Jonathon Engelien


Dear Wisconsin Rapids

Dear Rapids,

Should I care about you?  The thought occurred to me that I didn’t have to.  I mean, I left you years ago and moved away.  But, however long I remain away from you, I’m still psychologically tied to you in more ways than I can ever imagine.  And now I’m trying to figure out exactly who you are.


I grew up to you, and only you, but I feel like I still don’t know you.  Growing up felt bleak, that we were living past your golden age, as if in the shadow of your glory days.  Perhaps you’d be appalled that I felt this way.  Maybe that’s fair, but I left you didn’t I?   Your streets are lined with ruins of old ages, where at once you seemed to thrive and prosper.  And then in contrast,  while I grew up, the only excitement seemed to come from the development of Walmart.


I suppose everyone goes through this hometown angst while they grow up, move away, and then come back.  We all find that our hometowns will always be a part of us, but I want to start fresh.  I want to reimagine who you are, and work to rebuild your culture and identity.   


I want to work to shed the weight that I felt while growing up in your streets, the weight of needing to leave and move out.  I want to understand why I felt so damaged by you, and hurt that you didn’t have opportunity for me.  


I’m intrigued by you.  You’re so much more than an aged paper mill town.  You’re a place where real people develop lives and experiences, some for good, but also for bad.  I want to care about you, I do care about you, and I want other people to feel the same way.  Most importantly Rapids, I want to engage in your future.


Please be kind to me as I figure you out.  I’m excited for the road ahead.

Jonathon Engelien



(I was encourage and thought-provoked by the responses to this post and made another post here)

Be sure to check out the rest of my artist website as well as my project Norde Tribe - a Northern narrative and critical experience to become more human in our digital world.