Small Town, Small Talk, Statewide Impact
a couple of 830 mile long conversations is a long hello to and from Nebraska. One mile at a time, one conversation at a time, this project is about exploring and building connections in the state. I am an expat Brit now living in Omaha who, driven by a belief in the ability of conversation to spur community, will travel the side roads of the state in an RV to engage with Nebraskans. I will set up a public conversation space in towns on the route and talk with residents about their lives, their cultures and their stories. In these conversations, I will travel through places to discover people and, in so doing, reveal Nebraska to ourselves.
Timeline and Route
The project will take place during a four week period between August 10 and September 5, 2015. The route is detailed on this map, although I intend for random serendipity to allow for some straying.
The Purpose Behind The Project
The project will journey through the Nebraska landscape and its history, approaching Nebraska with honest warmth, open acceptance and sincere curiosity. Honoring a long line of oral history tradition, from traveling troubadours to Alexis de Tocqueville to John Steinbeck to Charles Kuralt, a couple of 830 mile long conversations will seek and share those narratives that define and unite us. It will celebrate our culture and how we each contribute to it, evoking a place and its people, connecting us to Nebraskans, their stories and their lives. These are tales of joy and despair, courage and disappointment, love and loss, and good deeds and misdeeds that richly illustrate our Nebraska experience. Telling and hearing our stories is an affirmation of our common dignity and a simple act that contributes collectively to our sense of togetherness.
Why This Matters – Benefiting The Community
While there are areas of academic practice and artistic examination related to Nebraskan history, traditions, culture, community and arts, this project synthesizes several approaches holistically through the less commonly explored medium of conversation. There is little comparable work that creates and captures, at a collaborative human level, a statewide local sense of who Nebraskans are and how they speak of creating community. This project will capture the voice of Nebraska as it exists at a particular moment. Like a good conversation, it is ephemeral yet has resonance in its immediacy.
Every conversation will be spontaneous, without script or agenda, and is open to anyone that stops by. Each conversation will be allowed to take its own course, but with the two following common threads:
- Everyone I speak with will at some point in the conversation be asked, “How do you create community?”
- Every conversation will include some point of discussion from prior conversations, enabling all participants to be part of and to contribute to a narrative that progresses across the state.
After the Project
In Fall/Winter 2015 there will be four public presentations across the state in Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings and Scottsbluff.