What do we really mean when we talk about Columbus culture?

I mention culture here a lot, but because of space constraints I never really get to dig into it as a concept. If public response is any indication, about 20 percent of you are missing the point or are simply exhausted from searching for parking in the Short North, so let’s unpack culture directly for once.

At its base, culture exists wherever living things exist: human beings, octopi, bacteria. It is a natural result of natural activity. Being human beings, we’ve redefined that word many times over as suits our needs. That’s OK, since language is a part of culture, and as societies evolve, so should their words. I like the definition that we’ve more or less arrived at in the past century, which roughly goes something like this: Culture is the values, arts, customs and institutions of a particular people, place or situation. It’s why your soulless job gets to send you memos every week about your “workplace culture” even though no one in the office can run a single Rakim lyric.

Culture can be created intentionally, but in the event that no one wants to open an artist enclave in your town, your town will take up the reins regardless. All artists are doing is steering culture that was going to happen anyway, so the first thing we should all be doing is stripping away the notion that culture consists of art galleries and symphonies. Those things are part of a culture, but no one lives in the Ohio Theatre.

Continue reading on Columbus Alive.