It is Saturday and here in Augusta, GA, like many other cities around the world we had a Women's March. The weather here was nasty. Rain, pouring at times, and some lightning to top it off. I'll be honest and say that I did not march, yet I did cheer on all those participating as they walked through downtown.
What was brought to my attention by a friend was the number of people that participated in this march. At first I didn't understand their amazement, because in my opinion I found it a worthy cause, then they made a point. "It's Augusta and they still came out in the rain."
As anyone from this area most likely knows, and I'm sure it's this way in some other similar size cities, if the weather is slightly off, don't expect much of a crowd. It's sad to say that, but it is all too often the truth. I wish I could put my finger on why this is, and trust me I have some thoughts, but all too often conditions dictate some people's participation in things, not their actual feelings or passions. Fortunately for this event people overcame the discomfort of nasty weather and showed support for, in my opinion, a good cause.
I've often wondered, though, what it is about my community and others that makes people tend to let the littlest inconvenience keep them from being a part of something that could do good for not just them, but a community at large? I've seen it in many ways over the past few years. In my own personal sphere it comes about in our local art community.
Over the few years that I have tried to be as active of a member as I possibly can, I've seen ideas come and go. Many of them never get beyond being just ideas. We tend to come up with ideas to bring together a group for the greater good, have a meeting or two, agree on what we think should be done, and leave feeling good about what can be done. Then the crickets start chirping. No one seems to want to take the next step of actually implementing the ideas.
Don't get me wrong, I have been as guilty as the next person on occasion, but it's not because I don't care. For me it ends up being a mixture of personal desires for my own work, not wanting to carry all or most of the load, not being a painter or illustrator, and encountering the dreaded apathy that seems to creep into many of the things that get started in this area. Does anyone else have these issues, or at least struggle with one of them? It is one of those things that I don't get and, though I try, can't seem to wrap my head around it.
We have many great artists in this city and the surrounding area, many of them who are not even known to the other artists working here. All of the ones that I know seem to crave some sort of unity, be it a group or a goal that we work towards. Try as we may, though, we seem to either lose focus, interest, or just never find a goal common enough for all of us to get on board an strive towards. As a woman I met in Montana over Christmas said to me, "It sounds like you have 'small town' problems." Maybe so, but we are not, at least physically, a small town.
Maybe it comes down to all of us needing to work on ourselves and our own work. If we strive to make our work seen and noticed outside of our little sphere, maybe then we can draw attention to the efforts and goals that we have for this amazingly talented community.
I honestly don't know what the answer is to making these ideas all come together. However, as I watched the marchers in Augusta today braving the pouring rain, I couldn't help but notice that there are people in this community that will stand up and do in spite of what roadblocks, natural or not, are thrown in front of them. My hat is off to all of you. Thank you for giving me pride in my community and giving me faith that maybe our community of artists can take some hints from you about sticking to it an making it happen.