Henderson: I think diversity plays a key role in development.

If you Arts Goggled or spent a Friday on the Green in recent years, then you partook in Megan Henderson’s handiwork. As director of events for Near Southside Inc., Henderson and her team work to ensure that the Near Southside is synonymous with good times and memorable events. We caught up at a bar she frequents often, Shipping and Receiving, to chat about beer and cultural diversity.

“This bar is homebase for me,” she said while sipping HopFusion’s Feisty Blonde. “I lived around the corner from Shipping and Receiving. It’s a great spot to see my former neighbors.”

Day drinking doesn’t make for productive work days so Henderson usually springs for tea as her beverage of choice. Leave’s bubbly tea, always on draught at HopFusion, is a nice compromise, she said.


“I have nine more years of my shuffling [my daughter] everywhere,” Henderson said. “Then I can have a breakfast beer.”

The Near Southside has an incredibly diverse range of craft beer offerings. What’s good for beer is good for business and culture. Henderson is very mindful that a wide range of thoughts and perspectives can only come from a diverse base of customers and business owners.

“The Near Southside has seen a ton of growth,” she said. “There has been this conversation about how we grow and who gets to be a part of that growth. The creative class is a massive part of that along with small-scale developers who took on risky projects here. I worry that the neighborhood will become overly white and affluent. The most amazing 2018 revelation has been that as I look at the people who are moving into the neighborhood and opening businesses they are pretty damn diverse.”

So, are we talking about race, gender, age, religion, or all the above when discussing diversity?

“If you prioritize any of those over the other you miss the mark,” she said. “It’s not only race, it’s culture, age, investment capital — the whole breadth of experience people bring.”

Diversity trumps politics, she added. More than political party affiliation, Near Southside residents are tied by tenants of open mindedness and mutual respect toward others, she said. Henderson is excited to see a high percentage of women-owned businesses opening shop in her district. There are still strides to be made with regards to women of color and other demographics, she added. But the area is seeing progress on several fronts. Many of the new businesses opening on South Main Village are either Asian-, Latina-, or otherwise female-owned. Diversity is good for business, and it’s healthy for the broader city, Henderson said.

“If you have six retail fronts, you’re not going to put six salons side by side,” she said. “As a real estate guy, you’ll want a dry cleaning place, a salon, and a restaurant. I think diversity plays a key role in development. That diversity becomes a catalyst for visitors to seek out what all is in your neighborhood. That’s how you turn neighborhoods into destinations.”

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On Tap this Week:

Resilience IPA Taproom Release at Wild Acre Brewing

From Wild Acre: Saturday, Dec 15th from 2-6pm, we are releasing Resilience IPA, which was brewed to raise money for those impacted by the Camp Fire in California. 100 percent of Resilience’s sales will be donated to the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire relief fund to help Butte County rebuild its community. Come out and enjoy a great beer for a great cause! Music by The Pour Brothers. Visit the event page here.

The Grinch Movie Night at Panther Island Brewing

From Panther Island: Don’t be a grinch! Join us, December 16th for a holiday classic: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! 7:00 Show time. $15 for 4 pours or turn a pour in for a pint glass. Visit the event page here.