The Rust Belt has become a dart board for opinions. Articles like “Why millennials are flocking to Rust Belt real estate,” “How Rust Belt Cities Can Save Themselves,” and “The President of Nowhere, USA” characterize our cities as overly nostalgic investment opportunities.
We know that the story is more complex. Each city is shaping it’s own narrative powered by small business owners, artists, tech entrepreneurs, teachers, laborers, community organizers and more. We understand this nuance because we live here.
This activity is happening just below the surface. It is too easy for us to miss each other, and it is too easy for the outside world to miss our stories.
Late one Friday night in August we (Jake, Dustin, and a few others) were sitting around the house talking about a problem - our city is so full of energy right now and the rest of the country is fixated on the Midwest, but sometimes we don't get a chance to gather and celebrate the people who have been grinding it out and getting shit done day after day.
So many names came to mind immediately of people who are doing the hard work of building culture, community, neighborhoods, and businesses that, when woven together, are the genesis of the excitement about South Bend right now. We quickly asked -- how do we get these people in the same place? How do we entice them to gather, talk, share, and inspire each other?
With a solid dose of naivete I said – let’s do an event. Thoughts on the logistics quickly started flying around -- fond memories of The Birdsell Project’s opening were fresh in our minds, so we decided the Vested Interest courtyard was the spot. We would invite local and regional food, coffee, and beer vendors. We would show off two transforming buildings in an old manufacturing district. The one question left was the date: what’s the latest date that gives us time to prepare, but isn’t too cold to hang outside?
We landed on October 6th, just two months away. In the next two days, I created the illustration and animation at the top of this story, and on the following Monday, we started where all projects start – a Google Doc. The next month and a half was a long list of ‘firsts’ for the team: applying for a liquor license, hiring musicians, organizing food, securing sponsors, choosing session topics, deciding on speakers... the list goes on. It became a whirlwind of coordination and logistics that got overwhelming very quickly.
We note how quickly it happened to say this – we’re making mistakes. Mistakes that probably would’ve been avoided with more time, and that surely would’ve been avoided if we did nothing at all.
This is where we adopt INVANTI’s value of ‘feedback is a gift.’ Our culture of making things in the Midwest thrives on good old fashioned community, so we believe that a gathering is needed. We hope that Sampled can chip away at this need, but we’re not foolish enough to think we’ll get it all right this next weekend. For this to work, We need you, not just to come, but to join us as we figure this out.
We are compelled by the musician’s understanding of sampling — leveraging past work to both pay homage to a heritage and create something entirely new. By sampling one resurgent Rust Belt city we gain a window to people who are getting the shit done, and begin to uncover a road map for other post-industrial cities. Join us October 6th: sampledcity.com
– Jacob Titus and Dustin Mix