Consider the History of the City I Live in
It began life as yet another way station on the way to the port city. It has suitable land for several forms of agriculture, and has space and resources that make it viable to sustain thriving communities within its environs. It has green space and good drainage (important for how much it rains here, especially in the winter), and its climate is generally favourable. So over time, it drew people to settle into its ever-growing neighbourhoods, townhouse complexes and condo buildings.
But in some key ways, it has never outgrown its starting point as a point of transition for people on their way into the city, or on their way out of it.
Our culture (and our cost of living!) is still primarily driven by the big city. In addition to working in the city, people venture into the city for entertainment, cuisine and other forms of cultural engagement. To a large extent, culture is disconnected and displaced from where people live.
There is a Cost to This
The is certainly felt in the money, time and energy it takes to try to stay connected to the heartbeat of the region. But perhaps the cost is felt even more keenly by the people who are trying to construct more local cultural experiences. They’re fighting an immense amount of inertia trying to put local talent and local patrons together.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a culture here. I would assert that where people are, there is culture. The variable is intention, and effectiveness. And that’s what sparks boundless levels of curiosity in me.
Accidental Culture is Culture
I believe that a noble goal is to be better than accidental. And yet, even as I type that I know that’s not the sum total. Intentional can go too far. Too many decisions carefully orchestrated and precisely-tuned is a phenomenon just as problematic as too few. It can turn us into automatons, just deliberate automatons instead of accidental ones. Sometimes the happy accidents are more important and ultimately more meaningful than the prepared steps.
We need to embrace some intention, but part of that intention must include whimsy and novelty.
And as we think about what our families need, what our community needs, it goes beyond the nuts and bolts of infrastructure and services. We need to experience something that begins to suggest what the possibilities are, in a fresh, dynamic and invigorating way.
Our origins are humble, but what is possible is profound and limitless. I think it’s time we started to live into the imagination of that together.