The best one sentence summary of it's inception is: "Normcore, as defined by K-hole and interpreted by me, is the valuing of connections and participation over authenticity or uniqueness." But if you've heard of it, it probably is more related to fashion than to a social movement. And what a damn shame, because we need a social movement that asks us to throw off the ways we compare ourselves in attempts to form small, elite social groups and stand out as unique, ways like--vintage clothes, homemade, DIY, American made, attachment parenting, organic food, vegan food, real food, renewable, ancestral food, sincerity, sarcasm, recyclable, homegrown, no TV, ect... A lot of these things have true value (and I, myself, value many of them), but more and more I am seeing that the judgements that surround them get in the way of not only forming meaningful connections with people who have values that are slightly to the left, right, top or bottom of ours, but it also keeps us from having fun.
Tim and I were recently reflecting on how glad we were to be out of the phase where we're quite so concerned with looking a certain way. For both of us, that concern was actually more concerned with looking like we didn't try too hard--but we both did! I've charted the change back to our trip to Italy, when we both had to ask ourselves the questions "Do we want to walk 5+ miles a day in 95 degree weather in sleek unsupported sandals (me)/tight cut off jeans (him) or do we want to be comfortable?" So, we went to REI and bought some walking sandals and some elastic band shorts. So, at a fashion level, I guess we've converted to normcore. Which has made us into those older people trying to by cool because I think this is a fashion trend for young twenty-somethings in Brooklyn. Oh well. In Spokane, the cool people still mostly look like they're trying to be cool. And I don't think they use the word cool. I keep meaning to ask my students this.
Bringing that attitude back with us, I see that more and more of that attitude in Spokane. Recently, I stopped by Bazaar, which is put on by the folks who put on Terrain, and was thrilled to see so many different types of people there. (When Terrrain started, I still felt too hip to go and enjoy myself, so I spent a lot of time critiquing the crowd. What an asshole.) There were a lot of hip twenty-seomthings, yes, but there was also me, two weeks after becoming a mom, kids with popsicles and swim-trunks on, men my dad's age, bikers (both kinds), farm types, middle-aged women in sparkly sandals--all types. I often describe people by their taste in music ("He's the type of guy who likes Pearl Jam") and I think there were Pearl Jam people, and Katy Perry people, and Dismemberment Plan people, Blake Shelton, Disco Biscuits, Kanye West, Led Zeppelin, Carrie Underwood, you get it. And it made me glad that events in Spokane are pretty come-one-come-all types. We're just so grateful to be out and part of something, and I don't think a lot of cities have that same air of gratitude. We're kinda (cough cough) normcore.
But I don't want to ignore the ugly side of Spokane: we lack diversity, and when we have it, it is mostly segregated, we have a serious problem with poverty, and we're obsessed with gentrification (even though we kinda suck at it). But I think that a trend that asks us to minimize social symbols for the sake of experiencing life as part of a group, even if it starts with fashion (or started in art, then moved to fashion), is good for us. And I think it's a good thing for everyone to reflect on. I just hope the conversation doesn't stop at fashion.