San Antonio skyline by Kevin G. Saunders.
San Antonio skyline by Kevin G. Saunders.
Robert Rivard

The Atlantic Cities reporter Nona Willis Aronowitz, herself a Millennial, set off a coast-to-coast conversation with the publication of her recent series, “Where Millennials Can Make It Now,’ a nine city tour of emerging U.S. cities of all sizes that are increasingly attractive to young, creative class migrants.

The reaction was strong via social media and posted comments on the Atlantic Cities website as readers took issue with the reporter’s take on individual cities and their strengths and weaknesses, while others extolled the virtues of cities that didn’t make the list. Millennials might not read old media, but don’t accuse them of not reading.

Downtown Kickball in the beautiful Hemisfair Park. Photo courtesy of Kevin McCullough.
Downtown Kickball in the beautiful Hemisfair Park. Photo courtesy of Kevin McCullough.

The strong and sometimes sharp response prompted the writer to publish another article in the Atlantic Cities today headlined, “Where Atlantic Cities Readers Think Millennials Can Make it Now,” which offers a representative sampling of those reader reactions. Most of the readers are quoted from their Twitter feeds, but Atlantic Cities singled out Rivard Report articles written by Kevin McCullough, a young marketing professional with H-E-B , and Rachel Holland, a fellow Millennial who works at the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation:

Kevin McCullough
Kevin McCullough

I was also accused of judging San Antonio too harshly. SAT dwellers seemed to be particularly offended by my assertion that the city is “not cool” (which I didn’t mean as an insult). “We are more than a budget friendly, street taco destination, where we ardently seek out Planned Parenthood,” wrote Kevin (McCullough).

Rachel Holland, HPARC executive assistant
Rachel Holland, HPARC executive assistant

“I couldn’t help but wince at the journalist’s boring and unsophisticated description of our social scene,” wrote Rachel Holland on The Rivard Report’s web site. “Unfortunately, author Nona Willis Aronowitz missed some of the liveliest and most charming parts of San Antonio during her visit.” Kelly Alves argued that San Antonio’s diversity makes it cool: “With its mezcla of Hispanic, German, and Southern Anglo cultures, San Antonio is considered one of the ‘four unique cities’ in the United States…don’t know about Miss Nona, but I find THAT to be seriously cool.”

San Antonio was the first city profiled in the series. “San Antonio’s Simple Appeal to Millennials: Diversity, Decent Jobs & Cheap Living” was published one day after the Rivard Report published an article, “Downtown San Antonio: Good But Not Yet Great,” that included an alert to readers to the coming series.

Holland was one of two readers who came forward with her own article, “San Antonio: Cool and Cultured, and Secure Enough to Say So Politely.” She was joined by McCullough, who wrote, “A Local Millennial to Atlantic Cities: Next Visit to San Antonio, Dig a Little Deeper.”

Holland and McCullough, like the Atlantic Cities reporter, hit a nerve. Nov. 7 was the busiest traffic day in our 21-month history, and both articles continue to draw strong audiences nearly two weeks later.

San Antonio, it seems, has evolved from a city that once craved the attention it seldom received, to a city that is growing more particular about the national attention it now regularly attracts. The people who are proud to call San Antonio home aren’t afraid to speak up when they think the real story is even better than the one being told by others. Credit the Atlantic Cities and Nona Willis Aronowitz for starting a really good conversation, and Rachel Holland and Kevin McCullough for keeping it going.

Follow Robert Rivard on Twitter @rivardreport or on Facebook.

Related Stories:

Downtown San Antonio: Good, But Not Yet Great

A Local Millennial To Atlantic Cities: Next Visit to San Antonio, Dig a Little Deeper

San Antonio: Cool and Cultured, and Secure Enough to Say So Politely

From the City of Brotherly Love to Falling in Love With The Alamo City

Why I’m Stubborn About San Antonio

Meatopia: San Antonio Worships A Weekend of Meat

Robert Rivard, co-founder of the San Antonio Report who retired in 2022, has been a working journalist for 46 years. He is the host of the bigcitysmalltown podcast.