Be Here: Main Street not only shares rich stories about America’s towns and waterways but also connects people, businesses, communities, and cultural institutions through storytelling.
Part of the MuseWeb Foundation’s larger Be Here initiative, Be Here: Main Street is a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and its Museum on Main Street program, which brings Smithsonian traveling exhibitions to small towns across the United States and its territories.
MuseWeb and its partners at the Museum on Main Street program believe that everyone has a story that’s worth sharing—whether that story is about a cherished waterway, a local landmark or business, a popular park, an engaging museum, a little-known cultural site, or a beloved natural resource. These rarely heard stories are likely to capture a “history” of small-town America based on experience, knowledge, and memory rather than simple dates and facts. In this way, the published stories offer people a rare and authentic glimpse into the history, traditions, and culture of a community.
One story-collecting effort focuses on water–America’s lakes, rivers, streams, etc. The theme coincides with the current Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition Water/Ways, which is now on view in several states. The pilot program will be working with communities specifically in Minnesota. Other previously collected stories include those about food traditions, local sports, work history, immigration and journeys, and stories about life in America’s small towns.
The core goal of the Be Here: Main Street initiative is to change the narrative about small-town America.
We hope to do that by:
- Gathering rich and diverse stories about places and people in small-town America
- Exposing more audiences to stories that have been gathered
- Teaching people in local partner communities to record, collect, and publish their own stories
- Developing ideas for communities to physically display or showcase stories in their communities
- Bringing people together through storytelling and the exchange of ideas about community
- Helping local organizations think about how to incorporate stories in their daily workflows