If you’ve visited Prairietown
this year, you may have noticed that the Prairietown Host, that blue-shirt-wearing, modern-minded person at the main crossroads in town, had a few new tricks up his or her sleeve. We’ve been testing different guide-book-like options that you can carry around to help you get involved with the daily life of Prairietown more deeply. By the end of the year, we hope to hone in on what the best possible version or versions of these guides should be for people of all ages to use in town.
Another item that the host has been using is a ballot box and a set of ballots with one really simple question: do you think you would want to settle in town or keep moving West? We would like all of our guests in Prairietown to put themselves in the shoes of the average traveler in 1836. Many, many people were on the move, in search of a place where the grass truly was greener and where life could be a little easier. Any traveler who happened across a little town like ours would have to ask themselves that same question: do I stay or do I go? The relative safety offered by a town like Prairietown (most of the Indians have moved on, most of the bears and wild cats have been killed off, etc) would be attractive, but the wide-open possibilities of the endless ‘West’ would still call to most of those men, women, and children who couldn’t help but be curious about what else was out there.
By casting your vote on our little ballots, you’re helping us reenvision our understanding of Prairietown. For decades, we have thought of Prairietown as a fictional-yet-typical little village in the 1830s, and for decades we’ve sealed its fate – a town Prairietown’s size would not have been likely to survive the economic collapse of 1837 and would have disappeared.
But what if Prairietown didn’t stay the same size? After all, some small towns in Indiana did survive the collapse, all thanks to the proper balance of settlement, economic investment, and natural resources. So, what if Prairietown could attract enough of the right kind of people – hard-working, ingenious types – who can help make sure the town survives? As we collect information from you all in the form of ballots and other feedback, we’re going to periodically evaluate Prairietown’s potential strength and vitality – if we find a high enough percentage of determined settlers who want to put down roots here, we might be able to justify Prairietown’s fictional survival.
Check back throughout the year to see how the decisions you make in Prairietown shape its fictional future! And, as, always, please let us know what you think of this idea!