Monday, June 28, 2010

The West vs. The South

Being raised the majority of my childhood in the south, and specifically in Nashville, and then moving west to Colorado the past 6 years, it has been both moments of joy and moments of loss. The two cultures are quite different. The West and the South. What they value, the roots of their origins, the spirit of the places. The people. The food. It can at times feel like two different countries.

I think we often have to leave home to appreciate it. And we often have to leave home to find the thing we just could not receive in the place we grew up. Most great stories have some sort of journey in them. Leaving home. Often returning. I think that is why the story of the west and the south need to find one another. And why at B&C we hope to tell it.

Part of our clothing company is bringing parts of the two together.

Here is what I love about the south:

1. Family. There are family businesses. 4 generation of families in churches. There are reunions. There is a sense of caring for one another. Meat and 3. Picnics. Emphasis on sports like football, baseball, and soccer that are community sports.

2. Traditions. As a kid, I hated the traditions of the stuffy churches with the old singing and starch white shirts required, but I have come to enjoy traditions that go beyond our own generation. Things of the past. They transcend the moment and our feelings to something deep and full of history and story. The traditions help in our understanding our place, and the chance to carry that on to our families one day. A story bigger than ourselves.

Here is what I struggle with about the south:

1. Family. Family can turn into a weird little cult. Protecting the images, and trying to live up to the gold frame picture that lives on most mantle places in the houses of the south. There is a sense of entitlement of I deserve this or that. There is often a lack of independent thinking. You just believe what your family believes.

2. Traditions. The traditions that are anchoring, can also spin into lifeless acts that leave the south disconnected from other places in the world and the country. There becomes a pride in a culture beyond just enjoying it, but maybe elitism of sorts.

Here is what I love about the west:

1. Ruggedness

The west is about stepping into the unknown. Going to where the land matches the terrain of the wild places in our soul. It is the territory of Lewis and Clark, wild herds of elk, native cutthroat troat, and where our ancestors left everything to just a covered wagon for a new land. You have to be tough to survive. The sports here are skiing, backpacking, cycling, rock climbing, mostly based on individual performance and heading not on manicured fields of grass, but heading into the rugged land, exploring, and competing against it.

2. Individualism

There is the chance to do your own thing. Not be confined to the ways of family, or traditions that can constrict. You can explore your faith in a rather unorthodox way. There is an openness to your way. There isn't one line, one style that you must fit into to be a part of it. You don't have to go with the flow.

Here is what I struggle with the west:

1. Ruggedness

The west prides itself in its wildness. It is less tame, less prone to being confined to a city. Or wearing a blazer, much less a pink shirt. The explorers who went west often lacked a cultured spirit that brought them into community, into refined values.

2. Individualism

The people were going to new land and the hope to strike gold. They often were getting away from something back east, and therefore were not prone to bringing it with them. THey started over, maybe for good, maybe for bad. There is an independence of doing things on your own, and community and traditions are not as much a priority as a fres spirit to do what you want. The sports and hobbies here and often the people can be a little more self focused than community focused.

So which is better? I am not sure I can say. I think they have a mix of the good and the bag. A priest Richard Rohr says for all good things, there is often the shadow side of things. The negative part of the positive.

I would like to think of that with the values of each. It is also why I think the two need each other. The West of individualism and ruggedness needs some experiences that the South can offer. Same with the Southern boy of family and traditions who might need to head West to work out at a ranch in the summer to get a part of him he can't find in his own culture.

I would like to think B&C is creating a belief that we need each other... the South and the West. An expression of two parts we need to find within us. An appreciation and respect for both, but not that one is better than the other.

Friday, June 11, 2010

In search of wisdom.

I was at a little coffee place I frequent in the mornings today. Every Monday through Friday a group of retired gentleman gather there to talk about just about everything. One man in particular who is in his 80's is becoming quite an interesting man in conversation. He is always asking me what I am typing on my laptop, and no matter what I say, he seems to know about it. In fact, he said he had thought awhile about getting on facebook, but he realized most of his friends were dead. I laughed at his joke. But realized, he wasn't kidding, he is as alive and interesting as any man I have met.

Well, we were talking about Teddy Roosevelt today, and he said, you know he is a progressive right. Well, kind of I said. And he went on to tell me about the movement, and Woodrow Wilson, and FDR. I was kind of interested in learning about it and I said, "I need to look more of that up." And he just stared at me and said, "Well, I lived through it."

And it just kind of hit me staring at him. That I hadn't even thought of saying, tell me more. Or what was that like. Or did I even connect that there are people alive, and men alive sitting at coffee shops right next to me that know these stories of the past. I was going to google it. He was it.

I love technology. I really would love one of those ipads. But I wonder how man screens we are getting our information from, instead of seeing who is right before us. Or who we could talk to. I need to practice the art of asking and listening. and sitting. versus all the knowledge at my finger tips get the quick facts gathering life. I am sitting on my laptop in a coffee shop full of googles with real stories within them.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

From poverty to distinguished gentleman

Abraham Lincoln was born into a poor working family in a one room log cabin. Their state of Kentucky was seen as rugged wilderness and known to many as “the west.” His father was an uneducated man who taught the hard lessons to Abe of long hours and the use of an axe, but had little experience in the greater ambitions that Abe sought.

Hoping to better himself, he learned ways to earn money through tradesmen and business men who were eager to hire Abe to float their products on flatboats down the Mississippi for trading in New Orleans. With some of this earned money, he purchased white fabric and with his own hands sewed together his first dress shirt. He was an avid reader, and while only spending 18 months in formal education, he was able to teach himself law, and entered politics though he didn't have an education, powerful friends, or money.

His ambition and self-education landed him as the 16th president until he was assassinated.

At Buffalo & Company, we believe in the men who stepped into the other side. Whether it was a rich kid who went west, like Teddy Roosevelt, or a small working class farmer, who worked his way into politics. We honor the men who went against the grain.