As a teenager, I witnessed the dismantling of the structures and institutions that represented the identity of an entire region. I would often hear my hometown described as dirty and broken – a place to be avoided. We were stereotyped as provincial, holding on to glory days that had long past.
In some ways those sentiments were very true. The air and rivers were polluted to such an extent, that it has taken decades to alleviate some of that damage. Entire neighborhoods and boroughs were decimated due to the collapse of the industry. The roads, bridges, tunnels and other vital infrastructure were left neglected. Racial and economic inequality kept us culturally segregated in ways that still need to be addressed. The only respite came from the victories of our sports teams, and even that alienated large portions of our community.
In other ways the negative sentiments were in direct opposition to my experiences. I found my fellow citizens to be friendly, humble, creative, intelligent and devoutly proud. Our history is a story of a resilience. The physical environment we occupy is a constant reminder that nature is relentless in taking back what is hers. All of this has influenced the city’s cultural memory and its collective identity. Living here you quickly learn that even your greatest accomplishments are fleeting in the cycle of change.
Homespun can be used to describe the unrefined quality of something, but it can also imply that something has a unique or personal touch - something to take pride in. Homespun is about the fiber of a culture, of a community. It is an exploration of a course yet captivating place.