So I admit it...I'm apprehensive...I'm stressed...But I'm excited.
Nine years ago Utah Pioneer Heritage Arts came into being. We (Shawnda Bishop of Clog America and Worldwide Association of Performing Artists and myself) knew only that we wanted to preserve, celebrate, and pass on our American heritage in a way similar to what we had experienced as we represented the United States of America in folk festivals in Europe and Mexico. Those areas have literally hundreds of folk festivals every year. You can count those in the United States on two hands with fingers left over.
Shawnda and I wanted to counteract that evident neglect of our folk culture somehow. But...how?
Because the U.S. folk culture is so large and diverse, we carved out one area of that folk culture to focus on: Utah. But even Utah's folk culture includes the nine sovereign nations of indigenous peoples, the Mormon pioneers, and the multitude of cultures that followed, So we really didn't limit ourselves ethnically or culturally, just geographically. Our common geography binds us together and gives us shared challenges. Utah was the area all other European immigrants passed over on their way to the West Coast, because Utah was such a difficult environment for agriculture.
We found that we couldn't even limit ourselves to the 1847-1869 classical pioneering era - prior to the arrival of the railroad. Pioneering experiences continued well into the 1930s when Boulder Utah was finally connected to the rest of the state with a graded road, and stopped receiving mail by mule.
We are doing that, and drawing strength and direction from the stories of our pioneering ancestors as we face our challenges. We're launching a new website, this blog ("The Passion of the Pioneer Experience"), a mobile app called "Story Road Utah", a new program tentatively called "Adopt A Story", new funding mechanisms, and a new way of thinking about pioneering.
If you have challenges, perhaps our struggles can illuminate your way, too.
Here's to the journey, the struggle, and lessons learned...the passion of the pioneer experience!
P.S. Below is a preview of "A Town Is Gonna Rise" by Sam Payne, about the Tropic Ditch, which made the town of Tropic possible, and which diverted much of the flow of the upper East Fork of the Sevier River from the Great Basin drainage to the Colorado River drainage!