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  • There is something I thought I heard Jonathan say. I thought he said it, but it wasn't he. Someone said" small and deep"in reference to what we should wish for ourselves moving forward in media. I know who it was: a soft spoken guy working for public radio. I suspect not many people heard him. He said it at the end of his talk after the noise had already begun. But I heard it. Cowbird is small and deep. That is why I love it. Depth requires a commitment to a longer view, a willingness to slow to go deep. Is 16,000 cowbirders small? In this context - yes. It is small enough to be intentional. It is small enough to divide naturally into audiences . Cowbird is a quiet place. It is quiet enough to go deep.

    Someone wrote recently about Cowbirders being outsiders. Well ok I can see that if Inside is a self obsessed narrow pyramid we call by turns a society, an economy, or success. That Inside I want to live outside of but I don't think that inside needs to be that way. All summer I have lived in the expansive world of vacation where details can often be put off for another day, where I do not have to get dressed all day if I don't want to. I have worked. I planted my garden, cleaned out closets, wrote almost every day, took pictures, and much more. I stretched myself. I studied. I read fiction and non. That existence is one kind of being outside but one that has it's own set of limitations. For starters, I did not get paid.

    I went inside last week and got a big reminder about how short sighted the inside can be; how afraid of goals larger than keeping the pecking order locked in place even in the face of inevitable and necessary change. I don't think that that inside is the way Inside needs to be. I think it is counterproductive to have it be that way. We need large creative vision and collective flexibility moving forward in 2012 and calcified pecking orders do not breed that. We need to be able to look at the existing order and ask the hard questions. We need to look honestly at what we are doing well and what we are not doing at all or badly. More importantly we need to ask what needs to be done and pull together to do it. Much of the time this means moving forward without a clear view of where we are going but doing it because someone we trust believes in it enough to want to try to make it work for the right reasons. Move small. Move deep. Move forward.

    So here's to keeping Cowbird honest where I can love something because it is compelling, because it strengthens me, touches me, makes me smile or laugh, make me cry, supports me, questions me, awakens me, holds me or releases me. Sometimes the grammar is imperfect. Sometimes the format is rough, and unpolished. I am not asked to grade it. I am asked to love it. Sometimes it is not quite a story yet, but if it moves me I love it, and isn't that the point. Move small. Move deep. Move forward.

    If my years on this planet have taught me anything it is that creativity grows in a place of support and encouragement and by extension, so does life. Since I have joined Cowbird I sometimes go back and polish a story even after the love-fest has past because I want it to be the best it can be, not because anyone more will see it but because I owe it to myself and the group to do the best I can sight unseen. Synchronistically in that moment I might start to see its potential for a bigger story or a bigger project. Move small. Move deep. Move forward.

    I have written all of my life but now - I Write. I have had to write outside the pyramid because I never had the strength of my self. My audience gives me that. this summer I spoke my words in public for the second time. The first time was 40 years ago. Cowbird has been a vehicle for my trusting my voice. Move small. Move deep. Move forward.

    I do not often know when I start out writing or taking pictures what the product will be but having a supportive audience helps that process. We, the human tribe, need all of the creative process we can get at this point in time and anything that encourages us is a very good thing. Do we begin to care a little about someone through their stories? I do. I think that is a good thing. Do I love a story for different reasons on different days? Doesn't everybody? Move small. Move deep. Move forward.
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