|Nebraska stories presented Sunday|
|October 29, 2015 Jerry Purvis|
This Sunday, Nov. 1, the Historic Midwest Theater in downtown Scottsbluff is hosting a 830 mile long conversation, a long hello to and from Nebraska. Stuart Chittenden of Omaha will tell the stories gathered about people he encountered during an RV trip across the state in search of culture, conversation and community.
Chittenden said the idea came some 30 years ago when, as a teenager, he was reading John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charlie” in his native Canterbury, England.
“It was something that captured my imagination, that idea of traveling the fabled American roadway,” he said. “I was studying contemporary American history about that time in school.”
With that vision in mind, Chittenden later headed to America. While in New York, he married a woman from Omaha and they headed west.
It was the journey through Nebraska’s landscape and its history in the tradition of earlier storytellers, from Alexis de Tocqueville to Charles Kuralt.
Chittenden said he knew little about his adopted state, but sought meaning in his own life and in the lives of others.
“I wanted to share those narratives that define and unite us,” Chittenden said. “It will celebrate our culture and how we each contribute to it, evoking a place and its people, connecting us to Nebraskans, their stories and their lives.”
Along the way, he heard tales of joy and despair, courage and disappointment, love and loss, all the threads that make up the fabric of our Nebraska experience.
In Alliance, Chittenden heard from a local about her encounter with Charles Manson. He learned about the isolation and the community of neighbors from a ranching couple along Highway 27 south of Gordon in the Nebraska Sandhills. In Broken Bow, he learned from a World War II veteran about the horrors of war. In Chadron, he experienced how the owner of a coffee shop and pub creates community among locals and the college crowd.
A Hastings resident simply said “Everyone has a voice.” That’s what “Nebraska 830: Traveling Through Conversations into Community” is all about.
“With all our differences, I still believe the simple, but apparently difficult, act of conversation can bestow upon us some social good,” he said. “I wanted to experience that.”
The public is invited to this free event on Sunday, Nov. 1 from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. at the Midwest Theater in Scottsbluff.