Greetings from the Bemis Center, where I’m spending two months working on my new project The Department of Local Affairs. I’ve only been here for a few days but I happened to arrive right before this season’s open studios day, so I invited people into my studio to engage in some collective brainstorming about Omaha.
As The Department of Local Affairs seeks to investigate cities through an aggregation of people’s individual experiences, value systems, and places of meaning, I’m trying to find different metrics for evaluating daily life. Right now, I’m working with a split phrase: without which not and if one thing only. “Without which not” is the thing without which your city/neighborhood would no longer be your city/neighborhood. “If one thing only” is a single thing that exemplifies your city/neighborhood to you, as you use it. I’m interested in where these two ideas (the thing that defines by absence and the thing that defines by presence) overlap, and where they differ.
Some Omaha answers below, and more soon from this new Nebraska land as I learn the language to make these conversations possible.