This blog is written by one of 15 individuals attending the South By Southwest Conference in Austin with the intention to bring back ideas and to reimagine Richland County.

As I sit here and reflect on the week and the experience of SXSW, I can’t help but to get emotional.

Damien Beauford

I have had great deal of meaningful conversations, from the pedicab driver to the guy running with only a scarf and a Depends on, and even Bonin Bough's  former assistant (long story). Outside of the fact that I got to spend time and get to know some of the greatest people in Mansfield, it has opened my eyes to so many new things, including other people's viewpoints, experiences and voice.

It wasn’t until the last day in the last hour that it all came together - in a session with one cowgirl and three cowboys from Fort Worth, Texas. Yup, real ones, not the ones you see in the movies. I was finally able to ask a question without being told to sit down (so cool), and I was given a very real and very passionate answer, not only from the panel but an executive vice president from the chamber as well:

I have a passion for art and music and I will fight for the art and music community of Mansfield. We have so much talent in our city and this goes across the board, but what are we doing to make sure these people stay here? What are we doing to make sure they're living, working and contributing to our community?

Summer couldn’t have said this any better, the city of Fort Worth has embraced their artists and they’re behind them and support them. They get it, and hats off to our local Chamber and Foundation because they get it too, and they’re embracing the assets of our community and supporting them.

When I would explain what we were doing from a little town in Ohio (that no one had ever heard of), the common response was “that’s so awesome” or “that’s great,” and often “I’d like to see what comes of that”. The tune from Mansfield has to be the same, which was one of the purposes of these blog posts - so that you could not only follow along, but be part of this journey and great story.

So what about the unexpectedness of Mansfield? A lot of us have our minds made up about what type of city this is. Most of the time it’s not good. But what message do we really want to send, what do we want to be known for? Take 30 seconds or so to think about that...and know that it’s possible.

At SXSW, everything is a possibility and right on the edge of a breakthrough. Mansfield, what this group of people bring to the table is possible and right on the edge of a breakthrough. Get behind it, support it, and be a part of the story!

Stay tuned and follow the progress via #SXSW419. And watch for more blogs at

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South by Southwest Conference Blogger

Father of five, a barber and young entrepreneur who has a heart for his city and young people who will be the future leaders. He has a passion for small businesses and opportunities they could bring to the community.