Woody Guthrie wrote the song “Roll On, Columbia” in 1941 as an advertisement for hydroelectric power. As much as I don’t generally like product placement, it’s a fun song to sing about wherever you are.
This weekend I took an urban tour of Ohio, top to bottom, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland. Glancing at facebook this morning, I see that many of my friends were adventuring through dramatic woods, mountains, rock climbing. When did I start going to so many cities? When I was younger I was pretty terrified of cities, and the mix of exhilaration and exploration and “I AM HAVING AN EXPERIENCE HERE, RIGHT NOW” I got when I did nervously wander into Chicago or DC painted all those experiences with a dramatic brush. It was like those memories were put through a fancy cell phone app that makes them prettier and more dramatic than they probably really were, or maybe, a metaphor from the opposite end of the tech spectrum, painted by someone from the Hudson River School.
The other thing about that feeling of exploration, is I often worried if I was really HAVING AN EXPERIENCE and if there was something more definitely an EXPERIENCE that I should be doing so as to be fully experiencing things.
These days though, who can bother, traveling is just balancing my obligations and capacity and going places that have a few interesting things going on, run by busy people who all have their own things happening. And yet, there is a quiet beauty in exploring quiet pockets of places and meeting people who are excited about making things and making things happen.
I ran down to the International Quilt show in Cincinnati, stopping by a fabric lovers heaven at the Fabric Shack in Waynesville, OH. I had heard people rave about the Fabric Shack – which is epic – but I was equally charmed by this quiet little town on a river filled with small businesses. Say what, a healthy historic downtown in a rural area?~!? PLUS they have an annual Sauerkraut Festival. Boom!
Ok, then lots of quilts, meeting quilters, being the youngest person in the room…until I got to the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild meet up. I learned several new skills and techniques that I will use to make projects that I have had in my mind and not known quite how to do. Dunno if I can express to you how empowering that feeling is?
I hope I passed on a similar feeling of empowerment to at least a few of the folks I trained with in Cleveland at a Anti-Fracking action camp. Here I was among the oldest folks in the room. We talked about messaging, and visions, and solutions to the problems we see. I shared a few things that help me work smarter instead of harder, and they rolled off to do amazing things.
Then Matt and I helped build a few greenhouses in this crazy old church/urban blight spot that is being converted into a lovely 3 acre urban farm. How is this urban farm different from others I’ve been to?
1. You camp inside.