Celebrating the culture-shed

In September I left my full-time job and started doing my own thing. It’s May, and I finally got around to revamping my personal portfolio. It’s given me a chance to reflect on my own work and presented the challenge of writing… about myself. Writing this project description for my Wide Awake video helped me realize the power of what I do:

“I suddenly discovered value in my work beyond entertainment and aesthetic pleasure. The things I make can help amplify the power of the things I believe in, from small, local businesses to a regional food system to simply better bread.”

I’ve struggled with justifying my work as having importance in our community: I’ve always thought that it’s the subjects of my stories that are really making a difference. Full Plate is feeding people, Hammerstone is empowering women to defy traditional gender roles, Wide Awake is supporting the revival of native wheat crops, Boxy Bikes is lowering carbon emissions. I’m just helping them amplify their message and celebrate their efforts.

But then I found this definition:

CULTURESHED (kul’cher-shed) n. 1. A geographic region irrigated by streams of local talent and fed by deep pools of human and natural history. 2. An area nourished by what is cultivated locally. 3. The efforts of writers, performers, visual artists, scholars, farmers and chefs who contribute to a vital and diverse local culture.

By creating this kind of positive media, telling the stories I tell, and sharing memories of celebrations long after they’re over (photo booth!), I’m not just celebrating our local culture, I’m building it!

Across our community, I’ve heard this resounding idea of pride and camaraderie in our region as a foundational priority, whether the goal is tourism, economic development, or building a sustainable food system. By celebrating the stories of success I hope to build this kind of pride, which will hopefully lead to engagement and catalyze efforts to do more good.

Celebration—whether it’s through photography, video, storytelling, journalism, gatherings, or music—makes change. It’s not just a party. It’s not just something that comes once the work has been done. It’s part of the work to keep things moving, growing, and engaging.

A note about this blog: Who knows if I’m going to keep it up? I have plans to post updates about projects, process, and my community efforts, but we’ll see what happens. I promise though, it’s not all going to be this wordy.

This post was totally inspired by Holly George’s post, Cultivating Community Vitality. Featured photo from an awesome community celebration at Firelight Camps.