#HomeGrownStories – Lorna Swisher
Lorna Swisher, originally from Zimbabwe, Africa, has lived in Miami County for the past 31 years. She is the long-time director of Mainstreet Piqua, a non-profit organization that focuses on the development and promotion of downtown Piqua. Lorna works with local business owners to help them pursue their own version of the American Dream and loves the people of Miami County. Lorna was recently interviewed for our Home Grown Stories campaign.
On moving to Miami County:
I have lived in Miami County since 1986, so many years! 1986 to 2017, so thirty-one years! I am originally from Zimbabwe. I was an exchange student to Piqua in 1985. I went home for a while and then a family here in Piqua invited me to come back and they sent me to college and I’ve been here since then. I am definitely not from Miami County but I have grown to love and appreciate what this area is.
How Miami County is different from Zimbabwe:
Growing up in southern Africa, the climate is very different, there were pretty much two seasons in Zimbabwe, dry and wet. The first time I experienced snow was when I came to the states in 1985. The way of life is a lot slower when I was growing up. You know when they talk about “Hakuna Matata” in the Lion King? I very much grew up with that pace of life, and although Miami County is not a fast pace of life, it is faster than it was when I was growing up.
How Miami County is different from other areas of Ohio:
I wonder how many areas have three communities on the interstate that are in their own way uniquely fabulous, you know? I think what Piqua has to offer is different to what Troy has to offer, which is different to what Tipp has to offer. In my opinion, what they have to offer is so unique they really can’t be compared. I think the demographics of each community are unique as well. I wonder about that often since I drive through all three of them every day.
Why she loves Miami County:
The people. I guess you call them midwestern values, whatever they are, I love the people. I love how caring they are and friendly they are. I think that you could probably stop and talk to just about anybody for any length of time and have a great conversation with somebody. I love the scenery as well. I spent most of my time here in Piqua and I live in Tipp City now. I am blessed every day to drive almost the entire length of the county to come to work. I just love the scenery and the people.
On Mainstreet Piqua:
I will have worked for Mainstreet Piqua for 24 years in July this year. I was hired in on a short-term, part-time position when the previous director left. I love their [Piqua business owners] spirit. I love the fact that people hang up their shingle every day and pursue their form of the American dream. I think that’s admirable and amazing. I like supporting them in that role. I believe that the communities in this area, the folks that make these places special, are the entrepreneurs and the change-makers. I just love being a part of helping them achieve their goals.
Her favorite Miami County spots:
I would say that my favorite park is definitely Charleston Falls Preserve. I love the falls, I love the hiking trails, I love that whole area. A very close second is Fountain Park in Piqua. Hance Pavilion, the huge trees, the grass, I love, love Fountain Park. Right now my favorite restaurant is 311 Drafthouse! They are serving amazing food and I could go eat there every day. I love the chocolates at Winans Chocolates + Coffees. I love Apple Tree Gallery, I love the Anderson’s, they’re amazing people. I love their stuff, I love Christmas so I love the stuff they have there. Could I be any vaguer [laugh]?