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My Muses Card Shop's Community Conversations with Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils

My Muses Card Shop's Community Conversations with Carrboro Mayor Damon Seils

In September of 2023, My Muses Card Shop had the pleasure of interviewing Carrboro's Mayor, Damon Seils, and discussed how art makes a more rich and vibrant community. Below is a transcript of our conversation for your convenience.

In September of 2023, My Muses Card Shop had the pleasure of interviewing Carrboro's Mayor, Damon Seils, and discussed how art makes a more rich and vibrant community. Below is a transcript of our conversation for your convenience.


"Hi, I'm Damon Siles I'm the mayor of Carrboro. My Muse is probably the community of people that I spend my time with. My friends, my town, I spend so much of my time especially as mayor, you know, working, that I have to almost see that work as a source of inspiration. So yeah I think my muse is my community and trying to do better to develop connections in that community is important to me.

Most of the ways that I engage with art in my everyday life is through music. I go to see a lot of live music performances. I enjoy listening to music, I do it every day. I also grew up playing the piano a little bit. Although I'm not very good I do still like to sit down and play around a little bit so music's been an important artistic form for me really for my entire life. Growing up I think I listened to a lot of you know what I guess called alternative music in the independent music

anywhere from punk music to alternative rock music. So yeah just I can name so many that's hard to start. I think today I really appreciate going to see local music. I have a lot of friends who are in local music and perform a lot locally so I love going out to the Cat's Cradle here in Carrboro or to the back room or any of our other local music venues to see my friends perform which is a lot of fun

but I also do some artistic creative or creative exploration in my work. I work in communications which sometimes gives me the chance to play around with new ways of creating images and sharing information in graphical ways which I find a good creative outlet for myself. Although I am not myself an artist I think encouraging more art in a community like Carrboro is easy in some ways and in other ways not so easy it's easy because we have so many creative people and artists and musicians who live in and around Carrboro and we have for many years that's why we have a reputation as being an Arts town. People come here from all over to see to see live music. People come here because they know that Carrboro is an Arts friendly space and for as long as I've been here and longer. Carrboro has had artistic outlets, art galleries art shops, and those kinds of things.

One of the ways that I think it's difficult now in Carrboro and one of the things that concerns me as Carrboro becomes a more expensive place to live is that it's harder for working artists to live here and I even have some of my own friends who are artists who no longer can live in Carrboro because it's become so expensive. So that's a challenge for us as a community and as policymakers to think about how we make it possible for people to stay here who want to make their life as artists in Carrboro. One of the things we have to be doing for example is making it easier to build more in different kinds of housing for all kinds of people to live in Carrboro. Art and creativity are part of what makes a community vibrant. One of the things that I like about living in Carrboro and being here in Carrboro and Chapel Hill and near the university is that we have such ready access to the Arts it's part of what makes it fun and just Pleasant to be here and even in our built environment when you see all the murals on buildings around the town and that kind of thing it shapes the way that people experience living here and how they linger in space and interact with one another and I feel like Carrboro and Chapel Hill have been good places for that integrating art into just every day which is a really important part of making a community feel lived in and feel comfortable. One of the ways that I've been enjoying local art most recently in Carrboro is through one of our newer local businesses Peel Gallery which is right here in downtown Carrboro. They have monthly openings and receptions for new exhibits by local artists and I just you know PLS really just created a really nice vibrant space in downtown Carrboro to celebrate and appreciate art that we might not have seen otherwise. One of my favorite local artists is Ron Liberty he always comes to mind when people ask me about local artists. He's a screen print artist and has been around for a long time. He's also one of our local artists who has had to move out of the community because it has become so costly to live in Carrboro and Ron is somebody I think about a lot when I think about that challenge of sustaining Carrboro's affordability for working people in a region that has become so popular for people to live in. So we have a lot of local Arts, we have a lot of local Arts establishments and a lot of local artists to support and we can do that directly by supporting them in their businesses and in their artwork but we also need to be doing that at least I think as a policy maker doing that by making it easier to build more housing. For example, making it easier for local businesses to get up and get going all of those things support artists and arts.

One thing that is a lost art that I would like to see revived is handwriting. I always used to write everything by hand and I feel like I never do anymore and when I do it feels difficult, which is a shame because I always enjoyed writing and I always felt like I had good handwriting and people have told me I have good handwriting which I always appreciate. I'm not sure that people ever write by hand anymore or at least not as much as we used to and I think that's a lost art and I think it's important. I love writing cards to people and in the last decade of my life which has mostly been taken up by serving in elected office a lot of my card writing has been related to my work as an elected official and keeping in touch with constituents so that's been fun but I also have regretted a little bit that it's taken me away from a more personal attachment to communicating with people in that way through cards and letters. I think we all feel that too just you know the availability of the internet and email and keeping each other keeping in touch with each other on social media has detracted a lot I think from those more traditional ways of keeping in touch. I'm hoping after my time in public service I will take that back into my personal life rather than my public life. I think in a community like Carrboro and Chapel Hill art and creativity and connection are really the same thing so much of our local economy and our local culture is centered on the Arts and Music that it really frames the way that we interact with each other with our neighbors with our fellow community members. I think about downtown Carrboro for example which is really the engine of our local economy and so much of it really is around the Arts whether it's going to a show at the Cat's Cradle or going into a shop that sells arts and handcrafts, that is the kind of thing that people experience about downtown Carrboro that is maybe not like some other places, also our connection to the university makes it just so easy for us to experience the Arts and participate in the Arts that again I think arts and connection here are intertwined in ways that maybe they aren't elsewhere."


If you are interested in watching the interview, linked below is the full video.


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