIKE. I’m not talking about a marriage that fell apart, I’m talking about dating relationships that weren’t working before they even stuck a ring on it.

    I’ve lived in the south most of my entire life; I grew up in a small rural town (about which I would say worse things than my experiences in Lynchburg) so it’s not that I’m a stranger to southern customs, or overly fond of my own hometown.

    Now, many of the people I knew in Lynchburg seem genuinely fond of the city, and to be honest, I’m happy for them.

    But it’s really not for everyone. I’m much, much happier away, and even when things suck here – for quite some time I had trouble finding work and my family spent a while being really quite poor – we always cheered ourselves up with “at least we’re not in Lynchburg.”

    Altho, I do admit to sometimes missing a Cheesy Western at the Texas Tea Room.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Interesting set of observations, K.T.! Thanks for sharing and for reading my blog!

  • contrarian

    Ironic that you chose to move to St. Louis given its protracted history of concentrated poverty, racial segregation, and piss poor community relations. Many of my friends who live there would argue “the Lou” is little more than “Up South”.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      I take it by this attack that you were pretty offended at the above. Thanks for taking the time to try to insult me! I don’t feel particularly attached to the city, so it doesn’t really work. But it was a great effort! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • contrarian

        Come now Ryan. You’re much smarter than this. I wasn’t offended nor was I trying to insult you. I was born and raised in Lynchburg and moved away nearly 20 years ago because I desired a different cultural experience. After living in the midwest for a number of years I’ve realized that people here like to pride themselves on being more “Mainstreet Middle America” than their narrow views actually support. The point is simply that many of the issues that you found with Lynchburg are very present in St. Louis as well. Yes St. Louis has a thriving restaurant/club district and benefits from a more porous geography that allows one to avoid the more commercial districts. But at the end of the day St. Louis experiences many of the same deep-seated tensions that are present across the South. It certainly was so bad that the Department of Justice felt the need to intervene and PBS felt the need to document. That sir isn’t a personal attack. It’s a presentation of fact based on decades of documented research on St. Louis and East St. Louis.

        • Ryan Thomas Neace

          I didn’t say you were insulting me, anonymous sir. What I said was that you were making an attack – on St. Louis. P.S. East St. Louis is in Illinois. Completely different place, albeit, one with lots of problems. At any rate, I’m not prepared to make the kind of wholesale evaluation that you are about St. Louis, and of course, you’re right, most places have problems, some large!

    • TimothyOnline

      …and it’s *still* better than the ‘burg. At least it’s a proper city.

  • Sarah Conaway

    You forgot the specific genre of hipsters that dress like they are homeless, yet are smoking their American Spirits while holding the leash of their $500 dogs and have never worked a day in their lives because daddy is from the Old Money part of town (but he didn’t really work either and it’s totally ok to do cocaine if you’re white and go to the local country club). You could’ve expounded upon the driving (Oh, a green light–why hurry? or “hey, let’s just go ahead and park in the merge lane–I need a break from this driving nonsense!”). Then there are the people who hang out at the ultra hipster places and complain about how boring and horrible Lynchburg is, but insist on leaving for 3 months then come right on back here to Suck City so they can make fun of locals and gripe about how they have some sort of alternative Christianity of a higher brand than Thomas Road that allows them to be just like Jesus while they puff their joints, drink wine all night, and sleep with everyone in town–because those sins aren’t nearly as bad as hypocrisy and going to Cracker Barrel. THE SCREW IS LOOSE!

  • Mallory Murphy

    Ryan – I love your post! I moved to Richmond when I was 20 (6 years ago), and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I couldn’t get away from that place fast enough.

    I definitely agree with all of your points, although I think the “genericness” of Lynchburg isn’t unique; I think it’s pretty common in mid-size towns in the US.

    I assume you expected the negative comments to this post. I think you’re handling them beautifully! The perception of people in Lynchburg is that they’re close minded, and you know what they say… perception is reality. But these people will NEVER be able to accept that.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for your great comment, Mallory! Your comment about genericness being everywhere is totally fair. Glad you’re enjoying Richmond!

  • Nate72

    Hey Ryan! as a former Lynchburgian I have to tell you this is both true and hilarious! You handle the negative comments exceptionally well. Not only reiterating your points, but respecting those who don’t always respect you. thanks for the read and the laugh, while keeping my hope for humanity!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for sharing, Nate! I’m glad this resonated with you. I totally expect the vitriol from folks, so I’m trying. Be well!

  • Andie Wilson-McPhatter

    Ryan I am a native Lynchburger,left for 13 Years came back…regrettably and looking to leave soon. I happen to know some of the people who were so offended by your post even went to school with one who was the “minority”…. Nonetheless I believe your appraisal was and is true… I know your wife s well as of you and I did not pick up snobbish or pompous but blatant truth. Those who so passionately responded probably were stung by the truth. Your mention of lack of diversity specifically resonated with me. Two months after moving her my then four year old said “mom can we please move back home there are only creamy people here” my sweet girl doesn’t even recognize race she just knew she mainly saw one type of people here. I could happily add to this list but it wouldn’t effect social change. I am a realist so while I’m here I’ve vowed to contribute some kind of change something to evoke better! Hope you guys are loving St. Louis and tell your wife Cardio Funk isn’t the same without her!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Andie – wow! I was really struck by your daughter’s comment. I know it’s hard – I moved to and from Lynchburg for a while before we decided to leave (Lord willing) for good. I will pass along your sweet comment to my wife. Thanks for reading!

  • John D. Harney

    Haha. I think you and I had many of these conversation over the years. I get you.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Indeed we did. Indeed we did. Thanks for reading, John! Don’t let them kill me.

  • Retro Fixes

    I lived in Lynchburg years ago and I come back and visit family often. Most of your points I cant connect with. Bad drivers are everywhere and Wallmarts are in every small city. BUT I really dislike liberty college. In recent years they destroyed two mountains in city view. One mountain has that ugly LU logo (as seen in your blog post) and the other has the gaint ski slopes, the bright lights are sees for miles and stay on til 10-11pm. I’m disgusted every time I visit lburg, its a real shame

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for commenting, Retro. Glad some of this resonated with you!

  • rebekah

    I don’t currently live there anymore and I can’t say that some of the topics aren’t too off (Wards rd. YUCK!!) For the most part, however, I think your just winey! Goodbye, sorry you stayed as long as you did! It’s people like you that make life a challenge. Apparently you have Nothing better to do than “blog” (complain). Glad you moved, somehow the city just got a little better!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thank you for this passive-aggressive response! I’m glad you read the piece!

  • cwalker

    Really? Nothing better to do than write that painfully long, stupid drivel above? You are lashing out and it is so obvious you are a very bitter person and have some deep seeded need to trash L-burg which I suspect is the result of a bad experience that prompted you to move. Might want to get some counseling for that!!!!!! Counselor heal thyself! If you don’t like where you are then move and MOVE ON with your life. I’ve got news for you – L-burg is extremely happy that you no longer live there!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Well, now. That’s a little intense. Thanks for readign!

  • Max

    Pretty spot-on. The only thing that I haven’t run into so much is the smelly hipsters. Of course I’ve seen a few, but everywhere has them. It isn’t Richmond or anything. haha Also, your implication that long facial hair makes you both a hipster and unhygienic is bothersome to me. I’ve had a long beard for a decade. I shampoo and condition my beard daily as well as generally put more time into maintaining it at a level of cleanliness greater than most guys keep the hair on their heads or the skin on their shaved faces. As long as you bathe, it is not unhygienic to have a beard. Also, people are allowed to have long hair in the food service industry. It either isn’t an issue, is put under a hat or hairnet, or is pulled back. Why is it that moving the location of the follicles a few inches all of a sudden makes it unsanitary? If it’s an issue, a long-bearded person could put it into a beard net. Also, I would rather find a 12-inch long hair that is more easily visible and could be pulled off than some little pube-length, “acceptable-length” beard hair or head hair. I apologize for being defensive. haha I’ve just been dealing with this illogical nonsense for years…and then in the past years I get that as well as being called a god damned hipster. Nice post though!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Max, your complaints about my beard comments are totally fair. It was meant to be tongue-in-cheek and just a segue to talk about what I really wanted to – dirty places. You’re not being defensive. Thanks for reading!

  • Courtney R. Popp

    Lived in “Lunchbox” from 2002-2010 and still have friends there. You neglected to mention the rampant drug abuse (Lynchburg Junior League, I’m looking at you) among the ’03 crowd, the nepotism (you’ll never achieve any kind of success unless you are someone or know someone), and the over inflated sense of worth of the “rich” in Lynchburg have (when their net worths wouldn’t buy a half decent house in DC).

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Courtney – ouch! Thanks for reading!

    • Libi Prince

      Ms. Popp, I am curious as to why you would call out the Junior League of Lynchburg (not Lynchburg Junior League) for our “rampant drug abuse”. Seems a little strange considering I don’t recall you being at a meeting in the last ten years since I’ve been a member. I’m not saying that members, current or past, did not participate in drug use, but I can assure you that this is not a common problem among our members. Whenever you have a large group of people, the likelihood of someone using drugs will statistically be there. I couldn’t give you a name though of anyone I know that has such a problem. To lump the good name of the League in with your apparent distaste for our organization is childish. Perhaps you had a bad experience with a member or two, but to say that the group as a whole or even as a majority has a drug problem is inexcusable.

      All of the readers of this blog post, have the right to form their own opinions of this city that I call home. Lynchburg is not for everyone and that is OK. I happen to love it here for my own reasons and would encourage others to visit and give it a try. I do not agree with Mr. Neace’s assessment of my hometown and am glad he found happiness elsewhere. Hey, just one less driver I need to maneuver around in traffic and one less person I have to wait behind when I go to La Carreta…no big deal.

      • Ryan Thomas Neace

        Thanks for your response, Libi, and thanks for reading the piece!

  • Melissa Sue Fulton

    Most of the people angry at this post seem like they may have just skimmed through it, already determined to beat you down for expressing your opinion! Ignorance is definitely a southern trait demonstrated on a daily basis in our beloved Lynchburg… ah, what can you do?
    This is a great post and I can attest to a lot of what you’ve said. I’m so glad you are happy with where you are in your life now, and admire your bravery in speaking publicly about the cities imperfections. No city is perfect, of course, but we sugar coat the issues all too often. Great work!

    — Lissa

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Melissa – I tend to agree with you. I suppose that’s pretty typical for the internets. Lots of vitriol and so forth without actually reading. But I understand the impetus to defend the city. Thanks for readign!

  • Sarah

    Thanks for writing! Raised in Lynchburg, couldn’t wait to get out. It’s such a black hole. I made some great memories but surely don’t miss it.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Haha. Thanks for reading, Sarah!

  • Kyle Mummau

    I really agree with this assessment. The driving, holy crap! I’m a new driver, got my license last may, so I admit I don’t have a lot of experience, but I have family from the north, i.e, NJ and MA etc… They know what they’re doing on the road, and really anybody does but these people that live here… I wanna say a lot of it though is college students who are just not that experienced… the downtown life sucks, I find myself constantly wishing there was stuff to do, but having to settle for a movie at the oh so wonderful dollar theatre… Liberty I feel is the main cause of this christian culture, i give that school so much credit, they’ve honestly done a phenomenal thing for the city, and Christianity as a whole, but between them and TRBC, the populace has learned exactly what to do to be “christian” but not what a christian is… I have a lot of friends who claim Christ and then do the opposite because thats the cool thing to do here, if you’re not a “christian” you’re not not cool… As for the great Wards Rd. That has gotten better recently, the city has recently installed this new traffic system that makes it so as one light turns, the others turn consecutively, making traffic flow a lot nicer, though the traffic is still there. Also Liberty has a bridge going over the road for students from panera to walmart, and either Liberty or the city has put a fence keeping students from crossing the road… But yea, i personally can’t wait to get out of here, I love it for my friends and the mountains, and thats about it. Thanks for sharing this insight.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Kyle – thanks for your comment and for sharing a bit of your story. Thanks also for the updates about Wards Road – I hope it helps! Best to you.

  • wh

    You are one ignorant asshole you stupid midwestern pos. The fact that you say all the baloney about my city and people enrages me! You dont know lynchburg or the surrounding areas. There us so such beauty around here besides being “downtown” or w.e the hell you wanted you never went outside the box to find it. You have no room to talk shit about my city or my people like that. You arent from or the south so no wonder you say that cus all yall do is hate on us. Yes, every city has its bads and goods but for you just to write about the bad is complete ignorance. Its easy to be negative but to be positive is alot harder. There is enough negativity around why dont you say sometjing positive?! Oh wait youre too stupid too relize that. So how aboit you never step foot in Lynchburg again, or the south cus we do t need people like you too bring us down! People like you ruin the good in the world! I hope you enjoyed writeing that blog cus to me it was a complete waste of time and total bull shit! Have fun being a negative pos the rest of your life you ignorant midwestern waste of oxygen! Yours truly, a proud Lynchburgian!!
    Sit on it and rotate

    • Lee New

      This person exemplifies everything that is wrong with Lynchburg by their comment. No one is allowed to share their opinions freely without vehement criticism.

  • Tony Bort

    I myself am not huge on Lynchburg. I’m with you for at least 2/3 of what you say. I
    have lived here since 1992 and this town sucks in my opinion but has
    slowly been on the rise since I have been here. LU has helped/hurt this
    town tremendously. I either way despise LU and most of what it brings
    with it, other than the God part. I will leave this town as soon as I
    get the chance, but Lynchburg is making ends meet for me at the moment.
    My job is the only thing keeping me here at the moment. On a side note I
    do believe that your delivery for this blog was awful. Your unnecessary
    over articulate verbiage makes you to come across as smug/snobby. (My
    PG opinion of you in this blog) That really takes away from your cause.
    You made funny points but lighten up a little bit on the thesaurus and
    dictionary and stick more to real world words.

    ver·biage

    noun
    1: speech or writing that contains too many words or that uses words that are more difficult than necessary

    2: speech or writing that uses too many words or excessively technical expressions

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Tony – thanks for your comment! Glad some of it resonated with you and glad you are also optimistic for Lynchburg’s future. As for my language, I understand your dissonance. I’ve been accused of being wordy a time or two.

  • Matthew Legner

    Thank you!! for this post. As a native son of Lynchburg, I agree that the city is an example of poorly planned…everything. I especially appreciate your eloquent and timely statement regarding the confusion between Christianity and Christian culture that is exemplified everywhere in this bizarre, ‘Libertine’ amusement park that is the Burg. The only real complaint I’ve ever had with Liberty is the eyesore of the mountain…but I made a decision to remove myself from the part of town that I don’t agree with when I returned to Lynchburg after eighteen years in the Midwest. I also agreed with the eyes on reality regarding the oddly misplaced subculture of hippie-ism that abounds in certain parts of town. I thought I would hate your post…but I’m glad people that have lived in this sadly isolated part of VA, haven’t lost the ability to think impartially about it.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks, Matt. Glad some of this resonated with you! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

  • George Witzke

    As a new transplant to Lynchburg, I must say, “I wholeheartedly agree.”

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      George – hang in there!

  • Ryan George

    Thanks for writing this. It led to the longest continuous blogging session of my year. http://www.ryangeorge.net/explorience/you-should-move-here-too

    • Nikki Beale

      Great rebuttal

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Ryan – you wrote a great follow-up/rebuttal. I’ve provided a link to it at the end of the blog in the hopes that people will read it. Thanks for letting me know about it.

      • Ryan George

        You were very kind to have done that, Ryan. The comments on my Facebook post to the link has been colorful as well.

        • Ryan Thomas Neace

          Haha. I’m sure it has. I totally expected the negative responses and understand people’s defensiveness. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

  • Benjamin

    I love this post and everything it stands for.
    Side note, if your job is the only thing that’s keeping you there, I’m doing some recruiting for Pioneer in Odessa TX. I actually have a job opening for 50K and you don’t even need a degree. I have better jobs for people that do.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Benjamin – thanks for writing! I’m already out, but what a great offer!

  • Nikki Beale

    I have lived in Lynchburg all my life, born and raised. I could defend my hometown, but that would be rather pointless, seeing as how all of your points are entirely accurate. Lol. It really is just a matter of preference. I could easily visit or relocate to any other location and come up with 10 accurate reasons why that location is not so great. Lynchburg is definitely not for everyone, but hey, it’s home. Good read nonetheless 🙂

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Totally agreed. Glad you love it there!

  • Zeta Dowdy

    This was so fun to read because I have strong opinions about cities and thoroughly enjoy getting worked up over attacking or defending them.

    The “bad driver” thing is a cliché someone has said about every city, so that part made me roll my eyes. The hipster thing is, like you hinted it might be, not confined to Lynchburg and therefore doesn’t belong on such a list. But to lots of things on this list: hell yes.

    My mom’s family is from Lynchburg, so some of my favorite people live there. But, while I love them as individuals, the city as a whole is not really my favorite crowd. It’s not a consensus, but the overall mood there does seem to be “OK – for Lynchburg.” In my mind, it is the capital of settling. This is a crowd that voted Red Lobster as having the best seafood in town (there are legitimately awesome seafood places in town). And now that I’ve gotten started on the food…

    Can we just chill out about La Carreta? Really. Please stop. Is it not just another Mexican restaurant? I’d truly like to hear arguments otherwise.

    That being said, we have here in Charlottesville a similar phenomenon I like to call “Guadalajara syndrome.” This, too, to me is just another Mexican restaurant, among many in this city. But bitches love Mexican, or at least obsessing over specific Mexican restaurants for no apparent reason (I did it in Richmond as a high schooler, always getting PUMPED for Taco Tuesdays at Mexico) so I guess I’ll let that one go.

    Speaking of Charlottesville, we also have a “generic hell.” It is called Bypass-less Route 29. But we don’t worship it the way so many people in Lynchburg worship Wards Road. On a Friday night in Charlottesville, you’ll find more people downtown than you will at Chili’s, but can Lynchburg say the same for its downtown compared to its Olive Garden? No.

    Like this list mentions, there just isn’t enough to keep people in Lynchburg’s downtown, even if you can get them there. An almost-there gem I recently discovered in Lynchburg is the Ellington, a cool music venue with a tragic beer menu. You don’t need Coors and Bud and Miller and Stella and Red Stripe (though I appreciated the latter when I went for a reggae concert) without having a single local beer to break up the monotony, or at least something other than these many variations of see-through lager.

    And then there’s Liberty. I have met some Liberty students who have been shockingly cold and narrow-minded and I have met some Liberty students who are unbelievably sweet, creative, and interesting. But I will say this: The LU on the mountain is hideous and it’s all your fault Lynchburg only has, like, one cool bar.

    But the only reason I criticize Lynchburg is because I love it and all its potential. It’s way prettier than Charlottesville, for one thing, and Lynchburg really has some notable assets. Shout-out to Hot & Cold, Mangia, and Rivermont Pizza. Plus the Lorraine Bakery in the farmers market. And that beautiful river. And the weird geyser fountain. And Blackwater Creek, the best bike trail ever. Also the dollar theater. Obviously my family. And especially Blue Marlin, because if no one else tells you you’re better than Red Lobster, I will.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for your comments!

  • Thacher Jennings

    Try living in the 24503/Boonsboro area of Lynchburg and then re-evaluate your thoughts about Lynchburg. Lynchburg is known for the Boonsboro area. With that being said, here are my thoughts on your articles ten reasons why you’re glad that you don’t live in Lynchburg.

    1. I grew up off of Trents Ferry Road and before I was old enough to drive I used to ride my bike or walk wherever I needed to go. I had no problems with the hills, woods, or bad traffic. I, and all of my friends, would walk through the paths in the woods that generations of youngsters before me had carved, trudge up the hills with smiles on our faces, and cross the roads when there wasn’t a car in sight, eventually reaching our destination of a fast food restaurant or convenience store. Walking to get where I needed to go was not a problem.

    2. I have never heard anyone who isn’t from Lynchburg say that it has a great downtown. Nor have I ever heard someone from Lynchburg say that it has a great downtown. Downtown Lynchburg is not something that we show off or brag about. We understand that our downtown is not what it used to be; we understand that our downtown is not entirely a nice place to be on any given day; however, we are aware that it is being restored. Slowly, yes, but it is getting there. Nightlife in Lynchburg is not a problem for those who look for it. Wanna get drunk of a Tuesday night? Mangia’s, Rivermont Pizza, The Blue Dahlia… any of these bars will be crowded and full of young, attractive, successful people on any given night. In essence, downtown is not the place to go for nightlife. Go where the fun is.

    3. There are cheap, generic, Sysco supplied restaurants everywhere. Lynchburg is no exception. If you have a problem with the food somewhere, don’t go back. If I found a foot long piece of hair in my food I would not eat there anymore. Being a businessman I’m sure that you’re familiar with the idea of maximizing revenue and profits. For some restaurants Sysco is the most cost to consumer efficient way to keep their customers happy. If people are continuing to eat the food that these restaurants produce with the Sysco supplies, then why change? Money talks. Also, there are plenty of restaurants that aren’t supplied by Sysco; and while I can’t say for certain… I’d bet there’s more that aren’t than the number that are.

    4. The Boonsboro area of Lynchburg is not dirty. Downtown is not dirty either. Visit New York city and then see if you think that Lynchburg is still a dirty city. Downtown may have it’s share of hipsters who drop their cig butts on the ground, but drive five minutes down Rivermont Avenue out of downtown and by the time you reach Randolph College it’s a completely new place. It’s not logical to call a city dirty based on a few streets in a downtown area with a few stray pieces of trash blowing around. Now, if you believe that it’s the people who make Lynchburg dirty, namely the “hipsters” as you call them, I would have to disagree. There may be less-wealthy areas that aren’t as clean as other areas, and the people there may be the cause. But those areas are few, and confined to their own section of Lynchburg. Lynchburg as a whole is vastly cleaner than those individual areas. After you get past the bad section of RIvermont, and away from the City Stadium area, Lynchburg is clean, green, and aesthetically pleasing place to travel through, be it by foot or any other means of transportation.

    5. Wards road is one area of Lynchburg that can be completely avoided if necessary. What is on Wards Road alone that isn’t at a different location? If you don’t want to go into “Hell”, then don’t. Not to mention that there are ways to get around it that don’t add on hardly any time to a commute, in fact the alternate routes are often faster than going down Wards Road.

    6. People will be people. Driving is dangerous no matter where you go. Small cities all over the country are strewn with haphazard drivers. Don’t be one yourself and you’ll be fine. If you believe that southern courtesy is the reason that it’s so bad, then I guess it’s a good thing you got out of the South. Stopping and waiting for someone to merge into your lane ahead of you isn’t a bad thing, it’s polite. Hit the brakes, cars behind you will stop, and someone will have their day made just a little bit easier because of it. I’m sure someone has stopped to let you change lanes before, return the favor sometime.

    7. Liberty is more or less confined to the Wards Road area of Lynchburg. As previously stated, if you don’t want to be confronted about being a Christian, don’t go to Wards Road. Never in my life have I had a problem with Liberty students. City Council debates take Liberty into consideration because it’s a part of our city, that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. Liberty brings millions of dollars of consumer consumption into Lynchburg’s economy each year. LU, while many people believe that it’s “taking over Lynchburg”, is actually simply expanding it. Liberty is not growing inward, it’s extending the outskirts; and once again, if you don’t want to deal with Liberty, then don’t go to the Liberty area (Wards Road). LU is not creeping into the heart of Lynchburg, it’s branching out and creating it’s own little section that doesn’t bother those who don’t want to be bothered by it.

    8. Mi Patron/ La Caretta… enough said.

    9. The Mason-Dixon line is a geographical landmark, as you said. If you believe it to be a racial slur, don’t say it. I would be willing to bet that the people that you heard “tossing around the phrase” did not mean for it to have any racial or anti-racial tone. Also, if your time in Virginia was spent hearing that phrase, perhaps you were listening too closely to other people’s conversations. I’ve rarely heard the phrase.

    10. I do believe that I am too young, or too naive to understand what you mean by this. I go to church sometimes, I have friends that never go to church, and I have friends that go to church three times a week; I have never had a problem with the “Christian culture.”

    I thoroughly respect the fact that you are glad that you don’t live in Lynchburg anymore, but it saddens me that you were unable to experience true Lynchburg while you lived here. Lynchburg is a special and great place if you partake in the parts that it is known for. I don’t mean to hate on your list, you clearly put time and effort into it, I simply cannot agree with you. I feel like you were unable to receive the Lynchburg experience that so many others do, and that so many others love. Lastly, I am a nineteen year old college student who attends Hampden-Sydney, who grew up in Lynchburg, so I certainly consider myself biased. I respect your opinion on Lynchburg, I just can’t agree with it. I hope that you will similarly respect mine.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      TL;DR. But thanks for reading and commenting!

      • Lee New

        Let me summarize for you: I grew up/live in Boonsboro so your points do not affect me as much.

        • Ryan Thomas Neace

          Lee – this TL;DR was for Thacher, not you!

      • MmeBB

        “I respect your opinion on Lynchburg, I just can’t agree with it. I hope that you will similarly respect mine.”
        …was the last sentence of this young man’s long but thoughtful comment to your longer criticism of his hometown.
        And you respond with -Too Long;Didn’t Read…

  • Karla Kornicke

    Oh, but can we also take some time to comment on the suckhole that is Amherst County?? Particularly the town of… My God, never have I had a more miserable living experience. Some of that was most likely due to personal dramas in my own life, but fact remains, the town sucks. it is the most insular place I have ever had the great misfortune to visit. You want to live stranded off Business 29 with any place of necessity you need to visit miles off? Amherst is for you. And lest we forget Lynchburg Lite, the great Madison Heights, sandwiched between it’s hillbilly 2nd cousin and it’s Uncle, 10 Exits. 10 stinking exits for a city of 75,000??? EVERYTHING in Lynchburg is impossible to find! Except for Liberty University… if where you must go is 2 miles or less from the exit, you should be just find. Otherwise, prepare to be lost in the land where everything looks the same… Don’t get me wrong, Lynchburg could be enjoyable if shown to you by someone who knows where they are going. Gee, here we go, down the 29 again again because that is the ONLY way into this place, that seeks to entrap you anyway it can. GRAOQHFALHFLAJFLAJFLAJFLALF, Apologies, but me no likey.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Karla,
      I had to laugh at this. You’re certainly expressing a sentiment I heard on more than one occasion. Thanks for reading!

  • tomnphoenix

    Are you for real?…If it’s so terrible why the hell did you spend 13 YEARS living there? And bashing the entire state of Virginia? I guess you’d be happy in the DC burbs where there’s an illegal alien at every intersection begging for your pocket change. Of course your silly article wouldn’t be complete without bashing Christians. Why don’t you head north and pen a piece on Jew infested Potomac, Maryland….I guess that wouldn’t be politically correct. I’ll say one thing, Lynchburg, Va is a much better city without the likes of some arrogant A-H*le like you living there.

  • Eduardo Sanchez

    Virginia Sucks Maryland Rules. The End.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      🙂

  • Amanda Moseley

    Spot on. Thanks for sharing. Personally, I love it here but I do not disagree with anything you have written.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for reading Amanda!

  • tomnphoenix

    Why is it ok to bash Christians?….Would you dare write a blog about a majority jewish community like Potomac, Maryland (Where the drivers are 10 times worse I assure you) or a muslim community like Dearborn, Michigan? Of course not….your life would be threatened and you’d be FORCED to move out of town to avoid being murdered. The fact is that the people of Lynchburg have tolerated people like you because they recognize a small minded, group obsessed liberal knat when they see one and they respect your right to be an idiot!!

  • Tim Patterson

    Hey Ryan, humorously snarky piece and fun to read. Too bad the tone (not
    to mention the grammar) of so many leaving comments keep providing more
    reasons to not wanna live here. I turned 59 this past March.
    Forty-eight of those fifty-nine Summers (and Springs, Falls and Winters)
    have been lived right here in river city. In fact, that’s a BIG
    positive for this region
    – all four seasons, but not too much of any one. It’s all so glorious
    to see and smell and feel, one could easily digress from the point of
    your post (what was that again? wink). Though some of your “complaints”
    might seem appropriately silly (“Mexican Food” or “Dirty Is The New
    Cool”),
    others touch (if only briefly) upon a world of hubris and despoiling
    (“Okay For Lynchburg,” “Generic Hell” or the all-devouring “Liberty”
    thang). I could rather think of “10 Reasons I Wish I DIDN’T Live In
    Lynchburg, Which Semi-ironically Inform My Desires To Stay”
    – all of which would be to say, the history of one’s life lived in a
    particular
    place and time, in particular relationships sustained (and/or fractured)

    over time – over much time – uniquely (if not increasingly less
    regularly today) defines, enlarges and plumbs what is valuable,
    beautiful and necessary in genuinely thriving human community. Lynchburg
    being the center of the universe and all that, you probably just left
    here in too much of a hurry to find an authentic Mexican restaurant. Tsk-tsk.

    • Lee New

      Damn it man, which Mexican restaurant is the “authentic” one and nicely written too. 😉

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Tim – thanks for taking the time to comment. You are wise as and insightful as usual. Bless you sir!

  • Qiana Hill

    Forget your mini-disclaimer at the end. I AM a native Lynchburger (born and raised) and I agree with just about everything you said. Everything besides the part about the hipsters…because that is not just a Lynchburg problem, lol. I’m living in San Diego, eating good Mexican food, and enjoying sensible weather right now marveling at how many people keep trying to convince me to move back to Lynchburg, VA. Craziness….

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Qiana,
      Well, it seems there are many like you! And to be fair, many who disagree with us. But I’m glad you resonated with this piece and love SD (who doesn’t?!). Thanks for reading.

    • TimothyOnline

      ^^^^^^^ THIS…FTW!!!

  • Lee New

    Hilarious take on life in Lynchburg and I generally agree with all that you have written, although some points strike closer to home than others for me.

    1. Yes Lynchburg is a great place to raise kids if you happen to be white, conservative, Christian and affluent, but lacking those descriptors, not as much. I don’t care so much about walkability as that is simply a geographic feature of the City of Seven Hills that most born and raised (since 1958 for me) Lynchburgers have simply grown accustomed to. You can blame Mother Nature for that!

    Actually, cultural diversity has improved a lot over the past 50 years and I will give credit to LU and the other colleges for improving that factor, but, No, we are now allowed to celebrate anything other than beer, wine and history here for the most part.

    There’s actually a lot of Christian charity and you only have to be another Christian to be on the receiving end of it! (That’s tongue-in-cheek for the more literal readers)

    2. No, Lynchburg does not have a great downtown; however, we are in Decade One of a three-decade revitalization plan and while I may not live long enough to enjoy that I feel optimistic that my grandchildren, of which I have none, will. I often long to see in downtown Lynchburg exactly what Charlottesville has in their Downtown Mall, which is a very walkable destination with lots of interesting things to do, see, drink and buy. I am curious to know what the food to alcohol ratio is in other towns like Charlottesville.

    3. “Eh, this is good enough” should probably be submitted for consideration as Lynchburg’s new official slogan. Sadly, I have been to larger metropolitan areas and a few similarly-sized areas that seem to have a little more to brag about in the way of art, music, restaurant and nightlife options. We’re working on it.

    4. I would just like to thank you for selecting my ex-girlfriend’s new husband’s picture for inclusion in the “dirty Lynchburg hipster section”; however, this part doesn’t really bother me because at least they’re colorful and hipster is the new hippie!

    5. Yes, Lynchburg is still a generic Hell due to money trumping diversity, but so are a thousand other cities in the same general population size range. The cool ones like Charlottesville and Harrisonburg, VA; Asheville and Chapel Hill, NC; Lancaster, PA; Marietta, GA; Lawrence, KS; Eugene, OR or Redmond, WA are really few and far between, especially in southeastern US.

    6. Oh come on! Bad drivers are everywhere. Lynchburg is not distinguished by this except between the hours of 4 and 6pm on the Expressway or any other road leading out of town!

    7. The fact that Lynchburg has gradually grown from a city where Jerry Falwell started his first small church on Thomas Rd. in the 1950’s to the Christian fundamentalist epicenter of America is of great concern to me. Being liberal and having voted for our Democratically-elected President I am under the constant threat of persecution for even daring to express my own views openly. Logic, reason, science and common sense are not useful in combatting the faux Christian nonsense that spews from the Thomas Road Baptist Church-Liberty University political machine that sits on the rudely scarred mountains of the Southern Overlords who remind me of Saruman of Mordor with his Nazgûl hordes. Too much?

    Many of the LU students are a welcome addition to our city as they are very decent, kind, polite, helpful kids who simply want a good education, but others are of the “live by the Bible, die by the Bible” sort and they scare me a lot. I miss the “old school” Christians that were not interested in injecting religious beliefs into politics and lived by the Golden Rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” I think this is one rule that we should all try to live by.

    8. Would someone please open an “authentic” Mexican-style restaurant already so I can see what all of the buzz is about? I love La Caretta no matter what kind of cuisine it is and I have never seen the Sysco truck, so thanks a lot for ruining that for me! 😛

    9. Yes, we’re Southern and still regret having lost the Civil War, but as long as we aren’t parading around with Confederate flags and are at least outwardly treating our 30% African-American community with respect and courtesy I don’t think this aspect is ever really going to change much and many would argue that is a large part of what distinguishes Lynchburg from other small towns on the “wrong side” of the Mason-Dixon Line. We also love our own history!

    10. See #7. I still have to live here!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks so much for these thoughtful remarks. I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said here per se.

      • Lee New

        Ryan, this is an accidental duplicate post of mine. If you able to delete it, please do. Thanks.

  • Lee New

    Hilarious take on life in Lynchburg and I generally agree with all that you have written, although some points strike closer to home than others for me.

    1. Yes Lynchburg is a great place to raise kids if you happen to be white, conservative, Christian and affluent, but lacking those descriptors, not as much. I don’t care so much about walkability as that is simply a geographic feature of the City of Seven Hills that most born and raised (since 1958 for me) Lynchburgers have simply grown accustomed to. You can blame Mother Nature for that!

    Actually, cultural diversity has improved a lot over the past 50 years and I will give credit to LU and the other colleges for improving that factor, but, No, we are not allowed to celebrate anything other than beer, wine and history here for the most part.

    There’s actually a lot of Christian charity and you only have to be another Christian to be on the receiving end of it! (That’s tongue-in-cheek for the more literal readers)

    2. No, Lynchburg does not have a great downtown; however, we are in Decade One of a three-decade revitalization plan and while I may not live long enough to enjoy that I feel optimistic that my grandchildren, of which I have none, will. I often long to see in downtown Lynchburg exactly what Charlottesville has in their Downtown Mall, which is a very walkable destination with lots of interesting things to do, see, drink and buy. I am curious to know what the food to alcohol ratio is in other towns like Charlottesville.

    3. “Eh, this is good enough” should probably be submitted for consideration as Lynchburg’s new official slogan. Sadly, I have been to larger metropolitan areas and a few similarly-sized areas that seem to have a little more to brag about in the way of art, music, restaurant and nightlife options. We’re working on it.

    4. I would just like to thank you for selecting my ex-girlfriend’s new husband’s picture for inclusion in the “dirty Lynchburg hipster section”; however, this part doesn’t really bother me because at least they’re colorful and hipster is the new hippie!

    5. Yes, Lynchburg is still a generic Hell due to money trumping diversity, but so are a thousand other cities in the same general population size range. The cool ones like Charlottesville and Harrisonburg, VA; Asheville and Chapel Hill, NC; Lancaster, PA; Marietta, GA; Lawrence, KS; Eugene, OR or Redmond, WA are really few and far between, especially in southeastern US.

    6. Oh come on! Bad drivers are everywhere. Lynchburg is not distinguished by this except between the hours of 4 and 6pm on the Expressway or any other road leading out of town!

    7. The fact that Lynchburg has gradually grown from a city where Jerry Falwell started his first small church on Thomas Rd. in the 1950’s to the Christian fundamentalist epicenter of America is of great concern to me. Being liberal and having voted for our Democratically-elected President I am under the constant threat of persecution for even daring to express my own views openly. Logic, reason, science and common sense are not useful in combating the faux Christian nonsense that spews from the Thomas Road Baptist Church-Liberty University political machine that sits on the rudely scarred mountains of the Southern Overlords who remind me of Saruman of Mordor with his Nazgûl hordes. Too much?

    Many of the LU students are a welcome addition to our city as they are very decent, kind, polite, helpful kids who simply want a good education, but others are of the “live by the Bible, die by the Bible” sort and they scare me a lot. I miss the “old school” Christians that were not interested in injecting religious beliefs into politics and lived by the Golden Rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” I think this is one rule that we should all try to live by.

    8. Would someone please open an “authentic” Mexican-style restaurant already so I can see what all of the buzz is about? I love La Caretta no matter what kind of cuisine it is and I have never seen the Sysco truck, so thanks a lot for ruining that for me! 😛

    9. Yes, we’re Southern and still regret having lost the Civil War, but as long as we aren’t parading around with Confederate flags and are at least outwardly treating our 30% African-American community with respect and courtesy I don’t think this aspect is ever really going to change much and many would argue that is a large part of what distinguishes Lynchburg from other small towns on the “wrong side” of the Mason-Dixon Line. We also love our own history!

    10. See #7. I still have to live here!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Lee – all fair points. You are a voice of reason in the midst of the commenting chaos! Thanks for your thoughtfulness!

      • Lee New

        Thanks. I never hear that from anyone around here for anything that I type online. Sometimes it seems as though ad hominem attacks are the “go to” tactic for those defending their way of life here, often without even fully reading or thinking about what I have posted.

  • Caitlin

    The (many) comments left below by Lynchburg natives perfectly sum up why I hated living in Lynchburg and why Ryan’s post is so accurate–people in Lynchburg are closed-minded. (YES I am generalizing–I shouldn’t have to state that, but apparently many people who like to comment also like to skim and make assumptions.) In my experience, people in Lynchburg are very accepting, when you think like them, act like them, and pray like them. However, these comments perfectly display that many people of Lynchburg, especially those who say they LOVE it, are the quickest to not only judge, but lash out at a person they don’t know for a sentiment they disagree with. There is no acceptance of people, opinions, perspectives that differ from their own. Worst of all, no one seems to be able to voice their opinion in a healthy way that could foster growth and understanding–it’s all about shutting the other person down and huffing and puffing at how offended you are that someone else dare speak an opinion that is different from yours. In Lynchburg, people seem to think that any opposing voice is directly aimed at attacking their belief system, which they are quick to defend. In this case, it’s by chastising the writer of a BLOG (read: opinion piece–with many disclaimers at the top explaining the post’s intent for those who might not understand what a blog is…) not by his opinion, but his language choice! Are you kidding me?
    Thank you, commenters from Lynchburg, for reminding me exactly why I loathe this town.

    • Lee New

      Well said.

    • Aaron Smith

      Spot on

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      I appreciate this. Thanks!

    • Eric Brookman

      Very true statement.

  • Vincent Graham

    Hi there. I’m from Lynchburg and I have a cousin who’s also from Lynchburg but she moved to Chicago about two years ago. Recently, we were talking and she said something along the lines of “at least in Chicago I know when people are being nice… not just faking it.” I took offense to this. Can you help me understand? I know when me and another person don’t get along. Is it wrong to ‘just be nice’ (phony or fake) instead of bickering about trivial things?

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Vincent – I just think culturally some areas are trained to not openly convey signs of what they’re really feeling. It’s not entirely fair to label it as out and out “wrong” because it is a cultural nuance (as I stated in the piece as well), but it is off-putting for people who genuinely want to know how someone feels but don’t feel like they’re getting the full picture. Like most cultural phenomenon, people aren’t generally aware they behave this way until someone from another culture points it out, and it’s usually a bit hurtful when they do.

      • Lee New

        Christians in the street, but bigots back at home/Facebook.

  • Kelly Good Singleton

    I lived in Lynchburg from 1998-2004, and a lot of points in your article rang true with me. I did make some lifelong friends there and I am glad for the opportunity to live there and meet those folks.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Fair enough, Kelly! Glad some of this resonated.

  • Kyle

    Very well written article here. Many of the things you say are true about Lynchburg. I’ve had the misfortune of living here all my life, and I say that with mixed feelings. There have been many good times for me here, but a majority of times there is a lack of entertainment and interest. As much as Lynchburg itself strives to be that “hip college town”, it fails miserably and ends up being a bunch of colleges with various students all vomiting over one another. You are spot on with the animosity against Liberty, and that too I have mixed feelings about as well. Lynchburg truly was little more than a place you passed on the way to some bigger city, and once Liberty implanted itself, it started to grow, two fold, however, with as much growth is attributed to Liberty, there is a heavy overtone of dominance within our city. For those who’ve lived here forever, it feels as though the city accommodates Liberty’s students more-so than the citizens who live here. The biggest problem I see with it is that Liberty drivers probably make up the majority of terrible drivers here in Lynchburg. Roads such as Wards, Timberlake, etc need to be widened and modernized to accommodate such growth, but thus far there’s been no talk about it. As far as the “fixation” on southern culture, that’s something you will find almost anywhere here in the south, and it becomes more apparent the further south you go. I come from a bloodline attached to the south, my great, great, great, great, great grandfather fought for the confederacy, however, our family has always been too poor to afford slaves (not that we condone that sort of thing), but the civil war had as little to do with slavery as our love of heritage has to do with fixation. If you read your history a little better, you’ll realize there were slaves in the north during the same time, and that the civil war amounted to little more than the North being upset that the south wished to secede and preserve a way of life. The north did not want to lose our agriculture or other various industries. Aside from that, don’t get me wrong, I grew up in Lynchburg, and it’s my home, but out of all the places I could want to live, Lynchburg is NOT one of them. At heart, I feel that I belong in places more akin to being between California and Texas. Good article, although some parts may not be accurate, you’ve done a good job compiling all the things I hate about Lynchburg into one readable text. Thumbs up.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for sharing your story, Kyle! I understand where you’re coming from, and I don’t think I said anything about slaves above.

  • Jenna leister

    I lived in Lynchburg from 96 to 2014 were I moved back to home in oxford pa that is were I grow up and call it home it’s a small town but home and I couldn’t agree more I grad from e. c.glass in 03 and I really agree with this blog I honestly wouldn’t ever call Lynchburg my home and don’t want to move back there’s nothing there for me especially in a town run by Lu yes I got the privilege of meeting jerry Falwell and attended church there but let’s face it he ran the town not saying a bad thing but the truth there isn’t nite life there other then going to the pool hall and restaurants there’s no actual bars there there’s no real hangout places there other then restaurant/bars which gets pricy at that kind of place were I live I can go sit down chill with friends and have a drink at a bar and spend 20 for a couple of drinks without braking myself plus the fact I have mentally changing myself to better me as in mtf transgender and I wouldn’t be welcome back

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for sharing your story and for reading, Jenna!

  • Caleb Zickefoose

    Okay i don’t know if anyone mentioned this or not, but the argument about Sysco was a bit off. Yes Sysco supplies for chain restaurants and such, but not all they sell is reheatable preservative laden food. As a farm to table chef who has done many orders through them, they have lines of rather authentic foods and higher quality foods. Many of the higher quality foods even come from local sources. I’m not a Sysco advocate or anything. And going to the source of the food is always better, but just because you see Sysco, doesn’t mean that they are ordering the same foods as Applebee’s.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Fair enough. Thanks for your input, Caleb!

  • Maria Jackson

    As a resident of Lynchburg, I really related to everything that you said. I think it’s about time that somebody really stated the fact that there is a huge problem in progressing with our town of Lynchburg. Liberty University has completely tried to change Lynchburg into Liberty berg as you have so cleverly stated. I think it’s time for our elected officials and council people to stop pushing their own agenda and really make Lynchburg a town for the new growing generation of young people that want to stay here but really are not giving any reason to stay here.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for your comment, Maria – glad you could relate!

  • Kaitlyn Pendleton

    I am a Lynchburg native (or rather Madison Heights which is it’s sad, backwards second-cousin) and I’ve lived here for all but four years when I made my home in Williamsburg while I attended the College of William and Mary. As a teen, all I ever wanted to do was escape, but unfortunately because of unforeseen family circumstances I returned after college and have spent the last two years here trying to make a start in my career. I can’t personally attest to all your reasonings but I have certainly experienced in most of them in some form over the years (e.g. my initial excitement but eventual disenchantment with Downtown, the looming presence of Liberty, and the strangling effect of “Christian Culture’s” impact on Lynchburg’s Christian population). What I would like to add though is what I have found most frustrating in my time here: our arts culture. I am a filmmaker. That’s what I went to school for. It’s what I’ve dreamed of doing since I was 14, but Lynchburg has consistently bashed my dreams in two ways. One, the majority of the population that I have encountered doesn’t understand or appreciate the arts in the way that young, aspiring artists need it to so that my career plans tend to be trivialized as “fantasy” and “wishful thinking” that I just need to get over and use my talents for something practical. And two, the largest arts movement in Lynchburg does, in fact, come from Liberty and Christian Culture; however, not being a Liberty grad (although a Christian and Baptist at that), I have found it incredibly difficult to enter the industry even through that local avenue. Instead, my best luck has been finding a project manager and video editor position as part of a small production team within a larger local business. It is certainly a good place to start, but like many other arts opportunities in Lynchburg, there is very little room for growth or career advancement. I can certainly say there are many things that I love about Lynchburg like you have suggested (including the fact that all of my family resides here), but it is unfortunately not the ideal place for a less conservative young Christian with desires for a career in the arts and entertainment industry. For all the negative comments I’ve seen, I want you to know that just as many people I know who would agree with you. Thank-you for your reflection!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Kaitlyn,
      Thanks for taking the time to respond. I appreciate you sharing a bit of your story. I hope very much that things go better for you as it seems you’ve got a lot to offer. And thanks for the support! I suppose all of the negativity is to be expected – I’m taking it in stride. 😉 Thanks for reading!

    • Lee New

      Great post Kaitlyn!

  • Kevin Christian

    This guy is such a Pompous Ass it’s actually funny….To think this mean-spirited person is a Couselor , Profeessor , and sadly a Father teaching his children to put down and ridicule ( Great Parenting Skills there Ryan….insert sarcasm )…. Maybe teach Love and understanding and possibly finding the good in everything instead of the bad…..Horrible

    • Kevin Christian

      And To Boot as so called Christian ( Maybe ready the teachings of Jesus )

  • Taylor Morrison

    I live in Appomattox, so I understand this completely.! If people are jumping on you saying life is what you make it- that’s why you moved.! I can’t wait till I get out of here.! I especially agree with the wards road driving issues- it’s like people forget how to drive on that road, crazy people. Without fail, every time I go on that road I witness at least two accidents.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for reading, Taylor! Glad this resonated with you!

    • TimothyOnline

      “If people are jumping on you saying life is what you make it- that’s why you moved.!”

      ….SERIOUSLY!

  • Kat Caw

    When I first read this article I must admit I was hurt and offended. However, after reading the other comments I realized how closed minded I was being. I’m just ultimately sad now, that my city has failed you. I wish I could show you all the great things about Lynchburg that I see. But I also wish I could see all the greatness of other cities that make Lynchburg inferior. Lynchburg has not been my only home, and my previous hometown was so much worse than this one. I guess that’s why I feel so fortunate to live here. I’m happy you have moved on to a better place, but it is a little disappointing because by the sounds of things you could have been a great advocate for the city to make it a better place. Best wishes to you and your family.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Kat – thanks for your thoughtful comment. Lynchburg does have many great things to offer. The notion that I took 10 of its faults and laid them out shouldn’t be an indicator to the contrary. I did my best to advocate while I was there, as most who knew me could tell you. Glad you read and commented!

  • Carrie Wright

    10 Reasons Lynchburg is Glad You’re Not a Resident:

    1. The families who are being raised here are much better off without complaining transplants who would rather choose to stay here and make it miserable for everyone else. As a kid raised in the outskirts, I witnessed rednecks and black people struggle with their identities and differences. And I gained a better perspective and appreciation for culture, understanding and understanding who you are while embracing the differences around you. We’re sorry what you saw isn’t what you got. But we’re really glad what we saw in you isn’t what we’re left with.

    We welcome transplants all the time. Much of the “city” is accustomed to a flow of traffic that come and stay for a time. We embrace those who choose to take up residence in our hometown. We bid you farewell when you feel you’ve outgrown our town.

    2.There’s a certain novelty about “downtown” in the heart of any city. Lynchburg doesn’t boast a great downtown. It’s not. So knowing who we are and what we have – or don’t have – to offer, is the first step to admitting there’s a problem. (Or maybe the problem is all in how you perceive things.) I, too, was a former business owner on that sprawling nightmare. Ironically, when this business was sold to a new owner, she moved it to downtown Main Street. I admit I had my doubts and thought surely it was a foolish move. I stand corrected more than 6 years later as she has made a name for herself with a thriving, growing business.

    Downtown isn’t great. We know this. We visit there for a few novelty shops and restaurants that are rising above to make it better than what most hoped or expected. We’re thankful for them. It seems you are, too, at least the few shout outs you gave.

    I work for a thriving “chain” restaurant. Our sales our through the roof, more than doubling what the corporate office thought we’d do annually. In Lynchburg!

    3. It’s sad, isn’t it? Small businesses trying to make it and, as you said, closing their doors before others even knew they existed. It’s not so much the town. The scatter locations, the various “outskirts,” seem to all contribute. Then again, having worked with hundreds of small businesses trying to help them advertise and “make it” a lot of it just boils down to a business owner with a GREAT idea and not a lot of help marketing. There’s some capitalism when it comes to that, though. A few who have made a name for themselves that choose who they will market, who will be “the best of the best,” and certainly who won’t.

    4. The bearded rednecks. Thank you, Duck Dynasty, for making “dirty” the new cool. I am certainly not one to celebrate it. The stand-out hippies. Surely they are attempting to send a message while not wanting to be noticed yet actually really seeking attention. Kids these days. These are the embarrassing #tbt pictures that will inevitably haunt them in a decade. I don’t think this is solely in Lynchburg, though, at least not from the vast travels and cities and states I’ve explored. I dare say we aren’t embracing it. Rather, those “Liberty vs. Lynchburg” kids are usually the ones witnessing to them.

    5. I used to be a cheerleader in the field that is not “Hell-Mart.” I can recall the dynamite blasts that were required to remove the rock that was hidden beneath the earth so they could clear the land for the first of the box stores. Somehow one wasn’t enough, so they built them in the outskirts, too. Across town. They remodeled other box stores in other parts of town. You think traffic on Wards Road is bad – have you been down 221 or Timberlake?! Clearly there are SO MANY PEOPLE flocking to this area that we need MORE townhouses and apartments. Clearly. You’d think we’d stay away from that generic hell. And yet we don’t. We flock to it for shopping, eating, regular errands. We muddle through the stop lights, traffic and poorly designed traffic patterns. Why? Because this is where we live, work, shop and eat.

    6. You want to know what I hate? Those left hand drivers who go 10 miles UNDER the speed limit. Stupid is as stupid does, right? I recall sitting in 3 hours of traffic to go 20 miles in Los Angeles. Trying to drive 6 people, 3 of them children, to the Bronx Zoo was like being one of those zoo animals displaced from its original habitat and transplanted to navigate some unknown territory, dodging cars, stopping and going, slamming on brakes, being cut off, flipped off, cussed at. All for the sake of saving – a few minutes?! I’ll keep my life and get there late, I guess. I can’t even begin to tell you how dirty that place was. Let’s not even talk about D.C. Downtown? Forget it! Oh yes, it’s a wonderful city to walk around. I simply love all the quaint cafes, the Starbucks on every corner and the amazing cuisine. TRULY AMAZING DINING!! I love to visit there, for a day, then come home to my quiet cul de sac just on the outskirts of my generic hell.

    7. Lyncnburg has some of those “born and raised” generations with blood running through their veins who forever will oppose anything from “Jerry Falwell.” They have yet to realize he died almost 7 years ago. Certainly the path now being carved out by his son and his namesake is similar, and yet so very different. Have you heard that Liberty is trying to bring a Civic Center to campus and town? Can you just imagine the controversy, battle and debate?! Good thing you don’t have to hear about it on the local news since you’re no longer local.

    8. It was an quincinera in El Paso, Texas. I will never forget the authentic, fresh, homemade Mexican food. I will probably never taste it again, unless I go back. My husband and I visit a locally owned Mexican restaurant at least one, maybe twice, a week. It’s not the same as that which I enjoyed just miles from the Mexican border. I can’t really expect it to be. But it’s our little place. Lynchburg’s, that is. And the crazy thing is- it’s always PACKED! They have a number of them all over town, new ones popping up every time you turn around. Somehow this disappointing tex-mex is thriving in a town that embraces and supports this small business and thanks them for an albeit small taste of culture. For some in Lynchburg who will never travel to El Paso, it’s good enough for them.

    9. Remember those rednecks I mentioned going to school with? They were waving their rebel flags. They were teenagers. They only knew what their families had taught them. They didn’t yet have their own ideals. I’m thankful I saw hate, because it taught me to love. That “breath of fresh air” above the Mason-Dixon line is somehow smothering to me when you try to throw a multitude of cultures together and instead of getting acceptance, you get even more segregation. Oh yes, no one “judges;” they just turn the other way. I’d rather be friends.

    10. I saw a few guys witnessing to a family in Wal-mart the other night. I felt certain this was probably their Evangelism assignment. And yet I stopped to pray as seeds were being planted, however contrived the situation might have been. Ironically, you are teaching Christian education to people all across the country for this Liberty vs. Lynchburg mentality, just as I am. We are colleagues. We don’t have to share the same faith, religion, beliefs, and thank goodness, the same city. But I do pray we share the same God as Lord and Savior so that whatever differences of opinions, we can ultimately stand undivided as brothers and sisters in Christ.

    • TimothyOnline

      ” I recall sitting in 3 hours of traffic to go 20 miles in Los Angeles…”

      …With better weather, more things to do, the nation’s trend-setters, all the music concerts you could ever want, and all-around more reasons to be alive! I’d tolerate L.A. traffic any day of the week living there as opposed to the soul-sucking pit known as Lynchburg.

  • Kristina Hall Whitesell

    Please watch the “Happy Lynchburg” video that I saw just after reading your post! Maybe they are happy you left! JUST KIDDING!!! You made some good points, but I’ll have to say that most of them are found in any city. Lynchburg is not that big, so we can’t really imitate big cities in terms of transit. Also, it does not have an interstate highway. That makes a really big impact on cultural diversity. I agree with your statement about the LU v. Lynchburg tensions. I’m finally starting to see signs that the city recognizes what LU does and can do for the local economy and atmosphere if they work together. Too many bitter people get in the way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeCDoWQCZR4#t=260

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for this, Kristina! Loved it!

    • Lee New

      That video is the single best piece of Lynchburg public relations that I have ever seen and it’s perfectly ironic that it came out at the same time that Ryan decided to write his humorous blog piece!

  • Heather Noyes

    Ryan: I totally agree with everything in this blog. I am a transplant from the West, and I have seen oh so many weirds with this city. History aside, I told my husband (who grew up here in the Lynchburg area), that I didn’t understand how so many graveyards could be next to churches in the city. Where I’m from, and where I’ve been before Virginia didn’t prepare me for this.

    The religious culture is incredible. I have seen so many people who aren’t charitable, but claim christian faith. Their charity requires the whole church to look on and see it, praise it. That’s not charity, that’s self proclamation. No one needs that. The so called assistance programs require so much and do so very little, it makes it harder to live in any way other than on the street if you don’t already have money moving into Lynchburg. I came up from Florida four years ago and for a while my son and I were homeless. The poor in this city are lucky if they ever get to subsistence living.

    I am living proof Lynchburgers can’t drive. Three years ago, I was struck (while walking) by a car that had to go off road on Lakeside Drive near the VA Clinic in order to almost but not quite break my arm. I’m made of tough stuff or having an SUV hit me would have done more damage than a little crack. Thank you to the driver of the pale SUV the day of the ‘Earthquake’, you got away with it because Lynchburg Police didn’t care enough about the girl trying to get help to actually pursue you seriously.

    I didn’t know about the food to alcohol ratio, how does Phase 2 manage to be a bar and restaurant and venue? It’s the only ‘night life’ other than Big Licks, and even that’s just sad.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      WOW. Thanks for sharing, Heather. The food to alcohol thing is real, and it’s state-wide. Maybe Phase 2 isn’t considered a bar -it is more like you said, a venue, as in a banquet center? Who knows?! Thanks for reading.

    • Lee New

      You nailed it.

    • TimothyOnline

      Big Lick’s (at least on the Thursday nights I’ve ben there) is a Consumer Cellular commercial. I wonder if the excessive volume from the PA system violates OSHA standards for the staff.

  • Justin Berkley

    Ryan, as a therapist in the area (and a lifelong Lynchburg resident) I think your points are well taken. The largest problem (that you sorta hit on in several points) is homogeneity. Our town is mainly comprised of people who think, feel, look, and act alike. To your points-

    1) The “south of the mason-dixon” paradigm: You’ve got to remember that the yesteryear that Lynchburg’s oldest money are pining for were really phenomenal yesteryears. Lynchburg served as the capital of a confederacy on the run (and later Danville) because these were major economic centers not just for Virginia, but for the entire south, and west, and north (via tax revenues). The way you wrote your comment on this intimates that Lynchburgers are pining for the yesteryears because of the social and cultural atrocities that were being carried out that time and while the two are inextricable (you couldn’t have had the cotton, tobacco, or sugar industries as they existed in the 1800’s without slavery), the way you put it seemed reductive and cruel.
    2) The food and nightlife is terrible. I play jazz and regularly have to travel out of town for paying playing opportunities (recently took a good paying gig in West Virginia!). Restaurant owners don’t see live music as an investment in creating a brand identity or even an occasional treat for their patrons.There is a small contingent of talent in the area that could support a music “scene” but the chicken and egg argument comes up really quickly- do we not have enough bands because there isn’t enough talent or do we have the talent that doesn’t form playing groups because of the lack of opportunity. Lynchburg, as a whole, does not value live entertainment and when they do- it tends to be culturally-centric. We like musicals with happy endings that feature mainly white people.
    3) Drivers- you forgot the chronic “I must stop at every yield because there’s red on the sign.” When you’re coming up on any of those tight exchanges (especially near the Wards exits), there is no telling how many cars will be at a dead stop for no justifiable reason. As a lifelong resident, I have often dreamed of owning a tank specifically for the purposes of removing and/or flattening drivers who impede traffic needlessly.
    3) The Liberty v. Lynchburg and Christian Culture arguments might as well have been one point. Full disclosure, I took 2 graduate classes at Liberty to round out counseling electives and so I’ve spent some time on campus and consider one of the classes I took to be of great value. I, in no way, am saying this to minimize the value of the education that can be attained there. That said, the problem with ultra-conservatism and the politicization of religious views isn’t so much that you’re not permitted to do so by the First Amendment as it is the underlying belief that “if you’re not for us, you’re against us.” Most of the religious and political right in Lynchburg takes that even farther to say “if you’re even mildly ambivalent about us, you’re against us.” Lynchburg is a microcosm of the entire conservative/GOP political system in that they’ve refused to moderate in the past several elections and therefore only gained the support and votes of like-minded people. No one can argue (what am I saying?!? This is a blog, of course they can!) that Mitt Romney was a highly electable candidate based on his record until the overwhelming pressures from his party kicked in and he moved too far right.
    3a) As a mental health professional- the biggest problem with a Christian Culture is that it forces people to act and do in a way that might contradict intrinsic beliefs about themselves. Not starting the gay argument, or the nature v. nurture argument, just saying that I’ve seen considerable problems with people trying to live in a way that they’ve been told they “should” because of the importance of conforming to the prevailing Christian Culture, quite a few people have lived very difficult lives in Lynchburg because of this.
    4) Good enough- Lynchburg is highly risk aversive and fairly narrow minded when it comes to economic development. I’m not sure it is apathy, as you suggested as much as it fear of the unknown. We’re still very much industrially minded when it comes to attracting new industries or supporting startup culture. Who’s the last Fortune 500 tech startup that you can remember coming out of Lynchburg? Instead, we’re still focused on “how many widgets can we make?” which also contributes to your point on Generic Hell. Olive Garden and Applebees have proven, safe, and generally profitable business models compared to a gastropub run by 30-something hipsters or a Peruvian/Sushi fusion bar illuminated solely with neon.
    5) The untouched topic- Lynchburg has a major, systemic, generational, pervasive, and largely unaddressed mental health problem that sets its roots in the early 1900’s with the founding of the Central Virginia Home for Epileptics and the Feeble Minded (what is now the Central Virginia Training Center). For all of the groundbreaking developments in the human rights movement that have come out of institutions like CVTC, it must be mentioned that those developments came out of necessity as the way we treated the mentally ill and intellectually disabled during the nascent years of psychology were atrocious. Our region utilizes more long-term state psychiatric beds than any other region in the Commonwealth despite having a relatively small population compared to Tidewater, Richmond, or NOVA. Still, issues of suicide, cutting, mental health concerns, substance abuse and dependence, psychiatric medications, even organic conditions like dementia are swept under the rug, not discussed, kept as “family secrets,” and generally viewed as ugly outliers from our happy city.

    I think for these reasons, Lynchburg feels more like a big town than a small city. Even so much so that we often refer to “going to the city” as a trip to Richmond, or Roanoke, or DC.

    Now, the positives. The companies that do well here (the main industries) do really well and provide steady, median to high wages for a lot of people. B&W, Nationwide, Centra, Liberty U, Harris and the like employ a ton of people.

    Lynchburg is beautiful in a very natural way, its not a contrived or manufactured beauty. I’m looking out of my office window right now at the cherry blossoms and dogwoods in bloom and it serves as a subtle reminder to take a minute and breathe (despite the pollen). Access to the Blue Ridge Pkwy, Peaks of Otter, Smith Mountain Lake, etc. is relatively easy and every year, people migrate from states away to come see the natural beauty of our region. Having been to St. Louis, the arch is nice, the baseball stadium’s great, the brewery’s cool, but outside city limits- its flat and not especially pretty. Don’t forget that the original gateway to the west was the Appalachian Mountains.

    Lynchburg residents, are generally nice people. It’s a rare occurrence around here to run into a real A-hole. People in this town will stop to help you if you seem lost. They’ll pull over and help someone with a flat tire. I ran out of gas once here as a teenager and a guy pulled over with his lawn equipment truck, got his gas can out and gave me a couple of gallons just to be nice.

    Lynchburg has a very low crime rate and if you take out drug related crime, its nearly non-existent.

    Lynchburg and the surrounding counties have a laughable cost of living compared to the major metropolitan areas in Virginia. When friends from DC drive through our brick McMansion neighborhoods, they ask “how many millionaires live in this city?” When we tell them that these houses are priced in the $300-400k’s, they can’t believe it.

    “Traffic” as it exists in Lynchburg is very manageable- as you said, you can get nearly anywhere in 20 minutes, taking a number of routes, even during high commute times.

    Keep up the great work & all the best.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Justin – I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said here, including the positive points. Thanks for reading!

    • Lee New

      Very well stated.

  • FredTheCatTravels

    All those idiots that still live in Lynchburg are going to fry your ass for this piece. You are exactly right and they are backwoods, redneck hicks.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Ouch. Thanks for reading, Fred!

  • Rick Foutz

    I guess the phrase “different strokes for different folks” truly applies to this. I’m not a Lynchburg native but I have lived here for 27 years. I met my wife of almost 25 years in Lynchburg and together we have raised 3 children. One of my sons shared this blog with me, otherwise I would have never known it existed. He claims he can’t wait to move away. I have asked him several times, why do you continue to stay if you hate it so much? I love him dearly but I do not understand that logic. I ask the same question to all of the critics that continue to live in this area. Of course Lynchburg has it’s faults as do all towns and cities but personally I find it to be friendly, peaceful, scenic, convenient and safe. I run a very successful business here and I find Lynchburg to be very business friendly as well. My advice to those of you that don’t like living here, PLEASE leave, as Ryan did. Doesn’t he sound happy now? However I don’t understand why he feels it necessary to post negative comments about Lynchburg. He no longer lives here. Hey Ryan, please don’t worry about us “Libertyburgers”. We’re just fine.

    • TimothyOnline

      Respectfully, Mr. Foutz, the negative comments are a part of the healing process for those of us who tried in earnest to make Lynchburg a successful home for ourselves and yet could not for the life of us, for whatever reason(s), pull it off. There are many of us.

      With regards to why we don’t leave, some of us are tied to LU or the ‘burg for various reasons. We complain because of what we have to tolerate in the process while other cities have it so much better.

  • Kam

    Ryan, I found this to be very funny and my thoughts put into words. Thank you for being honest and direct even though you knew it would come across as offensive to many Lynchburgers. Since I first moved here 9 years ago, the city has changed immensely due to the growth of Liberty. But I wouldn’t necessarily call it good growth. Not much variety or originality which is one thing I do not like. Your reasons are main reasons why I love to travel so much each year with my husband. The more cities we visit and explore, the more I realize Lynchburg is not our forever home. While it has its areas of beauty, it also offers many thumbs down. I will say it’s been a great starter city for us and we have enjoyed our first home together 😉
    Yes, people argue other cities have similar issues. But here’s the thing- Lynchburg is one of a kind. I call it special! 🙂 Some will run with that and hold it high with pride. I don’t get it but that’s ok. Defend your city if you feel that that is important. I will only ever defend one thing- my relationship with Christ. The only thing worth defending.
    Cheers!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for your balanced response, Kam! And thanks for reading!

    • TimothyOnline

      “I will only ever defend one thing- my relationship with Christ. The only thing worth defending.”

      There’s no debating that one.

  • Pete

    Hey Ryan, Glad to see that you and your family are doing well in St. Louis. Not surprising at all since you are “a Midwesterner at heart”. We met several years ago and I appreciate your insights. I do have a word of caution for you in that if you are going to write a long piece, then you can not say to someone who responds to you with an answer of “TLDR”. It is not consistent at all and I expected more from you. Also, it seems that the comments you like, you engage in while the rest, you simply dismiss with a “thanks”. Again, as a communicator, I would have thought you would have done better. I don’t have a problem with your content at all. Do I agree, not at all but like you, I have my own opinions about Lynchburg and what I value about the area. I have made this my home since 1995 and have raised my children and seen several grandchildren born here as well. I would also caution you on the notes you added this morning especially the comment about “Many of Lynchburg’s finest citizens”. Again, I expected more of you. You can not speak out of both sides of your mouth on that. Just as you stated about “Christian culture usually impedes the work of Christ rather than exemplifying it”, so can your words.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Pete – I don’t remember meeting you by first name, but I appreciate the well-wishes. In the blogosphere, and even more so on my own personal blog, I’m not obligated to read and/or respond to comments. To those that I might have something productive to say, I comment, as a rule, and to those where I don’t see a productive response, I won’t. As to my remark about Lynchburg’s finest citizens, I meant it in sincerity, and was referring to those who commented in affirmation or in criticism. The comments on here represent an accurate cross-section of the kind of folks one is likely to meet in Lynchburg. Best to you.

  • Eric Brookman

    Ryan,

    Unlike a number of others who have commented on this post, I am not offended. While I don’t agree with all of what you are saying, some it is true. The Mexican restaurant thing is definitely true. While La Carretta was started by hispanic immigrants, it is now very much a chain restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, the food there is excellent and it is my preferred Mexican restaurant. Thanks to my employer, I have had the opportunity to spend plenty of time in Mexico City, and no Mexican restaurant in the state of Virginia is authentic Mexican. The closest is La Fogata in Wyndhurst. The driving thing is very accurate. I make jokes about the number of accidents when it starts to rain or if snow begins to fall (not sticking to the road). The comment about the Civil War is a bit off. Lynchburg has a history and the Civil War is a major part of it. We have Appomattox just down the road, a number of battle took place around the area, and General Robert E. Lee is a major historical figure from around the area. The Liberty vs. Lynchburg portion needs to be modified slightly. It is more like Liberty vs. Lynchburg College. I think this is more political than anything else. I tell my friends that are looking at Lynchburg, you have Liberty (very conservative) and Lynchburg College (very liberal). You also have the other liberal colleges in the area, but I believe LC is taking lead on this. The “Take Back our City” campaign, I believe, was started with people associated with LC.

    The travel time around the ‘burg is spot on. I live in the Timberlake area now, but grew up in Boonsboro. Depending on the time of day, it takes me 20 to 30 minutes to get to my parent’s house.

    One thing that I take issue with that you didn’t mention is the housing in Lynchburg and the surrounding areas.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for taking the time to post your perspective, Eric. I appreciate each of your comments!

  • Chris

    I was born and raised here and have lived here most of my life. I have lived and visited other places enough to know I would have the majority of these issues (minus the Liberty one obviously) most anywhere, and those that weren’t the same would inevitably be replaced with something else. However, I happen to possess a great sense of humor and can make fun of myself and my town without hesitation. So while I don’t think you bring anything new to the table that everyone who lives here didn’t already know, I do think everyone acting like you murdered their puppy needs to settle down.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Haha. Thanks Chris! I’m glad you could find the humor in all this. Glad you read and commented!

  • Michael Reffner

    Five Reasons Why Lynchburg Won’t Miss You (with paralleled sardonic tone):

    1) The sine qua non of Lynchburg-lovers is not the malum discordiae of all. Suum Cuique!
    2) We’ll have one less cynic in town . . . because cynicism is certainly not in short supply today.
    3) We’ll experience a reduction in global warming – less hot air in “our” atmosphere.
    4) “Liberty-burg,” UVA-burg,” “UNC-ville,” “UC Berkeley –ville,” etc. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” It’s a college town, with college town politics. You either stay or you move out. It’s just that simple!
    5) We’ll have more money for crowd funding things that really matter, and not a family vacation to Hawaii.

    Good people live and work here. You left months ago. Why spread discontentment from over 700 miles away? What is gained from this article? I think both the article and this response are passive aggressive jabs, neither of which produce a positive outcome.

    Live in Peace and Be Well!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Hi Mike! I hope you’re doing well at the company I know you from. Since the general thrust of your response is to be insulting to me personally, rather than to respond to my critique, I won’t spend time responding to you at length. Thanks for reading anyhow!

      • Michael Reffner

        You’re right. #5 was a personal jab. That’s none of my business and I’ve edited the original post.

  • Joe Dratnol

    This was hilarious to read. I laughed very hard, very many times. There were so many annoying things about living in Lynchburg to write about, and you probably could have added more to the list. Granted, I haven’t lived there since 2006, but I also haven’t returned since I left for many reasons. I think that based upon my time in Lynchburg, I cannot argue anything you have said. I only wish you wrote your own counter argument and also did a section entitled “(very small number) of reasons why Lynchburg isn’t so bad”. However, as I was thinking this, I couldn’t really think of many. Lynchburg is an extremely beautiful place, and that was and is Lynchburg’s greatest asset! It is, and probably has been since I was there, very artsy, and there is nothing at all wrong with that. And that is about all I could think of as its good qualities.

    I very much enjoyed reading the article! I did not think it was written to offend people. I do believe that some people are just being offended because it is cool and trendy to be offended today when it comes to anything that differs from ones own opinion. Does Lynchburg have some interesting and cool things for some people? Absolutely, but it is most certainly not a city for a majority of people, such as myself.

    Enjoyed the article Ryan, thanks!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for your comments, Joe! To say that I have these reasons shouldn’t be construed to say that there aren’t plenty of reasons folks might enjoy Lynchburg. It is a beautiful area as you say! Thanks for finding the funny bone in this post and yourself! Cheers!

  • Michael Reffner

    Ryan, you knew the article would be insulting, yet you posted it anyway. My post, while it looks like you have deleted it, was just a converse perspective, laced with a degree of truth. If that was personal to you, then you can understand how your article has taken personal offense with a number of people here.

    This should not be surprising, though. I would challenge you to repost my original comment and see how others might weigh in on it. I feel like free speech was limited slightly, but it’s your site, so it’s your rules.

    Let me apologize for my offensive words. Some of them came out quickly, but not meant to be cutting; just a “paralleled sardonic tone.”
    Be well.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Mike – I have not deleted your post. It’s still there (see screenshot and/or simply scroll below) – it could be easy to miss in all of the other comments, and Disqus is sometimes funky anyhow.

      Points 1 and 4 respond to the article, but 2 and 3 are direct, personal attacks on me, and in comment 5, you introduced my family into the equation. In it, you attacked my having used gofundme to fund my recent trip to speak at the 2014 conference of the American Counseling Association in Hawaii, a trip I’d never have been able to absorb into the cost of my fledgling counseling practice here in St. Louis. My efforts there included full disclosure that I’d like to have my family attend the conference with me, and any folks donating were more than aware of that. We weren’t successful, and only my wife was able to attend – children went with grandparents for the week on our dime. I don’t feel particularly good about explaining this to you, but it’s worth saying outloud anyhow. Since you didn’t donate, I don’t know why you found it particularly offensive, but you’re entitled to your opinion. It just doesn’t have anything to do with what I wrote.

      What I knew was that some would be offended by the post, and I think that’s to be expected any time you write an opinion piece, let alone one that is critical in nature.

      All of that to say, I accept your apology.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      (Deleted/reposted verbatim to include correct screenshot). Mike – I have not deleted your post. It’s still there (see screenshot and/or simply scroll below) – it could be easy to miss in all of the other comments, and Disqus is sometimes funky anyhow.

      Points 1 and 4 respond to the article, but 2 and 3 are direct, personal attacks on me, and in comment 5, you introduced my family into the equation. In it, you attacked my having used gofundme to fund my recent trip to speak at the 2014 conference of the American Counseling Association in Hawaii, a trip I’d never have been able to absorb into the cost of my fledgling counseling practice here in St. Louis. My efforts there included full disclosure that I’d like to have my family attend the conference with me, and any folks donating were more than aware of that. We weren’t successful, and only my wife was able to attend – children went with grandparents for the week on our dime. I don’t feel particularly good about explaining this to you, but it’s worth saying outloud anyhow. Since you didn’t donate, I don’t know why you found it particularly offensive, but you’re entitled to your opinion. It just doesn’t have anything to do with what I wrote.

      What I knew was that some would be offended by the post, and I think that’s to be expected any time you write an opinion piece, let alone one that is critical in nature.

      All of that to say, I accept your apology.

  • The article served it’s purpose as in driving readers and comments. I’d say it’s a bit myopic but then again, it’s your blog. Whether it’s intentional or not, it sounds like it’s written by a jaded lover rather then any true objective views on Lynchburg, LU or surrounding areas. Let me comment point by point rather than general summary.

    1. Lynchburg is a great place to raise children. Being raised in the shadow of Philly where the murder rate in my city of 75k and reaching burbs of 300k (very close to LYH) was about the same in a month as we have in LYH in year. Crime in general, is much less and my kids are free to ride bikes and play outside with reasonable expectations of safety. While my childhood has great memories of walking to the corner store with 25 cents to by a pack of baseball cards, this city in general is not suited or built for that. Someone touched on it already, but the idea of an in city rail system is ludicrous based on finance alone, not including a metro area of 200k that are within “reasonable” distance of the actual city.
    Fair points about diversity but the world is fast getting better about that and I’m not concerned my children won’t be exposed enough.
    Based on this blog and the overall tone of your blog, I’d wonder if anything the “true charity” isn’t lingering doubt from Chubby Ryan or maybe just a projection of who you are as a person. I’ve lived here 2 years longer than you and have made countless true and genuine friends who have loved and supported me to the moon and back.
    Safe area, low congestion, easy reach of 3-4 great cities. (DC, Richmond, RDU) great public schools– the view on Greenview Drive where you can see the Blue Ridge is worth living here alone. On those occasional winter days where LYH is barren of snow, yet the peaks are covered– makes up for no art galleries and things of that nature. I’d rather live 30 minutes from the Parkway and drive then then have 3 blocks to walk for a gallon of milk and pack of gum.
    2. I’ve never met a person who said Lynchburg “HAS” a great downtown. I’ve heard it pushed as potential and that’s about it. Cool older buildings, but that’s about it. It’s too disconnected from where people live to have meaningful impact on the area. (Does lend credence we have too many franchise places that quells new ventures from prospering)
    3. OK for LYH.. didn’t really even connect with me. Maybe that’s the perception people have based on where they live and the limited number of people who would attend. Any community will have a large number who are more comfortable with Olive Garden then XYZ and businesses need to have a well defined business plan to overcome this. You simply can’t open your doors and expect something to work.
    4. I’m sure the 15 hipsters in town will clean up right away. Pretty lame point.. if you were writing about Portland, we’d have a better talking point.
    5. Every town has a Wards Road. I’m not sure what the deal is– You seem like the type of guy who pays the extra 8% and goes to Target instead of Walmart. I know I am and avoided Wards road via Wards Ferry road. Without googling it, I assume that the obscure town in Cali isn’t a college town. Biggest issue with the too many chain stores is that deters new ventures and kills their success.
    6. LYH drivers are horrible, but every town has them. The aggressive, rude drivers of the north are just dangerous on different levels. My biggest gripe would be those who STOP on merge lanes when it’s a yield. That’s a LYH special to me..
    7. It’s an interesting argument but numbers don’t lie. LYH would be much closer to Danville than Roanoke if LU wasn’t around here.
    8. Never having authentic Mexican Food, La Caretta is great. If it’s Tex Mex, doesn’t make me love it any less.
    9. Being a Philly area native, I was a bit shocked at the embedded racism that still existed in this region. It was often coded where a few key words were used before the bottom fell out and overt racist comments came out. With that, It’s getting better. We agree here on some of the context but you can both appreciate the excellence of the Confederate Army and acknowledge that like it or not, the war was about slavery, (regardless of states rights) based alone on the fact that when Lee attacked PA and Gettysburg any African American Person found in PA was simply ordered south to work as a slave. They were not viewed as equal. Many schools locally still have the Friday before MLK day off for LEE day. Not a wise move to me..but it’s heading in the right direction.
    10. It’s unique in that embedded in “Culture” there are many good people who can’t see the forest from the trees. Despite that, it’s makes these people no less good and doing good works for the right reason. So, I agree but maybe see a greater good.

    I do agree and would add if they’d loosen up on the Food to Booze ratio, we’d get better locally owned and operated niche restaurants and perhaps a better downtown region. It’s hard when 2 drinks at happy hour costs 7 bucks and the appetizer costs 4 bucks. Perhaps a drink to body weight ratio would work with in that context. 🙂

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Hi Keith – I remember you from Lynchburg (if you’re the same guy), so I hope that you’re doing well. Since you chose to insult me with your arm chair psychological analysis, I’m not going to read the rest of your remarks, which to be fair on skimming seem more even-handed. But thanks for reading anyhow!

      • Thanks, I mean– you can insult an entire community but hide behind the cowardice of “you insulted” me, hence I can ignore you. Typical. You gloat with those who agree with you and run from those who bring it right back to you. Apparently you’re rather thin skinned.

        • Ryan Thomas Neace

          Keith – again, you’ve taken a potshot at me. 3rd time will be a charm.

          • I’m sorry, you will censor me? Is that your threat? Come on– you took it upon yourself to insult an entire community, Fox News even reads the hate mail on air to make a spectacle and it works like a charm. You’re better then that. 🙂

          • Ryan Thomas Neace

            Keith – anyone who responds with critique of the post is fine. Profanity or repetitive personal insults will be blacklisted.

  • Spencer Case

    Commenting just to say that I’m a Lynchburg native and I’m not offended by this article. There are a lot of things about this town that I love, but I’m not in denial; Lynchburg is far from perfect. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and Ryan can say whatever he wants on his blog. I do find it very ironic that people have commented to say how “closed-minded” the population of Lynchburg is then vilify all of us as a whole, but I’m used to it. Fellow Lynchburgians: don’t be so defensive! Some of the points in this article are true. Either way, I hope you all realize that we don’t need to seek acceptance in some dude’s blog. And to those of you who left Lynchburg and have weird vitriol for everyone here, I hope you realize how hypocritical and truly embarrassing you are. Good riddance.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for your comment, Spencer. I appreciate your perspective.

    • TimothyOnline

      Only a city and experience that denied one “who left Lynchburg” a respectable existence would turn said person to behave in such a “hypocritical and truly embarrassing” fashion and possess said vitriol. I’m not the only one who feels this way, so it’s *not* just me.

  • Toni Bellone

    In thinking about leaving a comment, I wanted to only say something if it was worth saying. I’ve read through a lot of these comments and I think that might be something worth commenting on.

    Before commenting, I think it maybe helpful for readers to recognize that this is YOUR space. It is your place to share your thoughts and opinions and we as readers have ventured into it and it may be good to show respect for that and have recognition that we chose to read this article. It was not forced upon us. I feel you have the right to make qualifying or disqualifying assessments on any place when YOU are deciding where YOU want to live and where YOU do not and I think it’s important to acknowledge that as ultimate truth. That is true for us all. It is, after all, your life and where YOU spend it. I think that we as commenters should keep that in mind and also have a little humility about our own places of making generalizations and wanting to voice opinions that would not necessarily be labelled as “constructive” criticism. There are things in this article that resonated with me and one or two things that I differ in opinion on but I don’t believe your delivery is on the offense so I don’t believe defense is needed.

    What I can say is that it was interesting to read your thoughts on your time in Lynchburg and I think thats enough.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Toni – thanks so much for your even-keeled comment, and for taking the time to read! Wells-said.

  • Zach Moss

    wow someone is super butt hurt. good luck with that my man.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Hi Zach – business didn’t fail. But thanks for commenting and reading!

      • Zach Moss

        You’re welcome! Same to you! The passionate disgust for Lynchburg that inspired your essay, coupled with my assumption that people don’t typically abandon *successful* business ventures, may have caused me to jump to conclusions. I am sure you understand, but for that, I apologize. To be honest though, I have no problem with your opinion, and you may very well be a pleasant fella to be around. My only goal is to point out that, to all Lynchburg natives, your writing sounds like it came directly from the mouth of a whiney hipster Liberty kid who has never stepped foot off Candlers Mountain… Its funny because its ironic! (I love all of your passive agressive responses to people who are getting heated about this by the way; some of them had me rollin). Anyways, hope you’re happy where you are. Cheers.

  • Amy Sorrell

    Ryan, seriously….this post is ridiculous. I am shocked. And just so you know
    ..(maybe you don’t care….) but there are a lot of people on Lynchburg who you pretty much offended in writing this. you think you are better than us? That’s how it is coming across to alot of people.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Hi Amy – you don’t know me super well, so I can appreciate your question. No, I don’t think I’m better than anyone, and I certainly didn’t say anything like that in this post. Thanks for reading!

  • Sandy Brown

    I found this to be a rather interesting assessment of a city I lived in for 20 years. Even as I was reading, I thought you were very diplomatic and humorous in your approach, and I didn’t find it offensive at all – it’s your opinion, and you are entitled to have it. I’m also impressed with your responses back to your biggest critics.

    We moved away from Lynchburg about 6 months ago, and much of what you’ve mentioned has really been accentuated since our move. I don’t miss the drivers or the traffic at all. I will never miss the 2 foot acceleration lanes that merge you onto highway traffic (and subsequently the scene of many accidents), or the crazy people who think that merging means you have to come to a complete stop in the middle of the road. Thanks for sharing!

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Thanks for your thoughtful response, Sandy. I thought I was diplomatic as well, but alas, some did not! Glad you have found some place new that made some more of this resonate with you! Thanks for reading!

  • JJ

    Is this self-affirmation as to why you left Lynchburg really necessary, my man? Here we have some great posts about the intersection of counseling and religion, and now you’re finding yourself in defense mode against individuals who one day may very well be your patients. You don’t think this critical drivel will infiltrate St. Louis social networks? Boldfaced disclaimers aside, you’re straining relationships. Unless you’re moving into muckraking. In that case, keep up the excellent work.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      I’m not sure what’s particularly self-affirming, but ok! Thanks for reading, JJ!

      • JJ

        You’re welcome. I won’t debate our interpretations of self-affirmation. Just that anyone seeking to grow a counseling practice might use discretion when publishing these opinions. Perhaps I do not know enough about this discipline. Or business? You seem to use the terms interchangeably. Anyway, good luck. You’ve got some well-constructed arguments that I’m sure will bring you…well, whatever it is that you’re after. Spirited discussion? We’ll go with that. Certainly not solutions.

  • Brittany McGeoch

    Being born and raised here, I spent 5 years away from Lynchburg and I came back to where my HOME is. I want to second what Melissa Cash is saying about inspiring others to see the beauty in what is around them in the present place and time. EVERY city, town, county, district, etc.. has it’s strengths and shortcomings. As you are an LPC, I would hope that you would use a strengths based perspective and apply it to your views of our wonderful and HAPPY little city. Yes, Lynchburg has issues. What city doesn’t? But see the beauty in it first! My theory is, if you see something you don’t like in the world, do something to improve it. So while you were here, my hope is that you did something to improve our community and give back to it, as it did provide you with many things (I’m sure) while you were here.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      Brittany, you’re certainly right, all cities have issues. I did what I could to improve life while there serving on civic boards, owning a business, and prior to that being a part of the workforce, and working on campaigns for city council members. Lynchburg absolutely provided me something, a notion I affirmed twice above. Thanks for reading!

  • Rebekah

    AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!! You hit the nail right on the head, and I have been looking forward to leaving Lynchburg for many of the same reasons (8 of 10)! I am trying to “bloom” here, but I am struggling. I, like you, am not a native Lynchburger, and I have not felt at home here since I moved here to attend grad school at Lynchburg College 6 years ago. I was going to leave last year, but my employer asked me to give it one more year. I decided that I would do that and see if I could make this place my home. I am still having a hard time. Not sure when I will leave this place, but that I am sure will happen soon enough. Thank you for writing this. It confirms that I am not crazy in my own analysis of this area. It also makes me know that I was not alone in my feelings, as I had been feeling for years.

  • Paitin Crawford

    I love my town, I’m an hour away from Roanoke and three and a half from Richmond if I need my “big city fix” and only four and a half from Virginia Beach. If you don’t want to live here, no one is going to make you stay. Trust me, we won’t miss you. Also, I’ll eat your portion of La Caretta for you. 🙂

  • Becca Eubank

    Well, I’d say the timing in this article is ironic. Just making its way around Facebook…honestly the last thing I wanted to see pop up on my page. Hmm… oh well. Now that the words have shown up uninvited into my personal space, and I’ve read them, I felt the need to say to you, Ryan, that the lack of true charity is not limited to Lynchburg. People hide their real selves and their motives everywhere. People are hypocrites everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you live. I think as we grow up and mature, we recognize the realities of people, both the sincerity and the falsehood of others and of ourselves, and that can be disillusioning and disheartening for sure. But it certainly has nothing to do with location. I would bet money that if you go anywhere in the world and stay long enough, you’ll encounter the good and bad, the clear and the murky/fuzzy/hazy/whatever you want to call it in the human population. It’s just a fact of life. Other than that point, I’d say many of your assessments are fairly accurate, and I hope you feel better now that you have publicly vented your frustration.

  • Ascencion Gomez

    Sounds like a typical rural southern city…

  • Daniel Adams

    Haha!! What a great piece. How could anyone read this and not agree that it was brilliantly written as well as hilarious? In my humble (New England) opinion, some of these comments highlight one of the greatest disparities a midst the culture surrounding the Hill City. Even if something is truly great, so many people living in Lynchburg cannot and will not applaud something/someone they don’t agree with. Who cares if Ryan is a better writer than you, with fantastic taste for satire and a ridiculously good looking family. It’s a great article. There has to be some kind of formula to overly religious places not being able to accept something good because it doesn’t fit within their 14 generations of predisposed thinking. I remember reading about a guy who was murdered one time because the religious people didn’t like what he had to say. Deuces to the Sanhedrin. Bravo to you Mr. Ryan Neace, I enjoyed that. I may read another one of these lazy Lynchburg days.

  • Bob

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeCDoWQCZR4&feature=youtu.be

    Umm…I think you missed out while here

  • Brandon

    Good riddance I say. This is a humorous article filled with several stereotypes that are humorous at best but I will admit I was not thrilled about level of negativity that it implied. Especially the bad drivers part, whoa, I got a laugh there. As a truck driver I can say that it is a relief to drive in Lynchburg compared to other city’s in VA like basically all of northern VA citys and Richmond for example. All except wards road with all the stoplights. Speaking of liberty university and the Christian culture, your gonna have some snobs who want everyone else’s views on life to be the exact same as theirs. That is something that you will experience anywhere. It is just a characteristic of snobbish people, and in this case of those who believe their personal views are supported by a higher being. However you look at something though you can find good or bad. Perhaps you have something against the quantity of Christian culture particularly found in that side of town, but I would be willing to bet that area has a low crime rate. Just saying.

  • Tasha

    We have been debating about moving to Lynchburg. Thank You for making it so easy for us to make up our minds! We will be moving within a year. Tell ya the truth Everywhere you go, you will have different pros and cons about what makes a city great. Conforming to the ways of others or the city life, is a reflection of yourself. Everybody is unique every city is unique. It is GREAT to hear and see about hypercritical Christians in the area. However Christian or non Christian everyone is a hypercrit regaurdless of their relationship with the Lord. There wouldnt be need for growth in a city or community without hypercrits like you an I. God uses Everyone for an example of something, even if its bad, but its used for good.

  • Jeffrey Scott

    I found this article to be spot on man. The only real reason I remain in Lynchburg is to look after my mother. After that I am choosing to relocate to a better and more Maintained place of living.

  • Lyndsay Durrett

    I was born in Roanoke and moved to Lynchburg when I was three. I am now 21 years old, and I’ve been here ever since. I’m not saying that Lynchburg is the best place in the world, but to me it’s home and it always will be.

  • Loralee Walters

    Dude Lynchburg isn’t that bad. I live downtown and never have to drive unless I’m leaving Lynchburg. I’m from Tampa and I think It is jive here. What a peice.

  • Former Christian

    It is the biggest small town I ever lived in!

  • Kevin Schlemmer

    I agree with all of this list, but would add in a #11 racism, #12 – homophobia, and #13 – indifference to young secular people.

    Many in Lynchburg still use racial slurs as freely as they are talking about the weather or “traffic” on Timberlake or Wards Roads.

    Homophobia is shockingly (or not) ever-present. No LGBT anything in sight (many probably think that is a new lunch sandwich at Applebee’s), save a drive to Charlottesville, Roanoke, or DC. The best you can expect is to be quietly talked about being your back. The worst is to have bibles shoved in faces of our LGBT brothers and sisters or being told that people are “praying” for them and if they ever need to “talk,” to let those good Christian racist/homophobes to let them know.

    #13 – indifference to young (secular) people. One of the biggest frustrations is hearing “why do our young people leave (for Charlottesville, Roanoke, DC, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Nashville, etc.). Well, secular (and others) folks would like to have a drink at a bar and dance with their boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/friend. One of the cool nightclubs in Lynchburg, The Cleaners, was constantly under assault from ABC for violations. Those are serious, but it always felt that club was under attack to be “closed down.” How cool was that? To repurpose an old dry cleaning place, complete with high ceilings and an interesting vibe? But, no, Lynchburg constantly proves that can’t have much that what most of the country would consider cool, alas, young people constantly flee to the cities mentioned above and others. Very sad.

  • Columbusboy

    Very interesting article and related comments! I’m from Columbus, Georgia, a city very similar in size to Lynchburg, and also a former textile center (The Lowell of the South). Years ago, the complaints were almost identical as those expressed here, except for the “hilly” part. FORTUNATELY, about 15 years ago, folks woke up and spent big bucks to recreate its downtown! The results have been nothing short of spectacular! Thus, there may be hope for Lynchburg, VA! Good luck! http://www.visitcolumbusga.com http://www.36hoursincolumbus.com

  • Lucy Connor

    I am moving to Maryland to http://www.drhorton.com/Maryland/Maryland/Glenarden/Woodmore-Towne-Centre.aspx

    and i am so excited, i am hoping to really put down roots and have a family here. its seems great.

  • Beth Adams

    As we approach 2017 in Lynchburg, it is even worse. The main problem with this town is its apathy toward economic growth. It is an industial college town – an economic suicide. The town generates a large population of college grads who work in industial positions earning little more than minimum wage. If you’re lucky and don’t spend too much time in “all that book learnin’ ” you can work in a call center. We now have a rate of 25% below the poverty line – the highest poverty rate in the state. I absolutely cannot believe what has happened to my hometown. I’m finally leaving….have to. After 191 credit hours, I have to make it count for something.

  • Remember this guy on 5th street? The signs have gotten worse.

  • Jonny Mapes

    Another lib mad and stomping out of a southern city because he couldn’t turn it into some kind of faux-european/ Seattle Pike’s Place/ Portland’s Pearl District, like the crap going on in Roanoke and C-ville. Bye bye. What’s the point of investing in downtown if its just going to be taken over by some outside degenerate group in 20 years? Oh right, because diversity is our strength. How’s that working out Detroit, Philly, B-more, Chicago, etc? There is a reason why sprawl exists, and it ain’t because there isn’t enough walkablility or cafes.

    • Ryan Thomas Neace

      You’ve introduced so many new concepts, I don’t know how to dialogue with you intelligently: a) that this is informed by alleged “lib”-ness, b) the gross underestimation of the problematic portions of cities like Detroit and Chicago as being related to people’s failed investment of them (that’s a new one for me), c) did you just defend suburban sprawl?, etc. Not mad, didn’t stomp. Just left. Happy to be gone. I do not like Lynchburg, VA, period, point blank.