I'm increasingly of the view that the New York Times chooses content largely for blog-worthiness. How else to explain such a lackadaisical, listless, wandering...oh wait, those are the people the article's about. But the article in question, Towns They Don't Want to Leave, tells you just what you already know—that college towns are havens for hangers-on, some of whom do nothing and others of whom experiment and accomplish—in that special NYT kind of way, which is to spot trends so slowly that everyone's already forgotten about them. And to wrap them up in a top-k listing to give bloggers something to argue.
But, all that's neither here nor there. What (or who) is here is, for instance, a class act as a cheese-maker: according to the Providence Daily Dose, that's Louella Hill, who revolutionized the food sources and products at Brown. The article's central Providence slacker, Megan Hall, is one of the sharpest, liveliest Brown students I've ever had the pleasure of meeting, brimming with great attitude and incadescent energy. It's people like this make Providence a worthy competitor to Davis or Athens, GA. And while I disagree with some of these people about their politics or economics, life would be much, much poorer without them.
(Somewhat disturbing is a mutual friend's claim that the author is a friend of Megan's. A rather relevant fact that ought to have been in the article...if it were in a serious publication, that is.)