by Adrian Brown, A champion for Durham. Self-proclaimed Bull City Townee. Enterprising. Artistic. Business connecter. Passionate volunteer.

What does homemade yogurt have to do with Durham, let alone my job?  Nothing I suppose, other than the raised brows I evoke as I doctor up my mid-morning snack with varied ingredients before consuming it.  This morning however, my colleague passed me while engaged in what probably looked to her like an episode of In the Kitchen with Sesame Street, when she suggested my homemade yogurt was SO Durham.  After thinking about it, I realized she was right!  Yogurt is essentially the bacterial fermentation of milk, and there’s a lot of very interesting things happening in Durham – a conversion of what was before, if you will.

So maybe she was right!  Of course, around the chamber, there are far too many reasons to display your Durham pride, especially with the spate of Durham conversions.

By now, everyone’s heard about Durham’s own, Lowell Oakley, Jr. the jazz crooner who continues to advance on NBC’s The Voice, on team Pharrell Williams.  Lowell’s dad, a partner with Koonce, Wooten & Haywood, a local CPA firm, has been a fixture around the Chamber for years.  Needless to say, we’re beaming for both Lowell Oakley’s and couldn’t be any prouder, and will continue to watch his progress.

You can’t reference a Durham conversion without acknowledging the monumental task of renovating the 17-story former SunTrust Bank building into a 134 room boutique hotel.  Well, that’s exactly what the 21c Museum Hotel has done.  Thanks in part to what I do, I was invited to assemble ten people to come “test out” the bar and kitchen, before the hotel restaurant, Counting House official opened, a few weeks ago.  Let me say, it took no time at all to get ten confirmed for this noble act of volunteerism.  We enjoyed a variety of drinks expertly crafted by capable bartenders, who despite the frenzy appeared cool, and cheerful.  I blame the mesmerizing artwork, which is not only a feast for the eyes, but a tonic for the soul.

Thanks to some of the A-listers in our party, the hotel staff honored my request for a peek (my second) at the luxury suite which occupies the entire 16th floor (17th is all mechanical), and has a balcony that runs along the entire southern side of the building overlooking downtown.  It is nothing short of spectacular!  And, once you recover from the view, you can’t help but marvel at all of the original terrazzo flooring throughout the hotel, including the luxury suite, which is complete with a full-size bathroom, bedroom and living area.  And before you wonder what the fuchsia glow is when you look up at the hotel from the street, know that’s just the most civilized solution for the hotel bathroom night lights.

And if you’re still wondering why this creative hotel decided Durham was the right place for its fourth outpost, you don’t have to look very far to see the amazing artistry that is taking place right here in Durham.  In fact, I just received an invite to Elijah Leed’s 2015 furniture collection preview.  As a former purveyor of fine furnishings, I have such an appreciation for pieces of furniture that are not only functional but beautiful.  I’ve watched Elijah evolve from being strictly a glass blower who discovered that he can convert beautiful pieces of wood, into practical works of art that can fit into just about any home décor scheme, and be something the owner will love for decades.  Judging by the trip he and I took with others to High Point Furniture Market last spring, to gauge the market, it’s clear he’s making statement pieces which are still relatively affordable.  With that, I’ll say it right here, if you’re smart you’ll buy a piece now, because I venture it won’t be long until you wish you had.

Durham is awash in conversions of all sorts, as is the writer of this post.  How are you evolving from what has been, to something new, and hopefully better?