GREENSBURG, Kan. – Even as larger news was breaking in our state with the assassination of Wichita abortion-provider Dr. George Tiller, the Greensburg Rebirth project continues to delve deeper into how the community is rebuilding.
For the past two weeks, 19 members of the project, including Wichita State University’s Les Anderson, photographer-extraordinaire and co-owner of Web-company Identis LLC Cort Anderson and myself, have been living in the Greensburg United Methodist Church.
We have been going out into the community and finding the stories that no other media outlet has told.
There are so many stories of people struggling to overcome the absolute destruction of their lives following the May 4, 2007 E-F5 tornado that ripped Greensburg apart.
Not all the stories are positive as there is some definite resistance to going green and being so environmentally friendly. Some people just want their lives back. They don’t want to do anything fancy.
Of course, some people truly believe being green is the wave of the future and the only way to rebuild their community in a sustainable fashion.
Every rural community is looking for a gimmick from which to garner attention and promote what the town has to offer.
How perfect does going green work with living in town with the name of Greensburg?
Regardless of where one falls on the subject, it creates several interesting stories lines, which is the point of the project.
One person did a story on a gentleman who builds headstones for unmarked graves in the cemetery, and someone else did a piece on how the local newspaper is handling the entire situation.
But those stories just scratch the surface. To get a full grasp of what goes on, go to www.greensbirthrebirth.com.
I was able to participate in this year’s project, which is in its second year, as a working professional.
I took my vacation time to come out here and basically volunteer to help with technical issues, producing radio pieces and doing some photography and writing work.
If one of the students or the other two professionals, Cort Anderson and Les Anderson, needed something, I was there for them.
I was lucky enough to be able to do the same thing last year, and I loved it.
The people here are amazing, and if I lived under different circumstances and didn’t already have certain aspirations in motion, I would move out here and build my life.
The resiliency found in Greensburg perfectly represents how rural Kansas pulls together and overcomes, and that is why I love living in this state in a small town.
Coming back from a year ago was very emotional for me. Just pulling into town it felt like everything was different. It just felt like there were more people in town.
Couple my personal observations with the emotions people in town are still displaying and it is nearly overwhelming.
On more than one occasion I nearly have been brought to tears.
Working with the project members has been great though. The energy they bring is exhilarating.
In my current position, I don’t get to work around others who are as passionate about journalism as I am, but here everyone I’m working with is talented and burns with a fire that is all about journalism. I love it.
My time with the project started May 26 and it ended today. The project will be wrapping up Friday until next year, of which I hope to be a part.
Throughout the entire two weeks I was in Greensburg, I blogged and Twittered about my experiences.
Both are jam-packed with my experiences and observations while in rebuilding, western-Kansas town, and they give a much better picture of what I have went through while here than I can convey in this brief article.
Again, I love this town and the project that Cort Anderson and Les Anderson have developed.
I am honored to work with them, and I look forward to continuing to work with the project for as long as it exists.