Author Melody Warnick will make her first trip to Danville on Thursday, thanks to the Danville Regional Foundation.

Warnick will teach a workshop and lead a luncheon about placemaking and place attachment at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research on Thursday.

The workshop is already full, but there are a few spaces left for the free luncheon at noon.

Warnick was inspired to write her book, “This is Where You Belong” after moving to Blacksburg and deciding to settle in — something she and her husband hadn’t done since college.

“I was a chronic mover. I grew up in southern California and never moved until college, and then it started unspooling,” Warnick told the Register & Bee. “My husband and I would move every two-three years, criss-crossing the country.”

Five years ago, her husband took a job as an English professor at Virginia Tech, and their family packed their bags once more, moving from Austin, Texas, to Blacksburg. She started her “Love Where You Live” experiments several months after moving to Blacksburg, because she just wasn’t happy there.

The “Love Where You Live” experiments were “small efforts to make me feel more engaged in my town and more attached to it to help build the bond between me and Blacksburg,” she said.

Some of those efforts include becoming a regular at a local restaurant and getting to know the staff and shopping local, even when that means spending a little bit more when you can.

“Research has shown that when you spend money at local businesses opposed to box stores, 30 percent more of that money stays in your community,” Warnick said, though she understands isn’t possible for some people.

For those unable to spend the money in their community, Warnick recommended getting to know neighbors, attending free local events, civic engagement and walking throughout the community.

“You may not always be able to spend a lot of money and go to local restaurants, but you can show up to events and things that are free, and access the resources that are available in your community,” Warnick said. Showing up to free local events can help connect someone to their community by giving them a venue to make connections, but also helps the town by making it seem more vibrant.

Warnick hopes that her workshop and luncheon this week in Danville will help to “wake up feelings [of attachment] that people already have.”

“What I find is that most people already feel that way, especially in a place like Danville where people have lived here forever,” Warnick said. “People already feel a sense of loyalty and love for their town, and I help them recognize that and turn it into action to make this a place where anyone would want to live.”

It took her two to three years to feel truly at home in Blacksburg, and now that they’ve been there for five years, Warnick said “I completely consider it home. We want to be here for the long haul. We want to put deep roots down here in Blacksburg. I think putting a concerted effort into place attachment made all the difference.”

“DRF makes investments that support our local governments and organizations as they revitalize and reimagine our entire region. And sometimes these are large projects that take time to complete. But we know that these investments alone will not fully change our community,” DRF Director of Marketing and Communications Lori Merricks said in an email. “Positive change that grows and excites others often starts by something someone does in their neighborhood or their own backyard.”

Simkiss reports for the Danville Register & Bee.

Ceillie ​Simkiss reports for the Danville Register & Bee. Contact her at csimkiss@registerbee.com or (434) 791-7981.

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