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The Origin of 40 Things to Do in Corpus Christi

by Joe Hilliard, Founder

Look at those two adorable kids in that photo with Izzy. I posted that photo on my new Facebook page, 40 Things to Do in Corpus Christi 2010, on February 7, 2010. That night, my son, daughter and I attended our very first Texas A&M-Corpus Christi basketball game, the 2010 Homecoming game.

It was my 2nd activity in a new personal challenge I’d made for myself: to do 40 things in Corpus Christi that I’d never done before or hadn’t done in a very long time. Now why the heck would someone come up with that idea?

In late 2009, I was the host of a Saturday morning radio program on 1440 KEYS AM. The Keys Weekend Magazine was a pop culture program with an emphasis on everything local where I could do, basically, anything I wanted. When you discuss everything local, you discuss the positive and negatives. I call Corpus Christi ‘the best city in Texas,’ but like all great cities, there are negatives and Corpus has its fair share.

Citizens are quick to identify infrastructure problems (streets!!!) as our largest issue, but our street issue is endemic of Corpus Christi’s main problem: lack of community pride and community responsibility.

New residents don’t get this attitude. “We live in paradise here,” they say. I’ve been studying it for over a decade and I still don’t completely get the negative attitude either. Because I know that we live in paradise, too.

That time I got a billboard to promote my Sexiest People in Corpus Christi contest.

AM talk radio–and modern social media–lends itself to a ‘complaint culture’ and a theme that came up from callers on the radio show was, ‘There’s nothing to do here.’

A typical exchange would go something like this:

Caller: “Why are you so positive about Corpus? There’s nothing to do here!”
Me: “Oh? [Some amazing festival] was last weekend. Did you go?”
“No.”
“OK. I went to [some amazing concert] with a bunch of friends. There were like 1000 people there. Did you go?”
“No.”
“Hmmm. Well there was also [some amazing sporting event], [some amazing beach activity], [some amazing restaurant], and [some amazing art opening]. Do any of those?”
“No.”

I’d usually hang up on them at this point. The point had been made. The issue isn’t Corpus. The issue is you and that you’ve bought and are now selling a myth.

I can’t remember exactly how I came up with 40 Things, but the concept was simple. I would choose 40 things I’d never done before or hadn’t done in a very long time and do them over the course of 2010 to disprove this silly notion. I created the Facebook page (Facebook had just started getting popular here) and the positive message was so refreshing that it exploded. I pitched a column on the topic to our local paper and they let me run with it. A weekly column about how awesome Corpus Christi is by proving it with actually going out and doing awesome things? No brainer. It ran for two years so in 2011 I continued with 20 new things. I’d provide a link to those columns, but our paper rebranded their website a few years ago and removed their archives. In researching for this piece, I came across this blog article and it warmed my heart…see #10).

The 8th Thing I did in 2010: Harbor Bridge Bridgewalk

I dropped the ‘2010’ from the Facebook page name and continued with 20 purposeful new listed Things a year for several years until I realized that I didn’t need to plan it out anymore. I had created a lifestyle for myself. I didn’t need to track the 20 or 40 or however many Things I did because I just did them. Corpus Christi is filled with great people doing great things so often that doing them is just a joy and interacting with those people–our city’s creative culture–was where I wanted to spend my time.

That changing one’s mindset is simply the purposeful changing of one’s behavior.

The 9th Thing I did in 2010: See a show at American Bank Center (Elton John)

The Facebook page continues to list Things to Do everyday along with general talk about Corpus Christi including local politics. We post the good and the not so good (to the chagrin of people confused that we aren’t some kind of official chamber of commerce or visitors’ bureau). Regardless, it’s all in the name of betterment.

The website is pared down to the essentials capturing information when we think it’s important. The website crashed recently without a back up so you’re looking at a rebuild in progress. If this page seems thin, you’re right. It’s all part of the journey. This is a passion–not a paid–project. But rest assured that our opinion HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PAID SPONSORS. You can not advertise here and get a favorable review or a fluff piece. The opinions here are authentic and accurate.

Welcome to Corpus Christi, the best city in Texas.

Bold statement? Sure, but after 10 years of studying the Things there are to do here, upward trends in both quantity and quality of Things to Do, the ongoing transformation of our downtown, the conversations about cultural voids in other parts of our city, the emphasis on quality of life and amenities that our city, thanks to the internet, can no longer run away from, it’s just the truth.



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