Many small towns have a good idea of the importance of the arts. Some have arts councils and arts festivals, and most are starting to better value rural artists. What about the broader concept of culture? Culture is generally mentioned only around urban areas. The rural is almost considered the opposite of "cultivated".
A definition of art that I have heard about is the way people make sense. That's fine, I think. People create things that make sense of their lives and their environment. Culture understands this and more.
Culture is the intersection of people and place.
When a particular group of people live in a particular place, it creates ways to do things that are its culture: find, grow and prepare food; Make music; design buildings; to decorate themselves and their clothes; provide their environment; do business with each other and survive the weather. All these elements of culture exist in rural areas.
People living in a place have developed a culture that is inspired by the very characteristics of the place to create new methods that make life better, easier and richer. When new people arrive, they bring their culture and they interact with the local culture and place, enriching the mix. When people from different cultures meet in one place, each is influenced by this place and by others.
Culture is not about preserving a static version of our past traditions only for tradition. Culture is a reservoir of shared experiences, a toolbox that allows us to thrive and adapt.
Culture helps us to prosper in the future. We present our ways that define us and define our place even as we adapt, adopt new ways or even move to a new place.
This is the real reason why we teach our culture to our children. These are not just folk songs or crafts, they are people, places and our particular ways. These are important because they connect us to the past and the future and to where we are now.
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About Becky McCray
Becky launched Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share stories and ideas of building businesses and rural communities with other small businessmen. She and her husband have a small ranch and are long-time entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on topics related to small business and the rural world.
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