Meet Your New Neighbors: 'Why I Moved Here'
Get to know vibrant locals who reveal why they chose Arkansas—and why they never want to leave.
Eloa Jane Pereira
Designer and artist, Eloa Jane Art & Design
Originally from: Curitiba, Brazil
Home now: Fayetteville
Artist Eloa Pereira moved from Brazil to Massachusetts to Washington, D.C. and, finally, to Fayetteville. When living in D.C. took a financial toll, Eloa began searching for another place to live. When she looked at Fayetteville, she found it had an affordable cost of living and a vibrant art community.
“I had already been to Fayetteville a few times visiting my daughter,” she says. “I always loved the hilly, quaint town and its ‘funky’ and open-minded community.” She also enjoyed the natural beauty of Northwest Arkansas and the many art galleries, including the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
“I found what I was looking for,” she says. “After 10 years in America, I was finally able to own a home, and not just any home, but the one I wanted.” And when it comes to retiring, she says, “I’m not going anywhere!”
|Your town in three words||Funky, artsy, educated|
|Best local event||Block Street Party|
|Must-do||Nightlife on Dickson Street|
|Advice for folks considering the move||"Keep a funky spirit. Get involved. There's always a party or festival."|
Antonella (Tony) Guinn
U.S. Forest Service Visitor Information Specialist and Gravity BrewWorks Owner
Originally from: Cleveland, Ohio
Home now: Mountain View
Tony Guinn and her husband, Bill Riffle, made the move from Ohio to Arkansas to get “back to the land.” Born and raised in Cleveland, Tony met Bill at the Columbus College of Art & Design. Bill’s grandmother grew up on Arkansas’s White River, and after the two of them came for a visit, Tony knew she wanted to move to the area.
“We came here first as tourists,” she says. “We weren’t nervous — we’d come on vacation and over time decided we wanted to live here.” The couple settled down in Mountain View and opened Gravity BrewWorks in nearby Big Flat. Tony enjoys living among nature. “It’s pretty quiet most of the time. It’s inspirational, since I also do artwork,” she says. “I think my favorite thing is that small-town living is 180 degrees from my growing up days.”
|Your town in three words||Quiet, friendly, musical|
|Best places to eat||JoJo's or Anglers|
|Best local event||Caroling in the Caverns|
|Must-do||See Blanchard Springs Caverns|
|Favorite day trip||Petit Jean State Park|
John A. Faulkner
Town Developer for Wilson, Arkansas
Originally from: Sarasota, Florida
Home now: Wilson
John Faulkner has moved for work to various places: Massachusetts, Connecticut and Tennessee, to name a few. Relocating for work is one thing, but working to reinvent your new home is another. That’s why Faulkner moved to Wilson — to lead a renaissance of the tiny town.
John is the Town Developer and is employed by Gaylon Lawrence, who bought the town in 2010 and kick-started its revitalization, according to an article by The New York Times. John is also gettting back to his roots in the Upper Delta.When he was younger, he spent summers on the family farm near the Mississippi River.
John says he loves the history and culture in his area, but his favorite thing is the spirit of innovation that pervades the town. “Wilson is in a process of renewal,” he says. “You can feel the positive energy of change here.”
|Your town in three words||Historic, changing, pure Delta|
|Best place to eat||The Wilson Café|
|Favorite day trip||Little Rock|
|Advice for folks considering the move||"Expect to meet kind-hearted and sincere people."|
Music minister and evangelist
Originally from: Dermott
Home now: Dermott
Renowned minister and gospel singer, Charles Graham traveled the world before returning home. As a child, Charles lived in Dermott where he and his family worked in the fields. Charles grew up, left for college and lived away for 34 years. He worked and traveled around Europe, Africa and the Americas. He thought he would never live in Arkansas again, but he finally decided to return for good.
“I realized God had changed my heart about the place I had once called home,” he says. Back in the Lower Delta, he purchased a property where his family had worked when he was a child. As a boy, Charles dreamt about being able to see inside the house that he now owns. As a man, he uses his home to promote fellowship. “I get to live alongside everyone in my community and share life together,” he says.
|Your town in three words||Resilient, persistent, history|
|Best place to eat||Dermott Barbecue|
|Best local event||Dermott Community Festival|
|Favorite day trip||Lake Chicot State Park in Lake Village|
Owner/operator of DeLuca’s Pizzeria
Originally from: Brooklyn, New York
Home now: Hot Springs
Anthony Valinoti was used to city life. As a former resident of Brooklyn, Manhattan, Las Vegas, Santa Monica and Miami Beach, he had moved to more than one big city for a job. He came to Hot Springs for himself. “In a simple twist of fate, an old friend pointed me in this direction,” he says. “I was looking to open up a pizza shop in California and that didn’t work out.” After his friend recommended Hot Springs, “I got on a plane the next day and fell in love with [this] wonderful city,” he said.
Fortunately, the move to Hot Springs also provided a job opportunity; he opened up DeLuca’s Pizzeria downtown. Anthony enjoys life in this smaller city. “The ease and pace of the city, having lived in so many concrete jungles, this is truly a breath of fresh air,” Anthony says.
|Your town in three words||Beautiful, serene, magical|
|Must-do||Hike up West Mountain and see the panoramic view.|
|Advice for folks considering the move||"Be prepared to stay; once you're here you're never going to want to leave."|
Vice President of Marketing & Media for ATA International
Originally from: Marlboro, New Jersey
Home now: Little Rock
Jeffrey Nodelman moved all the way from the Big Apple to Little Rock. An award-winning animator, he has worked with companies like Walt Disney and Nickelodeon, and opened his own studio. He also produced the animation for the Tony Award-winning musical “Avenue Q.” While in the big city, he trained in ATA (American Taekwondo Association) martial arts, eventually securing a fourth-degree black belt.
During a job in LA, he bonded with Mike Chat, better known as the Blue Power Ranger, over ATA. Their friendship led to a position with ATA and Jeffrey’s move down south. “[The job created] an opportunity for a complete change of lifestyle for me and my family,” Jeffrey says. The convenience and community he has found in Arkansas are why his family plans to stay. “Little Rock isn’t just a place we live, it has become our home.”
|Your town in three words||Right size, endearing, convenient|
|Best local events||Farmers markets and Hillcrest street festivals|
|Favorite day trip||Petit Jean Mountain|
|Advice for folks considering the move||"Do it!"|