Recently, at one of our local favorite spots, I met a couple of lovely visitors to town. They were from Omaha, Nebraska and decided to drive down for a "first-time" visit to Eureka Springs to get away for a bit of rest, relaxation and romance with each other ... and, also away from the hyper-quarantined kiddos.
Truly enamored by our town, they asked a lot of questions.
My partner, Jeff and I are all too happy to oblige when this kind of discussion ensues. as we are proud ambassadors of Eureka Springs. During this wonderful interaction with them, and after a lot of gushing about how amazing it is to live here, a question came up that intrigued me, and fully stopped me in my tracks - What does Eureka offer that you can't get anywhere else?
My mind raced.
I thought about the question, sat in silence (nearly something impossible for me), and surprisingly struggled to come up with an answer. At the time, everything that came to mind (great food, wonderful people, amazing weather & nature, arts and entertainment, rich history, etc.) all hit me at once, and yet, you can obtain and experience all of those things elsewhere, too ...
Hmmm ... ... ... these visitors stumped me, then, after much thought, it was days later when the light bulb illuminated bright above my head.
We're our own little cultural paradigm within a series of cultural paradigms.
Here's what I mean . . .
Cultural paradigms are among the most important determinants of behavior and motivation. What makes us so unique in Eureka Springs is that not only are we a place oozing with culture, more specifically we have cultures within cultures in harmony here.
Take this very simple example: we have defined cultural insights for the cultural paradigm of “local.” This has helped shape an understanding of the beliefs of target consumers: that products produced locally are more responsibly made, and better suited to the needs of local customers; that they respect knowledge of how things should be made; and that they offer more proximity, more accountability, and more humanity.
"No place is a place until things that have happened in it are remembered in history, ballads, yarns, legends, or monuments." –Wallace Stegner, "The Sense of Place," 1983
Many things have happened here, and continue to happen. We are our own little hamlet of co-creation whereby no one person is insignificant. Eureka Springs is everything that we create and share as part of our lives in this place where we live and work.
Local culture recognizes the expertise that people have in living their daily lives. People bring a wealth of knowledge to their activities – where to buy the freshest meats, how to machine a part within a thousandth of an inch, when to move the infield closer to the plate for a bunt, what types of patterns go well with each other, how to reach consensus on a cooperative’s committee.
Local culture recognizes that people’s daily knowledge comes from shared life experiences and information transmitted to them by family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.
This can even be simplified in this example: when the weather is hot, the cultural response varies from one group to another. Some cultures consume iced beverages in the belief that, the colder the drink, the more the body will cool down. In other cultures, the response is hot beverages like tea, to elevate the body temperature and diminish the perception of external heat.
In April 2019, I wrote a blog-post here entitled, Is Our Very Own Eureka Springs and Earth Vortex?"
Modern-day mystics say Eureka Springs is an Earth "Vortex," a rare and powerful planetary center where body, mind and spirit are aligned. Even the most practical folks often say they were drawn to Eureka Springs by an unspoken, inner knowledge. Some come for a visit, some stay for a lifetime; all say that they knew Eureka Springs was where they ought to be.
Victorian citizens decked in their finery boarded rail cars destined for Eureka Springs. Local trolleys headed for the early bath houses and soon the town became a magnet for the spa treatments that continue to be a big part of the culture in Eureka even to this day.
Many miraculous cures were reported in newspaper testimonials of the era. Eureka's Spring waters were credited with amazing feats -- from curing dreaded disease, to magnetizing all metal that passed through the stream of "Magnetic Spring."
Eureka's spring waters were never tested by modern methods, but many historians agree on their legitimate healing power. Perhaps it was the water. Perhaps it was the welcoming climate and the fresh mountain air. Perhaps the hopeful beliefs of the afflicted inspired cures by faith alone.
Our newest brewery, Gotahold, is aptly named. When Brewmaster Dave Hartmann and his wife Wendy arrived to town, people would ask what brought them to town. They’d share that they are opening a brewery. They’d then ask them the same question in return. The day Dave was in Vermont closing on their former house was the third time Wendy had heard the same response, “This place just got a hold of us.” Part of it is the place. Most of it is the people. There is something truly magical about Eureka Springs. There was an ah-ha on this third time of hearing it...and, alas, we have Gotahold Brewery at 409 W Van Buren, Eureka Springs, AR 72632.
We have no rational explanation for the mysterious powers in these Ozark hills. In speaking from my personal experience, when you visit here, you continue to be drawn back here until eventually you are here.
The power that drew our ancient ancestors lives on and Eureka Springs has long been a place of awe and wonder, a joyful place where legends are born.
There are reasons one might consider that a vortex exists in Eureka Springs. First, it is located in the mystical Ozark Mountains. In addition, there was a very famous healing spring, as well as radioactive springs and a even a spring that people claimed magnetized any metal object. The energy is powerful here and it is the glue that binds all elements together: inclusion, creativity, community, history, commerce, connectivity, energy, collaboration, philanthropy and nature for it is all of these elements, within the different cultural paradigms that are here, all resonating in radical harmony with one another.
THAT is Eureka's largest offering to locals and visitors alike - and it truly is something that you can't get anywhere else in the world.