Here's how I found Batavia:
My first week on the job with my previous employer was September 2006. I was living in a hotel in Fairport. Billie was in Bakersfield getting our household ready for packing and shipping 3,000 miles north east. As a Californian, I grew roses. One of my biggest worries when we decided to move to the Rochester area was whether I could grow roses in a much colder climate.
Somehow, I found out about a master gardener event and plant sale at the Cornell Extension in Batavia. I had no idea, really, how far Batavia was from Fairport, but I thought I would drive out so I could talk with a few gardeners in the region, and maybe find a rosarian or two.
I faithfully followed the GPS-provided route down the Thruway onto Oak Street and left onto Main.
As soon as I hit downtown, I was charmed by the city. It would be hard to explain why. I'd lived most of my life in metropolitian areas, but was always most attracted to their smaller communities. I once published a weekly newspaper in San Diego's Ocean Beach, and loved the small town vibe of those few dozen city blocks. I like towns with a sense of place
To me, Batavia seemed like a town with a real community behind it. Batavia wasn't overrun by chains (I didn't make it out to the Veteran's Memorial Drive that day). There were plenty of small businesses downtown and the old buildings, especially the churches and Masonic Temple, told me there was some history to Batavia.
Of course, I didn't know all about the Mall (to the degree I noticed it, I remember thinking, 'that's unfortunate'), I hadn't read Bill Kauffman's Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette, I didn't know about the Holland Land Office, or John Gardner, or the Muckdogs or Mancuso's business incubator. I just liked the town.
I headed back to Fairport after my visit at the extension -- where I learned it would be a bit more work to grow roses in WNY, though not impossible -- but I didn't forget Batavia.
On the long drive back, I thought, too bad it's so far from our office. I would like to live there.
When we started discussions at my company about 18 months later about incubating an online-only community news site, the first place that came to mind was Batavia. It was about the right size of town, had a strong local business base and was close enough that I could be directly involved in the Web site.
So, I put the plan together and got approval to launch The Batavian.
The more time I spent here, the more I learned about the community, the more I got to know people, the more I wanted to live here.
I kept trying to think through scenarios where my job could evolve into something that would allow me to live in Batavia and run The Batavian full time, but none of the options seemed particularly realistic.
Then, one day, in late February, quite unexpectedly, it all fell in my lap. The Batavian was mine, if I wanted it. Billie and I talked it over, and we decided to take the leap.
So, here we are. We have our furniture and our clothes as well as our dog and three cats in a small townhouse on Maple Street.
It's a quite morning. We can hear the birds and quiet ruffle of the wind through the trees. And Billie and I are both struck by what we can't hear: the persistent hum of freeway traffic. It's been at least 20 years since either of us lived out of ear shot of a major highway.
We think we will like it here.