Jonathan Dodson offers some helpful tips in exegeteing your culture:
- Ask your neighbors and fellow citizens lots of questions. Don’t freakin interrogate them but show sincere, intentional interest in them and the info they possess. Anecdotal information about your city and fellow citizens is unbeatable. Ask them the what, how, and why questions: What do you think is broken in our neighborhood or city? What gets you excited about life? What do you think should be done about economic decline in our city? why do you drive across town to do X? why do you dislike traditional Christianity. Feel free to add to this in the comments.
- Read local, independent publications. Very often the stuff that looks like a waste of time contains some of the most clear voices from within your culture. Get local (not just national) opinions and reviews on movies, books, culture and politics. For Austin: Statesman, The Chronicle, Misprint, Austin 360 blog, the Austinist, etc. Feel free to add to this list in the comments.
- Gather historical information on your city and neighborhood. How did your city come to be the way it is? What political and cultural and economic issues have shaped the ethos and beliefs of your city? Read local authors and histories. Austin: Writing Austin’s Lives, History of Austin DVD, Bob Bullock History Museum, Neighborhood Assns, etc.
- Participate in local art, music, and business. Support local business, go to art shows, listen to local bands. Examples are endless in Austin.