A Place to Begin / by Matthew Slaats

Being able to start fresh and contemplate a wide open future is a privileged position. In any direction lies opportunity. Some of those opportunities will lead to truly exceptional outcomes, while others will be chalked up as learning experiences.  Anything is possible and that is where both Pauselab and I find ourselves at this exact moment. 

We each have history. I see the value of that history residing in the collaborations and relationships that were built through past projects. Strong bonds of trust and admiration were built and continue to remain strong. Yet, the context has changed and distance now separates us. Meaning, new experiences and partners must be found.

So the question is how best to move forward? Where to focus? Which path to choose? 

As of late, one primary question has been ever present. I am reminded of it everyday as I read the newspaper, walk the streets of Charlottesville, and gaze into the eyes of my neighbors. It is a question that seeks to understand the importance of a city and the values it holds. Here it is: "Where does the soul of the city reside? What makes it unique and who is responsible for maintaining it?"

It is not too difficult of a question. Many answers immediately come to mind. Yet, I have to immediately respond with another question. Should I be the one to answer? My feeling is that it must be shared and distributed, pass amongst the 45,000 other people that live in this city.  Each I am sure will have a different answer. 

Over the upcoming months and years, I am going to delve into the soul of Charlottesville, following it where it leads and looking forward to the surprises it will provide.  This blog will serve as my way of documenting what I hear and see.  The format will be varied with both writing and audio serving as the preferred media. At the moment, I hope to produce one a month. Themes may appear.  I may follow them or may not.  

I have already made one decision. I will not be looking to the usual suspects, the voices of power that we hear so often, to answer this question.  I am interested in listening to the everyday voices that do not seek a platform or podium, yet hold important knowledge. This is where I would like to find my answers. 

In the upcoming weeks, I will be reaching out to a few people to begin my search.  Several names are on my list. I will be curious to see how they respond and where the conversation goes. 

Now to just get on with it. 

Matthew Slaats - Aug 15, 2016