A few weeks ago, I embarked on a seven day journey throughout Nebraska with four other journalists from Hear Nebraska. We visited nine communities in all over the span of ten days (I was there for the first seven). We spent our days driving, hanging posters, and telling stories about each of the communities we visited. We talked to business owners, musicians, farmers, and artists about what they love about Nebraska, and their respective towns and cities. My favorite question that we asked almost everyone was, “What does ‘the good life’ meant to you?” It means a lot of things to different people, but nearly everyone we talked to said they find it in Nebraska.
We did all if this in preparation for the epic Good Living Tour, which will span nine cities and towns throughout Nebraska later this month. Each show is free, all ages, and will feature three Nebraska bands — some from Omaha and Lincoln, and some from greater Nebraska. It’s an opportunity to connect the state to local music, and showcase the music culture that exists outside of Nebraska’s typical music and cultural hubs in Omaha and Lincoln. Our group sought out stories in each of these communities that will run later this month during the tour on hearnebraska.org.
For my part, I helped shoot and edit videos that showcase each community we visited. We talked to people who call each place home for a reason. Sometimes it was because they wanted to raise their kids in a rural community or because they liked being close to their families, but for most people it was because of the endless opportunities to do what you want in smaller communities. So many of the people we talked to brought something they love — whether it was a Portland-style coffee shop, a record store, a theater, or a a love for skateboarding — to communities that are hungry for culture and teeming with opportunities for doers and go-getters.
Right now, my answer to anyone who asks, “Weren’t you just in Western Nebraska or something? How was that?” is, “It was a blast, but it was one of the most intense work weeks of my life.” And that’s because it was a crap-ton of work. We spent nearly all of our time working either in the field, heads down in coffee shops and hotel rooms, and (more often than not) cramped in the back seat of our car. But it was also a hell of a lot of fun. I saw parts of Nebraska I’d never seen. We watched swing dancers in an old country barn, climbed waterfalls, saw Chimney Rock, and experienced beautiful Nebraska scenery. The experience completely changed my perspective on small town living, and gave me more appreciation for the state I’ve lived in for 23 years. On top of it all, I got to combine my two favorite thing in the world: traveling and telling stories with my camera. All while hanging out with the best crew ever.
Photos from my seven-day stint with the Good Living Tour team are below. You can see photos from Chris and Nickolai, and read more about the Good Living Tour on Hear Nebraska.