James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

26: Origin Story

Two years ago, I used the last of my paycheck to rent a U-Haul and called C’ne to tell her that we were going to make Chicago our new home that night. Two years ago, with a rainy night on the Eisenhower expressway, we were crying and clutching our nerves as we saw the skyline peek from around the corner of the Ashland exit, partially unsure about what we were going to do with our lives outside of our parents’ home, terrified of the future but antsy to make it happen. June 1st was our two year Chicagoversary.

Everyone has an origin story, a tale that describes the turning point when it was time to make action on something you’ve been wanting to do. It reminds me of this article that Jen Hewett shared with me about the moment “when that switch flips” in your head. On June 1st of this year, C’ne and I sat on the floor of our apartment, stared at the celling, and began to chat about what it was that made up our origin story two years ago. For us, we had been coming out to Chicago every weekend by train to either go to art events, work at our studio, or investigate neighborhoods we found interesting–we spent enough time there, we figured we’d make it our home. For the longest we thought that our decision to move here was “off-the-cuff,” but our time reflecting proved us wrong. It was easy to mark a decision as “off-the-cuff” but in reality it hasn’t been investigated far enough to figure out why.

The streets around here are plentiful with U-Hauls–the sidewalks full of bags, boxes, and memories. New neighbors are funneling in and out, packing away and moving in their own stories and baggage. Since a lot of you live in a variety of places, I’m curious to what your origin story is? What brought you into your current city? What kind of decisions did you make to land where you are? What were the circumstances? Don’t be shy, hit reply.

Have a great Monday and see you next week,

-James

What did I find interesting this week?

1) The Beach: Leah Reich has been doing a compelling series of essays every Wednesday. This one is about an experience she faced as a child. Very great read.

2) We Have Work to Do: #yesallwomen and the Web: Sara Wachter-Boettcher gives her thoughts about the #yesallwomen conversation and why it’s important to talk about these things in the field of design and technology.

3) An Interview with Maya Angelou at The Black Scholar (1977): In honor of the late Maya Angelou, here was an important interview she had with The Black Scholar back in 1977 where the memorable phrase “life loves the liver of it” was born. Definitely worth the free JStor account.

4) The Great Discontent: Paul Octavious: I was excited to see a long form interview of Paul–incredible photography work with a great origin story of his own, and Chicago-based too!

5) Body Language by Wondersbook Social Physics: I find unspoken communication so very interesting so this photographic chart on certain types of body language grabbed my interest.

James T. Green