Voices of the Plains is a collaborative community project from the minds of
bARTer Collective, Nikki Pike, Sparky the Dog Records, Gregory Hill and Maureen Hearty.

Click on a town to see and hear the action


“Human life depends on the stories we tell.”
(Jack Zipes - The Cultural Evolution of Storytelling and Fairy Tales, 2012.)

Given the manner in which our state is popularly portrayed, first-time visitors can be surprised to learn that Colorado is half-prairie. Specifically, we're talking about the vast swath of flat, treeless, dry, windy, and sparsely populated land that people habitually dread when they drive eastward from Denver .

Of even greater surprise is that fact that, in spite of its appearance, this landscape is teeming with wildlife, wild weather, and wild stories.

Voices of the Plains is our attempt to collect some of the great -- and sometimes tall -- tales that float thru the prairie like dandelion fur. Following the examples of Allan Lomax and other musicologists, and with the cooperation of the bARTer Collective, we drove a mobile recording studio and several antique typewriters to four different locations scattered about the Colorado High Plains. We then tried to convince strangers to speak into a microphone, peck at a manual typewriter, or strum a guitar.

It’s not easy to walk into the back of a box truck and spontaneously spin a coherent tale. Nor is it easy to sit across from a hunt-and-peck transcriptionist at a manual typewriter in the middle of a Beet Festival and say something true and good. Easy or not, people were game. Give a person a sympathetic audience and amazing things can happen.

In her book Reclaiming Conversation, Sherry Turkle writes, “We live in a technological reality where we are always communicating and yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection…[B]athing ourselves in conversation with others who are actually present rather than connecting with everyone all the time through shimmering screens is where we will find both empathy for others and our own reflective self-awareness.”

Voices of the Plains taps into this human need for connection. By engaging people in face-to-face conversation, and by offering them the tactile experience of pressing the buttons on manual typewriters, we provide a place where people can be fully present and vulnerable, a place that welcomes unedited emotion.

In sharing this collection of authentic, spontaneous expression we hope to pass on the empathy and intimacy gained in our process. An understanding of the range of experiences that make up the people of the High Plains, as told by those people.
1-In fact, Denver is part of the prairie. Even though it's within sight of the Rockies, and even though the grass has been replaced by streets and buildings and football fields, the Queen City of the Plains is most decidedly part of that lee-side chunk of real estate that’s second only to eastern Florida when it comes to frequency and severity of thunderstorms.
2-Loveland, Joes, Sterling and Denver.

Thanks to all the folks who shared their tales.

Listen on your mobile phone: http://spts.us/votp

Support from Colorado Creative Industries Career Advancement Award.


Maureen Hearty