Writing My Way Around Town: Here's What I've Learned in a Year

Tomorrow marks the one-year mark for Rochester Patch. Here are some of my favorite Around Town findings and observations so far.

On Oct. 22, 2010, Rochester Patch launched.

Along with the local news and an from our editor, Kristin Bull, there it was —

For that first column I wrote about margaritas at and the .

Now, here we are: 177 columns later and another year older.

I've learned a lot about Rochester and Rochester Hills during this year. Here it is in a link-filled nutshell:

Contests as a means of communication

My first Around Town contest came to me one morning on my exercise bike. I was pedaling away and reading a story about southeast Michigan's "Best" restaurants. To my great surprise, there wasn't a single Rochester location on the list. 

I knew that wasn't right so I asked Patch readers and just like that the column became a conversation. 

Throughout the past year I used the Around Town column to find out all of your hometown favorites:

In contest answers, you also shared with me your favorite and ideas on .

I'll say this: You're a creative bunch!

A column becomes part of the community

One mild November day I was walking down Main Street and I noticed the . I stopped inside to see why and just like that my column became part of the community.

The “Gus” was being dropped for practical reason, but I had the rather impractical idea of throwing an Irish wake for a nonexistent person.

Chef (also known as Michael Keyes, O’Connor’s executive chef and general manager) liked the idea and that following January . It wasn’t quite St. Patrick’s Day () but it was a lot of fun on a random winter night.

What you learned about me

Of course along the way you learned about me, too.

You learned that I have a and a . 

You learned how I entertain my kids with , ,  and how a . 

You watched me — well, my husband really — transform into a .

You may have guessed my love for all things Harry Potter with the column on his and another on how to throw a .

And you got an intimate look at my love for books with my Around Town  and the about the Stonewall Pumpkin Festival.

Daring deeds

Part of being your Around Town columnist involved me rolling up my sleeves and getting in there. Sometimes, like in the cases of and , it was in front of a video camera. (What can I say? My editor is very persuasive!)

I also , combed the town for the and submitted myself to the services of the .

Finally, I as I searched for the perfect dress for the . (Thanks for your help with that one!)

My favorite part

As fun as that all has been, really my favorite part of being your Around Town columnist is meeting all the dynamic people that make Rochester and Rochester Hills great.

I've met business owners celebrating ,  and of business in Rochester.

I learned about businesses looking to make a fresh start, like and .

And I've introduced you to new businesses coming to our town. Even with the tough economy there have been a lot of them:

I've also been fortunate enough to meet people trying to make Rochester and the world a better place:

  • There's Duane Utech from and his , bringing yoga and meals to those in need. 
  • There's , bringing comfort to sick children one book at a time. 
  • And there's the Friends of the hard at work in theto make sure our library is the best around.

Finally, there's this one: if I could only go back in time and tell my 15-year-old self that someday I would ! Ah well, she probably wouldn't believe this old lady, anyway.

Life's full of lessons

Here are the Top 10 things I've learned from my first year as Around Town columnist for Rochester Patch:

10. There are 74 movements in a third-degree black belt pattern.

9. With the right outfit, anyone can wear those 

8. Every business partnership needs a creative person and a business person. (Seriously, I heard this separately from the owners of , and.)

7. got its name because . The Lexington cupcake at

6. Fit is everything, according toand

5. , allow two to three weeks of hair growth there.

4. unless you wait until after June 1. Then it costs $30. You also need a special permit to walk your dog in the downtown municipal park. That costs $10 for Rochester residents and $40 for Rochester Hills.

3. Some say, "When a door is closed, a window is opened." In Rochester it goes, "When Tom's Oyster Bar is closed, ."

2. Fresh is everything — according to , and .

1. Rochester Patch readers love their restaurant news, especially if is in the headline.

What will we discover in the new year? How does it feel to dance above Main Street? Where's the best place to karaoke? Will Bar Louie live up to its hype? 

I can't wait to find these answers and more with you!

David Gifford October 21, 2011 at 01:38 PM
Great re-cap! I have enjoyed your articles this past year! Looking forward to more!
Laura Cassar October 21, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Thanks, David! It's been fun, that's for sure!
Brendan McGaughey October 21, 2011 at 02:37 PM
The Irish wake was your idea? I could have guessed that, it was also my first video for Patch! Solid year summary ATL, keep up the good work.
Rockin' Cupcakes October 21, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Happy one-year, Laura! Keep up the great work.
Amanda Kirksey October 21, 2011 at 04:05 PM
I love your columns! Thanks for entertaining me! :)
Sandy Altherr October 21, 2011 at 04:54 PM
I always look forward to your columns, I really enjoy your view of things and your humor~ thanks for making me smile while learning about our town !
TY October 21, 2011 at 05:07 PM
Thank you its always fun to check your links and thoughts through facebook
Kelly Gilling October 21, 2011 at 05:27 PM
Happy 1st Anniversary!!! What a whirlwind, and what a fun recap! You make me want to move to Rochester.
Laura Cassar October 21, 2011 at 09:20 PM
Thank you, Amanda, for the kind words and for entertaining me with your outstanding blog!!
Laura Cassar October 21, 2011 at 09:21 PM
Thanks, Jim and Mary! You were one of my first interviews and so very kind! Keep those cupcakes rockin'!
Laura Cassar October 21, 2011 at 09:27 PM
Sandy, Ty and Kelly, Thanks so much for the kind words! Way to make my day!! I love what I do and I'm so glad you enjoy it too!
Laura Cassar October 21, 2011 at 09:27 PM
Ah, yes, your first video for Patch! Thanks, Brendan!
Mary Lou Gloudemans October 22, 2011 at 04:04 AM
What a great recap of your first year on the job, Laura. I must tell you how proud I am of you and your work. You make me want to visit so many places in my limited time in RH. I agree with Kelly...you make me want to move to Rochester. Love you. Mom
Laura Cassar October 22, 2011 at 11:38 AM
Thank you, my sweet mamacita! I learned my love of reading, writing and story-telling at *your* knee!


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