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Several months ago a friend-of-a-friend consultant offered to review bigthicketART.com and give feedback on my progress thus far. My skill level and limited internet access in Kountze, Texas made designing a website an arduous process, and I was proud of what I had created. Her much-awaited response was one sentence: “You have no brand.”
I responded as I usually do, a bit defensively. After I had time to gain perspective and consider her words, I realized the problem was a classic one: the consultant and I were not speaking the same language. Instead of feeling motivated by what I expected to be positive criticism, I was left with a bad feeling- like the icky, sinking feeling from wearing a girdle two sizes too small. I mentally argued that we were brand NEW. How can a person or company create a finalized presentation to the world before they have engaged with a single person in the community? I preferred to think of the term “brand” as an ever-evolving idea- a purposeful journey- not a static concept.
A “good brand” must go beyond painstaking nitpicking of font and the agony of perfecting arbitrary selection. While appeal is important, I believe an effective brand develops from positive intentions, a reliable and consistent message and a focus on clear goals. Of course, it helps to surround yourself with good energy and people who believe in you and your vision. Brand is a natural extension of who you are, perhaps with a bit of a wash and shine.
My takeaway from the consult was 1. I needed to better communicate my vision and perspective to a new consultant and 2. Perhaps the only way to provide consistency when first venturing into the dynamic world of social media is to view the concept of “brand” as synonymous with “voice.” Were our actions in line with those things that would make this adventure a success? Did we have a clear voice?
The goals of The Harrison Family Foundation and bigthicketART are to create authentic, productive relationships in the community, inspire art and artisans in the Big Thicket and beyond, to support scholarly research of the flora and fauna in the region, and to raise awareness of this big, beautiful forest. I want people to see it, feel it, hike it, paint it, photograph it, and be centered by it. I want people to let the forest and its inhabitants inspire them the way it and they have inspired me.
I have spent the last two years living in and exploring the Big Thicket while starting a family. I unplugged. This hiatus from the socialmediaphere has created a rare perspective on the advances in communication. I. Am. Stunned. And happy. And intimidated. And challenged. And excited because I do best when challenged. THFF and bigthicketART hope to utilize social media as one of the main avenues for achieving our goals. We want to share our intentions with others and attract like-minded people. Do you enjoy nature? Do you appreciate art? Do you want to experience the synergy of all good things? Hi, and welcome! Let’s enjoy this beautiful world together!
Speaking of good things- A big shout out to the fantastic Hard Bean Coffee in Lumberton (@Hardbean_LTX)! This place epitomizes what a community coffeehouse should be. For several months, I have traveled the 74-mile round trip into Beaumont in search of fast internet and a caffeine fix. Today, however, I stopped for gas and queried Google Maps for coffee shops near me. Eureka! Hard Bean Coffee!
There, I met several friendly people, enjoyed a seriously delicious cup of coffee or three, was inspired to write this article and, overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the family-friendly atmosphere. I even bought the painting featured in this blog. Apparently, the artist is a Senior Pastor at a local church. This is an example of seeing life unfold with a purpose.
In retrospect, I am thankful to the consultant. Her blunt personality helped me to clarify my voice, trust myself, and not get overly caught up in the rush of social media to force something that will develop naturally. I do detest girdles.
Also, thank you artist Nathan Keating at Parkway Life Church. The dominant colors where I live (some consider it the old “Hunters Thicket”) are purple and yellow. I like this painting because it reminds me of the purple backdrop of the late summer, uncut prairie-grass in our back field and the everpresent blackbirds that have become still in the thick Texas heat. The nice lady that helped me with my purchase called it “Blackbird,” so I have titled it such.
All good things.
Submission for Junior High and High School
Opens December 1, 2019-
Closes January 31, 2020
Over $12,000 in CASH and PRIZES Awarded
I was 24 pages into Geraldine Watson’s book, Reflections on the Neches: A Naturalist’s Odyssey along the Big Thicket’s Snow River, when I was motivated by both the book and the first beautiful weather of the year to visit the Geraldine Watson Rare Plant Preserve. The day became one of the most magical I have experienced in The Thicket.
In fact, within moments of arriving I had ideas of writing an article on the serenely beautiful flora and, given what I had gleaned of Mrs. Watson from her book, I was eager to learn about the dynamic woman responsible for it. My research yielded this January 2, 2018 article by Sophia Dembling: “How a Rare Native Plant Preserve Sustains One Texan Woman’s Legacy- The rise of an unlikely naturalist and fierce preservationist.” The article is well written and captures Geraldine Watson in the manner I might have. Why reinvent the wheel?
Dembling uses words such as “enchanting” and “a botanical wonderland” to describe what I saw and felt during my visit. It is a fool who would ever mistake whimsy for weakness because the preserve is a fairy forest complete with stone cottage built solely by Watson.
I plan to return to the Watson Preserve when I finish her book. I want to look upon her forest and cottage with a deeper understanding of who she was and what she fought so hard to protect- I have a feeling the experience will be even more fulfilling.
Visit the preserve! See if you, too, feel as though you have stepped into a Dr. Seuss book!
Geraldine Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve is located at 527 Co Rd 4777, Warren, TX 77664
Other readings on Geraldine Watson and her Rare Native Plant Preserve:
“Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve” by Le’Anne Alexander Jun 29, 2018
“Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve” – Main site
“Piney Woods Conservationist Devotes Life to Cause” by Jane McBride April 18, 2009
Funded by the Harrison Family Foundation, Big Thicket Art is offering a PAID summer internship position for a Big Thicket Reporter! Travel the Thicket, record your adventures and events, and create dynamic blog content for online publication.
If the idea of being a summer nature reporter gets you excited, submit your best Big Thicket blog article! Entry should:
1. be a minimum of 1000 and a maximum of 3000 words,
2. include a minimum of 5 pictures. At least 2 of the 5 required pictures or Infographics should be at a 1:1 ratio, compatible with Instagram, at a 300×300 size.
3. include 1 video clip between 30 seconds and 1 minute in length, and
4. Biography- Tell us who you are and include anything you think will demonstrate you.
Topic/Theme- Anything to do with the people, places, events, flora or fauna of the Big Thicket. Perhaps a blog about a visit to a Big Thicket trail or any of the amazing private conservation lands open to the public? Or maybe an interview of someone of import in the Big Thicket? As always, we define the Big Thicket as a geographical area in the following counties: Montgomery, San Jacinto, Polk, Jasper, Tyler, Hardin, Liberty, Newton, Orange and Sabine.
Ideal candidate should have a positive energy, be a self-starter, be kind to others and themselves and have impressive technology, writing and verbal skills. Candidate should also have a unique voice, a fun attitude and a natural curiosity for people and nature. You will be an ambassador for The Harrison Family Foundation.
Submissions are accepted starting May 1, 2019. Deadline for submission is June 3, 2019. Top 3 submissions will be invited to interview. Winner to receive an iPhone XR.
Our best advice is for the entrant to figure out what type of artist/journalist he/she wants to be. Photojournalist? Photographer, writer, podcast personality, etc.? – We want to help cultivate that. So, while there is a writing component, we are going to allow the entrant to propose the type of journalist they wish to be and we will produce that segment. Be Creative. Be You.
*You must live in OR attend high school in the following counties: Montgomery, San Jacinto, Polk, Jasper, Tyler, Hardin, Liberty, Newton, Orange or Sabine. Must be at least 16 years old, have transportation, and parent/guardian authorization.
The Summer Reporter Intern is a part-time, contract position. Intern will be paid per submission with a weekly submission requirement of 1 story with video and picture requirements.
Instructions for Required Material:
Google Drive (Google Docs, Sheets, Photos) is a versatile, intuitive and FREE document creator/editor- we use it and you will need to know how to as well. To have access to the Google Drive, you must register for a Google Account. TIPS: For more on how to use Google Drive, search YouTube for tutorials. You will also want to install Google Drive, Google Photos and Google Docs on your mobile device. This is a free service. Remember, you must make certain to share your documents in Google. Don’t worry if you have trouble. When you send us the link, we can request permission. You can query YouTube for how to share a Google Doc for further assistance.
Make certain to include a personal biography that tells us who you are. Again, be creative. Biography video from YouTube? Yes, if you feel it. You can use this space to copy and paste a biography and/or you can include a link to a Google Doc or YouTube Video.
Video clip (# 3 above):
– Upload your video to your private YouTube account and copy and paste the link to the submission form where indicated.
–Upload your pictures to Google Photos and copy and paste the Shared Folder link where indicated. You will need to place your pictures in a SHARED folder- Watch: https://www.youtube.com/
*As an alternative to these instructions, you can embed your required photos and videos in the Google Docs document your are required to link. If you choose this option, we do not expect your layout to be print ready. However, do the best you can.
Finalists will be required to submit signed parental consent (if under the age of 18), the original video files and print quality photo files. Finalists will be provided with submissions details in the notification email.
PLEASE check your email SPAM folder for correspondence from TheHarrisonFamilyFoundation@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org