Everyone has a story that can encourage and uplift others, whether it’s those already connected to them, or people they’ve never met. Whole communities can be strengthened through the simple power of sharing stories.
At least, that’s what Tyler Sea believes.
To prove this, he’s launched The Community Experiment, a podcast in which he interviews the people of Coeur d’Alene—small business owners, stay-at-home parents, college students, tradesmen, anyone with a story to tell. He wants to provide a platform for everyday people in the area to share their experiences.
“Everyone has dreams and goals, but not many actually start the process to reach those goals,” he said. “That’s why I want to get these stories out. On the podcast, we bring everyday people on and we tell their story, in the hopes that it encourages people to do what they love.”
Originally from Louisville, Ky., Sea met his wife in Kansas City, Mo. She was from Coeur d’Alene, and the two of them used to debate where they ought to settle down. After just one visit, Sea said Coeur d’Alene won him over. They’ve lived here almost three years now. Oddly enough, the atmosphere in Coeur d’Alene reminds Sea of the edges of the south: a kind of down-home charm, southern hospitality.
Sea launched The Community Experiment about a year ago. His early interviews were with his friends and family in Coeur d’Alene, and have branched out from there, to include the people he meets in his daily life.
“I see this as a platform so businesses can come on and tell their stories, but also as a resource to everyday, small-town folks,” he said. “I can see this as being a cultural hub of Coeur d’Alene.”
Podcasting is an ideal medium for this project, he says, because it’s accessible. It’s easy to listen to a podcast while going about daily life—during the morning commute, while walking to class, while the kids are sleeping.
“I think everybody has something that rings true for them. Podcasting is that for me,” he said.
Sea’s greatest strength is his ability to connect and communicate with people from all walks of life. He wants to be an influence for positivity in his community, to teach others how to use their energies and pursue their passions.
That, he says, is the real experiment that gives the podcast its name. Podcasting is simply his way of reaching out.
“That’s how I came up—in video production and graphic design, and then working with young people, teaching them and being there for them,” he said. “That was my world for a long time.”
Exploring personal identity is a common theme of The Community Experiment. Sea is interested in tracing how a person’s background may have shaped what they’re doing now, and how it will affect them in the future. People often fall into patterns, he says, laying the groundwork for their futures based on what they’ve done in the past. Such a pattern has emerged in Sea’s own life, based on the example set by his father.
“I grew up with a lot of dudes who had no dad in the picture,” he said. “But my dad took me out of a bad area in Louisville and moved me to an area where I would have more people to positively influence me—which is essentially what I’m doing right now.”
Reflecting on his life, Sea says there has always been an older black man he could look up to, a positive example of masculinity. But in a mostly-white city like Coeur d’Alene, young people of color often don’t have many role models. Sea wants to set an example for black and brown kids in Coeur d’Alene, just as his father and other adults in his life once did for him. He also wants to celebrate his personal identity as a black man, and encourage others to do the same.
“You need to respect all races, but love who you are,” he said. “There’s nothing I want to be but a black male. I love it. But I have so much respect for every other race. I want my kids to respect everybody and love who they are at the same time.”
Sea hopes to uplift and strengthen the community in Coeur d’Alene through his podcast, as well as combat stereotypes about the area.
“I have friends and family all over the nation,” he said. “In every podcast, I make sure to talk about Coeur d’Alene. People need to know that Coeur d’Alene is not Richard Butler and the Aryan Nations. Coeur d’Alene is beautiful and accepting and loving. It really is a great place to be.”
Photographer: Ashley Sea
Article by: Kaye Tho
Festival: Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, 2012