exploring former boom towns and how we move forward.
Making Photographs in a North Carolina Boom (and bust) town
Julie: “So what are we going to do on our anniversary?”
Me: “I dunno, I just want to get out of Raleigh.”
Julie: “Where ya wanna go?”
Me: “Up. Always up.”
Julie: “So… north?”
Me: “Sure, what the hell, north sounds good. Let’s roll!”
Planning is Overrated
Despite having accepted that some amount of planning is necessary for certain applications in life, by and large I hate planning. In my head, planning isolates opportunities, which is entirely unacceptable. There needs to be some semblance of order in my world of chaos. I’ve created that order by setting clear goals and objectives. When Julie asked me what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go I told her, “I want to go on an adventure, somewhere unexpected, make some beautiful photographs, and find something new and interesting to us.” Could I be any more vague yet perfectly clear? Where is that location? Hell if I know, but I know it’s out there, so lets go find it! On this particular adventure it ended up being Franklinton, NC, population 2,000, of which 36% live in poverty, named after Benjamin, former cotton mill town, and known for such grim historical events as the brutal lynching WWI Vet Powell Green.
Exploring the town
Carrying a camera on adventuring days is akin to carrying a divining rod. Handle it lightly, surrender yourself to the pull and you’ll find the source you’re seeking. Put a camera in the hand and a door opens in the mind. If it doesn’t, then put the camera down, the time isn’t right. Be patient, you can’t rush these things.
Julie: “You think we’re gonna see Daryl?”
Me: “Who the heck is Daryl?”
Julie: … long pause and sideways stare …
Me: “Oh, damn… we ARE on the set of the Walking Dead!”
The Vault for Cotton Mill Millionaires 4 images
Reflections, Rest, & Revenge3 images
Southern Charm Can’t Be Killed
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
and before the street begins,
and there the grass grows soft and white,
and there the sun burns crimson bright,
and there the moon-bird rests from his flight
to cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
and the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
we shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow
and watch where the chalk-white arrows go
to the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
and we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
for the children, they mark, and the children, they know,
the place where the sidewalk ends.
- Shel Silverstein
Reflections, Relics, Rebirth
“Ultimately everything depends on the quality of the individual, but our fatally short-sighted age thinks only in terms of large numbers and mass organizations…”
Carl Jung from “The Undiscovered Self”
The Undiscovered Self was written by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung in 1958. This book has been the single most important piece of literature I’ve ever read. If I could only recommend one single book for anyone to read it would be this one. Passages like this resonated when I read it for the first time over 10 years ago and still resonate today.
“Instead of the concrete individual, you have the names of organizations and, at the highest point, the abstract idea of the State as the principle of political reality…
…Instead of moral and mental differentiation of the individual, you have public welfare and the raising of the living standard. The goal and meaning of individual life (which is the only real life) no longer lie in the individual development but in the policy of the State, which is thrust upon the individual from outside and consists in the execution of an abstract idea which ultimately tends to attract all life to itself.
The individual is increasingly deprived of the moral decision as to how he should live his own life, and instead is ruled, fed, clothed, and educated as a social unit, accommodated in the appropriate housing unit, and amused in accordance with the standards that give pleasure and satisfaction to the masses.”
Carl Jung from “The Undiscovered Self”
“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.”
- Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Entrepreneurship, small business, technology and a focus on creating value are key ingredients to revitalizing the decaying towns left in the wake cheap labor. What if we invested heavily in these areas? What if that was the focus of our efforts and the topic of our conversations? What if young business people like Ivan and Shavonne could teach others how to thrive (without peddling Ponzi scheme products like Thrive)? What if…
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pol?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow talle?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems swell, and then
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!
- Shel Silverstein
Relics from the era of North Carolina manufacturing. 3 images
I think some part in all of us yearns for the return of vibrant downtowns, bustling Mom & Pop shops and the absence of Starbucks, Panera Bread, Best Buy and Home Depot. It’s up to us, the young & enterprising to figure how to compete with the allure and narcotic temptation to support only that which is cheaper. How do we add value to your life? How do we create an experience worth paying for? How do revitalize a decaying nation? These are the questions. Now to continue the search for solutions.