Having spent my entire childhood and adolescence in a sweet little town on the northeast side of the Texas Panhandle named Pampa, I feel fairly confident in saying that I’m hugely familiar with it. Despite it being the second largest town in the Texas Panhandle, it still has that small-town, rural feel. And yes, cowboys and ranchers are alive and well. With its western style and large dependence on the land and the animals raised on it, I did not find it hard to see one of the 12 Commonwealth Assets, Wildlife and the Natural World, present in my community. Nevertheless, just a drive on the outskirts of town will provide you with glimpses of windmills that create seas of white and grey during the day and an abundance of red lights at night, exemplifying Renewable Energy. That combined with the Soil and Mineral Cycle, including the fossil fuels running underneath all the tilled soil, and you’ve got my town. I mean, c’mon, we’ve even got a billboard just outside of town with the phrase, “Where the oil flows, cotton grows, and the wind blows.” That is Pampa.
At least, that’s about the bulk of what I’d always seen. However, when Darryl asked me to lead a group focused on Arts and Culture at our intern retreat, I was suddenly faced with a conundrum. Arts and Culture? In little ol’ Pampa, ‘Merica? WHAT? I found myself struggling to think of any examples unique to Pampa. Sure, there is band and choir and arts and theater arts in school, and there are even ballet classes. Yet, I couldn’t think of more profound examples. So I took a drive, and suddenly the examples started flooding in. Have you ever heard of Chautauqua? It is a fun little fair held at Central Park here every year on Labor Day. The whole town shows up to enjoy music, good food, arts and crafts, and other activities. How about Woody Guthrie? He’s the songwriter who wrote the song “This Land is Your Land” and he’s from my hometown. We’ve got a museum for him and just a drive down the main street through Pampa, Hobart Street, will let you see the giant music notes that, if played, would actually play “This Land is Your Land.” As I began truly noticing the murals and statues, like the bald eagle on the Sears building or the green lizard in Central Park, and thinking about rituals and traditions like our “The Riot” football t-shirts, it became clear: every community truly has these 12 Commonwealth Assets.