041: How to Love Where You Live With Melody Warnick

Melody Warnick, freelance journalist and author of This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live, wrote the book on falling in love with where you live.

Moving is something that Melody has ample firsthand experience with. She’s moved from Ames, Iowa to St. George, UT to Silver Spring, MD to Austin, TX to her current (and hopefully more permanent) home, Blacksburg, VA.

As she planned her last trek, with her husband and two children, she began thinking that she might be addicted to moving. A curious journalist, she began researching, and discovered that 12% of Americans move each year and the average American can expect to move 11.7 times throughout their life. All of this shifting has resulted in 28% of us not knowing our neighbors by name.

Melanie’s research led to her the concept of “placemaking,” the practice of making your community more livable. In our discussion, Melanie shares some of the placemaking projects she’s pursued since moving to Blacksburg. Some of these involved her children, some she’s done herself, and some with others in the community. The result is that she became comfortable in her new environment much more quickly than she ever has in the past, she knows her neighbors and many others in the community, she’s learned a great deal about her town, and at least one of her projects has been adopted by others…a sure sign of success! And, when her husband recognized that his job with Virginia Tech was not a long-term fit, rather than deciding to move, he sought out, and found, a more desirable job close by. Melody’s family is now looking for a house to purchase in the Virginia Tech area!

Listen to our discussion to learn about:

  • The process of moving and how to put down roots more quickly
  • Mindfulness and appreciating the things around you
  • Writing her first book, This is Where You Belong
  • Place attachment, bonding with the place that you live
  • How to be happy where you are
  • Having control of where you live
  • Calling it quits in a town before you really try to make it a home – a very bad habit!
  • Bringing your baggage with you when you move
  • “Love where you live” experiments including putting up signs without permission, creating a chalk event, walking rather than taking the car.
  • Placemaker Meg Daly and her idea that resulted in the creation of the 10 mile Miami Underline
  • Choosing to get involved in building your city
  • The more you love your town, the more it loves you back
  • Melody’s 11 “Love Where You Live Principles” including
    • Our towns are what we think they are
    • When you invest, you feel invested
    • Every town is good at something. Do what your town is good at.

Quotes from Melody:

“You may not have ultimate control over where you live or how long you’re there, but you can put down roots while you’re there and really love it and find joy.”

“As Americans we have a problem with restlessness.”

“Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

“I think there’s a true movement toward average citizens doing ground up things in their town to make cool things happen….Average people, residents want to get involved. They want to have a hand in shaping where they live.”

“That’s what happens when you invest in your town. You certainly feel that sense of community and that sense of pride because you, perhaps created something that wasn’t there before.”

Contact Melody:


Twitter: @melodywarnick

Linkedin: Melody Warnick 
Check out Melody’s book, This is Where You Belong, The Art and Science of Loving the Place Where You Live.