1 PM, Wildcat Chamber
Over 40 years ago Richardson began returning, again and again to Cuba, the small Kansas town close to the farm where he grew up. Originally intended as a documentary of fading small town life on the Great Plains where many towns have died, Richardson was surprised — and then heartened — by the great spirit of community that kept the town alive and vibrant with civic life. With each succeeding year the community taught him how people find meaning in their shared lives — and build a spirit of civic involvement that they pass on, generation to generation.
From Jim Richardson:
Ace community organizer Jeannine Kopsa in Cuba (Kansas) explained to me the difference between “town” and “community. She said it this way: “Cuba is a town of 300 but a community of 700. We have people who live within the city limits but who do not take part in community life. And we have several hundred more who do not live here in the town of Cuba, but who make Cuba the center of their activities and think of themselves as being part of Cuba.”
Her revelation was, for me, profound because it opened so many windows of understanding about how communities form, what people get out of community life, and how people create shared meaning out of their shared activities. From that point on I no longer thought of myself as documenting the death of a small town, but the ongoing life of a self-made community. For them the city limits were not the boundaries.
Jim Richardson is a photojournalist, writer and educator devoted to environmental and resource issues. From his background as an internationally recognized social documentary photographer of rural life, Richardson has developed a wide ranging body of work covering water and food issues, the impacts of growth and development on human habitat, and complex cultural stories of our rich human heritage.