Part One

Creating a Stronger Community Ecosystem Through Interactive Writing and Art Projects”

I have lived in Provo my whole life. I love it here. I find myself pedaling my bicycle as far west as I can so that I can turn around and have a head on view of the mountains as I ride back toward my home. I love this place as you love someone who has taken care of you without reserve for as long as you can remember. In the last 26 years, home in Provo has been many things to me. The house on Grandview Avenue, whose colored memories have been the source for many paintings; the house on the corner across from Rock Canyon Elementary where my brother and I repeatedly attempted to build a tree house; Rock Canyon Elementary; the house in Indian Hills where the giant cherry tree blew down in our front yard, and my youngest sister was born a few days later; the house down the block from that with the watermelon painted swing in the backyard; my grandparents condo in the river bottoms where my grandpa shared his stashed cookies with us; the house we built in south Provo, a modest house that looks nearly identical to 2/3 of the houses on that same block, but that meant stability and pride to my brother, sisters and especially my parents; heritage halls; Elisa’s house where we slept on the trampoline for entire summers; the candle factory in the basement of a house on canyon road where I worked for five years; the HFAC; Gallery 110; the crappy and divided far too many times house on 500 north; the elms; the attic behind the gas station; the 4th floor of the JFSB; and now a basement apartment my husband and I painted yellow, through the heater vents we hear my cousin talking to her baby and shutting the door to the washing machine.

Provo is a place, a community like so many places in the world but it is mine in a sense. We are an ecosystem of people, of hardship both personal and public, thousands of kitchens where families eat bowls of cereal every morning, couches upon which we sit and talk, backyards with fences we peeked over as kids, love fading and love growing, shelves of books arranged alphabetically or according to use. My mom works at the hospital on the baby floor, she tells me about the dozens of babies that go home to some home in Provo everyday. We are a nexus of human thought and emotion and what an experience to be a part of, could we do it alone? What would this life be without the quiet rumblings of a communities collective conscious? Yet still, last autumn when I took on a personal project to do a daily collecting of things like dandelions, wasp nests, corners of colored flyers from downtown and staples from wooden corner posts in my city, I realized that I know so little of the place that has taken care of me for over two decades. I hardly know the place, let alone the people in most of the homes I walked by. I wanted to find ways to use are and writing to know them, to make my community a better place. For the past six years, art and writing projects have served as the vehicle for not only me to be better acquainted with my community, but also, have, on occasion served as a reason for neighbors to come out of their homes and get to know each other. Gablik says, “As artists learn to integrate their own needs and talents with the needs of others, the environment and the community, a new foundation for a non-self-conscious individualism may emerge—and we will have, not necessarily better art, perhaps, but better values, aim, beliefs.” I think that as artists and writers working within a university setting, we often forget that we have something to offer our immediate community, and they in return have a great deal to offer us.

Often I find myself reaching to prestigious and far reaching places to be accepted with my projects when really, perhaps the best place for them would be within a ten mile radius, my home.


k. double-u. said...

I never quite figured that out on my own. I think I'm going to try. Thanks.

redheadsmommy said...

Hi, like what you wrote about our area. I can relate in so many ways.

Are you aware of the new local literary magazine, The Provo Orem Word? Check it out at http://www.provooremword.org/

ashmae said...

i am actually aware of it, I think it's so fantastic, thank you for reminding me. I meant to post about it! We should do local art and writing together.

lia said...

i love this. so so much.

i want to go on a neighborhood walk. i want to collect little strips of papers from my school playground.