05 Jun Old School, New Project
No, not “old school” as in an old photograph, or even a comedy movie reference, but literally… old school. Like… driving back to the small town I attended high school at, a place I’ve maybe visited twice since graduating about 11 years ago now. A defining moment I think is brewing in this old town. It’s something you can kinda smell in the air, lots of exciting things just around the corner for this place.
In short, the town of Toledo, WA is hurtin’. The community as a whole (including schools, residents, and the local businesses) is slowly eroding away, something Toledo has witnessed within the towns that share it’s very boarders. People new and old, past and present residents don’t want to see it fade away in the wind, and they are trying to do something about it. They’ve created “vision: Toledo,” a group of community members who are pulling together to see what they can do inject life back into Toledo. Being a past resident and student myself, I found it important to do what I could to join the movement. I think attending a small school, actually getting to call everyone in the school by their first names, literally knowing each and every person in the school, and feeling that true sense of community is a privilege. I’ve moved a lot in my life and I got a steady taste of larger schools. In the bigger places it seems like you are just another kid in the giant herd, another tally to an already large number of students, and never really getting that sense of community, cause… well that community is just so big you never really get the full scope of things. I made the conscious decision to attend the Toledo school, see what all the small town fuss was about. Turns out it really was a different kind of experience, something that felt more meaningful, more substantial. Everything from having a better relationship with all the teachers, to sports, to not having to use last names with every peer reference… it was nice. I think I turned out different, better than I would have than if I had attended a larger school, maybe even leaving school feeling like I had a better grasp on my own identity.
It was a homecoming that was long overdue as I drove into the town, memories flooded my mind. The roads that my feet pounded miles on while running cross country, the gas station where I filled my tank at $.99 a gallon during high school, and the scenery as I drove out to a close family’s house. The photo above is nothing special, I literally pulled into my friend’s driveway at the last minutes of the sunset and snagged this photo. It’s more of a documentation pic, proof I was back in my old stompin’ grounds. I was in Toledo to launch an idea with my good friend and creative colleague, Andy (we both were in the same class in Toledo). To rewind a bit, we spent a really late night about a week ago talking about what we could do, how we could integrate our talents into this effort. We came up with something great, it would be launched within to school system, and it would be mainly focused around the students of the Toledo schools. We’d talked with the leaders of the community, the people leading the charge with the town revival, and they loved it. We branded our branch of the effort, bought the domain name, launched a site, and there you have it… Project Showcase. I’ll let the site we stood-up for this project do the rest of the talking for now, cause you’ll hear plenty from me in the months to come about this project. Just a heads-up, not much content on the site right now (as of the date of this posting), but that was the reason for the trip to Toledo. We invested a full day in the high school generating a lot of imagery of the students to launch their inspiration by seeing us lead the way. All of this content, which is fantastic by the way, will be dropping this next week. It will definitely be gracing the Project Showcase site.