I began wandering this country in 2003 when I hopped an Amtrak from Virginia to Arizona. I stared out the large picture windows as I barrelled across the southern states and peeked into hundreds of backyards and main streets as we passed through. I witnessed a vast array of socioeconomic situations from the windows of trains, busses, and cars in the decades that followed as I zigged and zagged my way across this country. Gathering stories and sipping espresso at hundreds of coffee shops along the way. I’m always fascinated by the decaying Main Streets scattered throughout this country, the victims of Walmart, Amazon, and big-box stores sucking the very heart and soul out of every single Main Street.
In May of 2021, I decided to hop in my car and drive from South Carolina to the Rockies. As I hit Tennessee, I turned on Hiding in Plain Sight by Sara Kendzior. I looked out my windows and was surrounded by the political and economic destruction she wrote about. I camped along the way and chose to stay in La Junta, Colorado, to miss a snowstorm in the mountains for a few days. As I wandered the small town, cautiously opening up from the pandemic, I became mesmerized by the windows of empty or deteriorating businesses on the main streets of La Junta. I could see, feel and sometimes read the story in every storefront window. The town had so much potential, but decades of decline capped off with a pandemic left a skeleton of lost prosperity in its wake.
Each town is a skeleton of what was. So much has been lost these past few years, yet so many living here fully support the very politicians who planned and profited from each town’s demise.
Which collapse crushed the town’s soul? Which recession pushed the youth out of the town forever? What tragedy sucked the breath of life from the tiny businesses that once made these streets vibrant? Or was it simply a slow suffocation of hope and possibility?
The Good Bones is a visual ethnographic project documenting the decaying Main Streets around America. The project takes a comprehensive look at how the Main Streets of this country slowly bled out over the past decades and explores the community impact of such decay. The project also explores alternative economic modalities and how we, as a collective, can take the “Good Bones” of these once-thriving towns and find solutions that empower individuals living within these communities to restore vibrancy to their Main Streets.
The main visual focus will be the actual bones of the towns, the storefronts, the sidewalks, the roads— the infrastructure built in the 1940s and 50s that helped local communities establish sustainable economies that were completely local. The human elements in this project will be the actual stories of individuals interviewed in each town and conversations overheard while spending time in the community.
While some images of people will be included, the only pictures of faces and human interaction will come from a place of hope and joy. With a topic as dense as the economic decay of small-town America, the expected visualizations of humans would be one of struggle, despair, or hopelessness. And, while those images have their value in the proper context, my intention is to portray the human spirit living amongst this decay as one of quiet hope, resilience, and optimism. Project participants will have the opportunity to share their struggles through words and stories if they so choose. Those stories will create a framework for the theories and historical data that I will gather from each town to create a more cohesive picture of what was lost and what could be created using these Good Bones.
The Good Bones is a crowdfunded project using NFT sales on Ethereum blockchain. Collectors may support the project by collecting limited edition NFTs, tokenized access, producer NFT incentives and more. The final product will be in book format along with physical/NFT hybrid gallery exhibits upon completion. Please scroll down to see additional collector perks!
2021 Q3 / Q4
- Document two towns’ Main Street areas in Arizona and Colorado.
- Fundraise with the first collection through OpenSea 4/4 Editions from La Junta with one or two special editions on Foundation.
- Publish two additional collections for crowdfunding on OpenSea and Foundation.
2022 Q1 / Q2
- Document four more towns and conduct interviews with residents about the transition the towns have undergone over the past several decades.
- Purchase a small recreational vehicle for extended documentation over the summer of 2022 and throughout the remainder of 2022 and 2023.
- Fund extended documentation for the summer of 2022 using crowdfunding from existing NFT sales, new collection drops and special tokenized NFT sales for ownership and producer roles for the end product.
- Begin extended documentation for the summer of 2022 with the target of spending one week in each town creating images and gathering stories and historical economic data on each town I visit. Target locations will be the midwest, the north east and the south. I hope to document at least six to eight towns during this time frame.
2022 Q3 / Q4
- Wrap the summer documentation and begin post-production on the artwork.
- Transcribe the interviews and organize all of the data for the written portion of the project.
- Launch collections from each town in 4/4 editions on multiple NFT platforms on the Ethereum blockchain.
- Heavy promotion of the project through interviews, press releases, Twitter and podcasts.
- Begin the process of compiling, writing, editing, and placing all of the written content into a formal book structure.
- Conduct an extensive visual edit that cohesively supports the written portion of the project with my mentors and professional documentary colleagues.
- Q3 2023 Crowdfunding push through unique producer NFTs and limited edition print+NFT sales. Funds will be used to produce a book of the entire project.
- Q1 – Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase through NFTs and any included book bundles will be shipped to those NFT holders.
- Q2 – Book will be available for sales through NFTs and in traditional bookstores using an agent or publishing house for limited print runs.
- All NFT holders (primary and secondary sales) will have special access to a private Discord channel for The Good Bones with direct access to me during the entire project lifespan. The access link will be located in the image’s metadata under the description section.
- All NFT primary collectors may choose to have their names or pseudonyms listed under the Supporters section at the back of each published version of the final project.
- Special NFTs for access, Producer attributions, and events will be released as the project evolves.
- Freshly minted pieces will be quietly released to The Good Bones Collectors Discord channel before announced to the general public.
- More perks to come as the project evolves.