GREENSBORO ARTIST MARIAM AZIZA STEPHAN SHARES HER FAVORITE SPOTS
My parents came to the USA (from Afghanistan and Germany respectively) for work and stayed because they could be strangers together, in this country where they built something uniquely their own. In many ways, I feel I am continuing their journey. As a painter and an art professor, I came to North Carolina for work and found a place that was redefining itself as I was.
Greensboro houses an eclectic mix of modest to impressive attractions, including the Treasure Tree in Hamilton Lakes Park, the Homeland Creamery farm tour, and the Woolworth Civil Rights Museum where the Greensboro Four staged their 1960 sit-ins. These novel sites are cohabitants to the many artists and crafts people that define Greensboro’s energy. From the UNCG-affiliated gallery and community art space (Greensboro Project Space), to the Weatherspoon Art Museum, to STARworks (a national ceramics and glass hub) the city is alive with creativity. Yet Despite the city’s diverse population of nearly 300,000, Greensboro has an intimacy to it that I love – a small town feel with a cosmopolitan cast of characters.
Populated with Sudanese, Palestinian, Pakistani, Iraqi, and Indian immigrants (amongst many others), I’m as likely to hear Spanish and Arabic as I am to hear English when walking the streets.
Greensboro has a plethora of greenspace, the nearly twenty parks in the city provide quiet and dense natural respites all year round. Dogwood, Magnolia, Red Maple, and Sweet Gum trees shade Rhododendrons, Camelias, and Azaleas amid lakes and streams, while masses of Kudzu swallow and reshape foliage. Two of my favorite outdoor spots are Lake Brandt, an 816-acre municipal reservoir, and the Battleground Parks District, which is over 400 acres and contains more than 13 miles of trails.
My favorite eatery is Nazareth Bread Co. and Restaurant – a Middle Eastern bakery, restaurant, and community (and my second kitchen). Here they make fresh pita bread on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays that gets distributed throughout the city’s Halal markets and mosques. Their annual Ramadan buffet is spectacular and not to be missed, regardless of your faith. [4507 W Market St, Greensboro, NC 27407]
My second favorite eatery is Shish-house. This Yemini restaurant includes standard Middle Eastern or Mediterranean fare (all Halal), but the Yemini entrees Lamb Haneeth and Mendi Chicken are exceptional. Even if you just go for a light lunch, the lentil soup, fattoush, baba ghanouj, and warm tannoura bread will not disappoint. [4929 W Market St, Greensboro, NC]
Another delectable destination is the Greensboro Farmers Market. Open every Saturday year-round, the market supports vendors from over 15 counties in the region. You can find produce, fruit, eggs, dairy, meats and seafood, honey, flowers, plants (and moss), and prepared artisanal foods. Every week my neighbor buys fresh flowers for her mother and fresh produce for her restaurant. The market is a great way to start the weekend; with a coffee and a pastry, wandering the stalls and buying local. [501 Yanceyville St, Greensboro, NC]
Lastly, my husband and I enjoy riding our motorcycles down to the STARworks Cafe and Taproom to spend the day. STARworks is an arts center that hosts visiting artists, workshops and events focusing on ceramics and glass. It is a community of professional makers that love sharing their work and teaching others what they do. Some of STARworks’ annual planned events include Glassfest, Firefest and Hot Glass Cold Beer, but one can drop by anytime and check out their huge glass and ceramic gift shop, get food and drinks at the cafe, and ask for a tour. We like to go and poke around, watch people make stuff, hang out, and generally bother everyone down there. It is right next to the town of Seagrove, known as the pottery capital of the United States. [100 Russell Drive, Star, NC 27356 @starworksnc]