Someone recently told me they have never lived in a place where they have met so many writers as they have here in Baton Rouge. As a writer, having lived here the last 17 years, perhaps that was something I never noticed. That was just my “circle”. I never realized there was a difference in the number of writers here versus anywhere else.
But, if that really is true, I can see why. I think it’s because there is something about this small (trying to be big) city that brings out the writer in people. We have an abundance of both amazing, powerful people and unashamedly horrible ones. We are a city/state that is always last in everything except for the things you want to be last in, and in those things we are first. We are a place built upon old money, corrupt politics, judgement, and tradition. There is no end to the story, ever, you can dig forever and probably never get to the bottom of the truth even if you change your opinions 50 times along the way. And what you would believe is a safe approach to take could be the most controversially received by the public eye.
In fact, it is exactly that aspect of the truth of this city that has kindled my passion for being actively involved in change, while simultaneously stepping out of the professional writing circuit. I sat at many tables with many leaders, hearing from their mouths and the mouths of supporters the wonderful progress, the true good, the advancement that their programs are bringing to our communities, only to then speak to those these programs are supposedly “helping”, to speak to the workers, to get an inside look, and realize that there is not as much positively happening behind the scenes as I was led to believe.
There is no doubt in my mind that being a writer in this city is what has brought me where I am today. Coupled with working in the non-profit sector, I have been granted a look into the inner workings of our city that goes beyond the media representations (even the media that I myself have contributed to). I have been plunged beneath the surface, and there are no misgivings about the good and the bad. And I, for one, am proud that there are so many willing to share the stories and to keep digging.
One thing that I will be sharing in upcoming posts are articles that I have written on certain topics (school choice, government and non-profit partnerships, non-profit activities, the violence reduction strategy, etc.) and give an opinion I was not allowed to share at the time those articles were published. The opinion that isn’t as trustful of these supposedly “life changing” programs in our city. Because there is never just one side, and it was seeing both sides that has led me where I am today.
I truly hope others can see those sides as well. I believe once we get to that place, we can move beyond the agenda and bias, get past the ignorant, hate-filled comment sections, and move forward together for the betterment of our community.