I had the chance to sit down for lunch with John Smither and Liz Ganz several days ago. Most of you know Smither - or at least know of him because you know of Smither Company Real Estate. Liz Ganz moved here this past summer as a dance artist in residence and dance teacher. John and Liz showed me a great deal of hospitality by cooking and serving lunch, and I would like to formally thank them for that. I would also like to formally apologize for not eating much; I was having a hell of a time getting my fork to stab through the salad. I guess I now know that I should have gone with the chopsticks!
Throughout lunch, we discussed a lot of things, but most importantly, we discussed the mutual desire to get people involved in things in our community. Huntsville has always been home to artists, writers, builders, eccentrics of all kinds, people that are curious or seeking culture, and people that are just plain weird. However, there has also always been a lack of a way for all of these different people and groups to connect. When I say connect, I don't mean via Facebook. The internet has been a huge help to us in so many ways, but it also assists in creating a barrier that makes it ridiculously easy for us to become homebodies. In some ways, "social networking" actually makes us socially stagnant. Where are we supposed to go to make real, human connections? Huntsville has its share of bars, and at some of them, a good time can be had, but aside from those bars, where do you go to meet people and engage in meaningful conversation or activities?
This is a problem that we at Hey, Huntsville! and they at Crazywood would like to join together to help solve. You may be familiar with Crazywood; it is located right next to the real estate office on Sam Houston Avenue. When I asked for a meeting with John and Liz, one of the topics I wanted to discuss was Crazywood and what in the world was going on with it at this time. In the past, I had visited Crazywood Gallery for a few art exhibits and sales, a slam poetry competition, and even a noise show. I hadn't heard about anything happening there in a long while.
It turns out, Crazywood still has exhibits in the gallery (currently: the works of Bill Haveron), but they have turned their focus on dance. The name does a good job at describing the essence: Crazywood Art and Movement Center. Several dance classes will be offered starting this month - a weekly Nia class, a class called beingLoved, etc. The center also plays host to dance retreats.
One of the most interesting events happening in the Crazywood world goes down on October 11. This will be the first in the new weekly event: Dance Night.
I am glad to have had the chance to have a conversation with people who are passionate about something. While John and Liz may be more passionate about dance and I may be more passionate about art, we all have one passion in common: making real connections with people through real experiences with them. As I told them, I couldn't tell you the last time I had a conversation with a friend via phone. Texting and Facebook have eliminated the need for verbal communication. Why would I feel the need to call you when I just read a detailed description of what you cooked or had at a restaurant (with bonus photo attached!)? Why would I travel to your house for a visit when I can sit here by myself on my laptop and Skype you or get in on your Google hangout? We know more than ever about each other (congrats on that bacon wrapped in bacon recipe you perfected and the jalapeno dip that went right through you, btw), yet we don't know each other at all any more. When's the last time you gave a friend a hug or a real shoulder to cry on? "OMG SORRY" via text or IM doesn't cut it, guys. I've been saying this for a while, but maybe I haven't been saying it loud enough: Let's go out and do something!
There are a lot of events that go on around town that no one seems to care about, but I am going to be an optimist and say that no one knows about them. Sometimes they're not advertised well, and sometimes they're not advertised at all. That's where we want to come in. Please go to our Facebook page (I know, I know!), like it, and keep up with our posts. Alternatively, bookmark our calendar of events and check it every once in a while. We recently teamed up with ITZ Magazine as well, so you can grab one of those (for free) and tear the calendar out. Sometimes we hear about events after our deadline to ITZ, so the best thing to do is check out the calendar online.
If you skimmed this article, here's a summary: Huntsville has all kinds of awesome people inhabiting it. Let's all get together and do things! Let's create art together, view other people's art, dance together, watch films and theatre performances together, attend live music performances together, encourage each other in everything we do, and most of all, become more connected with each other. I don't just want to tell you about events with boring status updates every day. I want to attend these events with you, get to know you, and build a better community with you.
I'll make the first move: I'll be at Dance Night on October 11, even though I am not someone who dances. I dare you to join me. Say hello. Tell me what you're passionate about. Make a connection with me and with other people in our awesome little town. See you there!