This project is a mobile radio lab, traveling to the biggest city and a small town in each state, asking people to define their great America: past, present and future. Originally, I planned to personally travel to each state in the union from May to October, 2020. Due to COVID19, I am now embarking on a virtual road trip.
What does this virtual mobile radio lab look like? It is a weekly podcast and a series of short videos from each community along my original route. I am asking librarians to nominate someone in their community for the podcast, and I am asking local videographers to make 5-10 minute videos showing what is special about their community.
This virtual journey will be presented as a screening of the videos and audio from the journey, as well as exhibited in galleries where people can hear the interviews or watch the videos at interactive listening stations.
So… What’s your Great America?
I feel sad.
Feeling sad is normal in the midst of a global pandemic. Actually, if I felt happy, that would be cause for concern. These are hard times with personal, national and global losses.
I have tried to maintain my excitement for this project.
I do not feel excited. I feel sad. Usually excitement fuels my projects and I spend countless hours working on every detail to make them as perfect as possible. But nothing is perfect right now. Perfect is not the goal.
Authenticity is the goal. To that end I have re-crafted In Search of the Great America to fit our new paradigm.
The outbreak of COVID19 has shaken our national identity. As a nation and a people, we have rearranged every aspect of our lives through self-quarantine, social distancing and obsessive hand washing. Questions of personal safety, community preparedness, government oversight, and national responsibility have come to forefront. In this unprecedented time of fear and uncertainty, who are we as a nation? Who do we want to be?
Instead of trying to act happy, let’s tap into this sadness and grief. This is a great time to think about national identity. We can mourn what was and all we’ve lost personally, nationally and globally. Then let us collectively vision a world we’d like to live in.
This gives me hope and renewed energy to go forward with this project.