Here's my call to arms -- or rather, strangeness -- for the citizens of Salem, Oregon. Also for those anywhere in the world who enjoy tasting life with more than a little strange sprinkled on top.
When I read the hot-off-my-laptop version of this to my wife, she said "It's got a lot of energy." Ah, a great review! That's exactly how I felt about what I'd written.
Strangeness touches me deeply. Like I say, the most interesting people I've known have been compellingly strange. Also, the people I've loved the most, notably my wonderfully strange mother.
I want to love Salem with the same sort of passion. If it grows stranger, someday I will.
Strange Up Salem! You know you want it.
At the risk of sounding like a phone sex line... I know what you want. You’re hungry for it. You’re hot for it. You’ve gotten tantalizing glimpses of what you lust for, but it’s been frustratingly out of reach.
What I’m talking about is a stranger Salem. Meaning, a city with sights, sounds, people, places, and other delights that make us go ooh, ah, and give me more rather than ho-hum, so lame.
Through this blog and other ways, I’m out to Strange Up Salem. In the very best sense of “strange.” Our city can be out of the ordinary -- creative, passionate, energetic, artistic, forward looking, individualistic, vibrant, soul-satisfying.
We no longer need to accept Salem being the blandburger stuck between the spicy buns of Portland and Eugene. This town can be excitingly meaty (or tofu’y; I’m a vegetarian) in its own sensuously special ways.
How will this happen? What will speed up the evolution of Salem into the place we long for it to be?
Us. You and me. Everybody.
If our marvelously unique President were to offer his advice, I imagine him saying, “You are the strange that you’ve been waiting for.” We are the people who are going to Strange Up Salem.
Not outside businesses, developers, politicians, artists, or creative class immigrants. Us. To adapt another well-known self-improvement phrase, we need a city-wide mantra: “Every day, in every way, I’m getting stranger and stranger.”
At one point in my life I worried about being considered strange. Now, I consider it a compliment. The most interesting people I’ve known, the most fascinating places I’ve been to, the most unforgettable experiences I’ve had -- they’ve all been compellingly strange.
This is why I feel qualified to preach a Strange Up Salem gospel: I’m strange, and I adore strange.
So much so, I've come to see strangeness as resting at the heart of many fascinating areas of human understanding that I love to learn about: neuroscience, philosophy, spirituality, land use, politics, physics, cosmology, psychology, artistry.
I’m looking forward to exploring the twists and turns, boundaries, and qualities of strangeness on this blog. Often I'll link posts here with my other blogs, HinesSight (more personal/political) and Church of the Churchless (more philosophical/spiritual).
I hope you'll be a part of this exploration.
Strange Up Salem should be a communal happening, a venture into uncharted territory where we all stand on the border between who each of us is now, and what our city is now, and say Onward, into strangeness as we boldly take creative steps into the unknown.
Which is another way of saying, I have no idea. Of exactly where Strange Up Salem is going. Of precisely how Salem should change for it to be the city we long for. Of what I’m going to write after I type these words.
And that’s a good thing. Strangeness blossoms in the fertile soil of openness. When we’re absolutely certain, the strangling Boring Weed doesn’t allow ooh and ah fruit to ripen.
Help fertilize Strange Up Salem.
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Most importantly: be strange.