This is my why

It’s hard to wait for the sun to go down when you are setting up your first public art projection. In Minneapolis on June 19, the sun sets at 9:03pm. But at 9:03 there was still so much ambient light in the sky that I could barely make out an image on the wall.

At 9:10, Lance from Channel 5 news showed up with a camera and I wished I could will the earth to spin just a little bit faster away from the sun.

9:30 is the sweet spot. That deep blue sky, just before it goes night-time black, and the images really start to look good.

A few friends stopped by. A member of the church. Once Lance had gotten his footage and drove away, I went back on the roof to adjust a few things. When I came down again, there was one black man standing on the sidewalk looking at the images and I said hello.

I’m not going to remember the exact words, but the conversation went something like this:

“How’s it going?”

“Have you seen this?”

“I did this.”

“I was at my mom’s watching the news and I saw them talking about it. I said to her, ‘I gotta go see that.’”

His name was Ian. We did an elbow bump. COVID, you know.

“I’m going to bring my mom back to see this another night.”

Ian is 43. He teaches special ed at a local middle school.

We talked about George Floyd. We talked about the protests. We talked about the new art that had cropped up all around town.

Ian had lived in the Twin Cities for a long time—maybe his whole life—I can’t remember now. But he said something like this: “They say a house doesn’t become a home until you decorate it. For the first time, I feel like this is my home.”

We stood our six feet apart, silently watching the images scroll by above us. After a while, Ian looked at me and said, “I feel like I can hear the streets talking.”

Ian thanked me and I thanked him back. One of those brief, rich encounters that makes life better. We did another elbow bump as Ian headed home and I told him I hoped I would get to meet his mom when he brought her back.

The world is big and loud and ugly. But the world is also small and quiet and beautiful. Maybe we can’t change every thing every day. But we can continue to connect and talk. We can learn to mourn and celebrate and imagine new possibilities together. We can take time to see the humanity all around us.

This is my why.

**If you are in Minneapolis, come check out our projection of stories and images from 38th and Chicago in the days following the death of George Floyd. We are projecting on the north wall of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church at 24th and Chicago in Minneapolis every night through June 28 (weather permitting). Projection starts at 9pm. It starts looking good about 9:20 and by 10:30 we shut it down.

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