Reflection Blog: Noelani Blueford

9th & 9th: Shop, Dine, and Live Local

By Noelani Blueford

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As a Utah native, my chief journalistic interest is in featuring the community. I want to know about the people, the places, and the things that make Salt Lake City both function and prosper.

Among others, I have written and recorded features on vintage stores in the city, vegetable gardening in the desert, the local board gaming culture–and the thriving neighborhood of 9th & 9th.

After 4 years of high school at Rowland Hall (and a year up the street at McGillis K-8 before that), I considered myself pretty knowledgeable about the 9th & 9th neighborhood that sits on the western edge of campus. I’d had a fulfilling career as a frequent customer at Dolcetti Gelato. I saved up money to buy my boyfriend’s mother presents from The Children’s Hour. Pumpkin chocolate-chip bread from Great Harvest was my main source of sustenance during exams. In this way, I considered myself a great candidate to write up a news story celebrating ten years of the repaved streets and art installations that were put in just before my freshman year.

Sitting down with Diane Etherington, owner of The Children’s Hour, I realized just how wrong I was. Having been in the neighborhood for 30 years, Diane is an incredibly important member of what was once a very small but flourishing neighborhood community. She spent years personally cleaning up the debris left on the sidewalks by students and grocery store clientele, and even now refreshes the city trash bins on her corner weekly. She’s seen dozens of businesses come, go, and switch storefronts, all the while providing excellent service to locally-minded customers for decades. She was directly involved with the rejuvenation of the cross-street ten years ago, helping to pick the sculptures that adorn the sidewalks.

The 4 years I spent traipsing through the area between classes (and yes, probably being a litterbug) were peanuts comparatively.

For me, that’s the magic of feature writing. Knowledge about the world cannot only be gleaned from our own personal experience and the front page news. Personal experiences must be shared between people to broaden our understanding of life, and feature stories are a pretty good way to do that.