Thursday, April 18, 2024

Upfront: Mural support

I travel a lot across the state. Obviously nature calls on some of these trips, and I usually make a stop at one of our state’s outstanding rest areas if I can, rather than a convenience store. (They can sometimes be a little off-putting depending on which one you choose). 

North Carolina’s rest stops are clean, neat and seem to be pretty safe on the occasions I’ve visited. They should be, of course. In many cases, these are some of the only places that many folks will see as they travel through on their way to someplace else. We should build upon these locations in a few innovative ways to promote the state and our culture. 

Let’s customize these places to represent the state even more. As I said, they are nice, clean and safe, but they are pretty bland because all of them look the same. How about if we add a little color and personality to each one and hire a mural artist to work on a wall or two at our rest areas? This would add some pep, as you’ll read in Ebony Morman’s story, starting on page 64, on how murals are popping up across the state, both in cities and small towns. They add a real creative element to each place, such as the downtown Raleigh mural pictured above. Wouldn’t something similar be cool at each rest area? It could even represent some neat aspect of the state or region where the rest area is located. 

While we’re at it, how about if we pump in some music highlighting North Carolina musicians? Think about if the Avett Brothers, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Doc Watson or Eric Church were featured on a continuous loop over loudspeakers in the entrances, restrooms and picnic areas across the state? What a great representation of music across so many genres. 

We’ve got a good thing going in terms of a nice place for visitors to stop and rest, use the facilities or walk the dog. We should build up that foundation and add a little spice to the mix. Think of it as a little Texas Pete on your barbecue sandwich.

Ben Kinney
Ben Kinney
Ben Kinney is publisher of Business North Carolina magazine. You can reach him at

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