I recently asked Angela Tewalt to do the impossible — share her own perspective on why she works so extremely hard to champion the people and places of the OTA region. Having dedicated this past year to features and spotlights of creatives and community builders, I’m confident it was the first time she has taken a moment to consider why it’s so critical to her to do the work — tirelessly and at an extraordinarily high standard. I’m confident that she’s revealed a deep truth of OTA in this vulnerable and beautiful piece. Enjoy, Hugh Weber, OTA/CEO


Already, I worry if this will resonate. I’m already thinking about how much these thoughts mean to me and how little they could mean to you, but I’m honoring that risk anyway, because if I am going to tell your stories, then you deserve to know Why that is so important to me. You must know how much I appreciate this work.

I’m emotionally exhausted, but I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful this will challenge you, too.

Do you ever get to a point every now and then where you try so hard and give so much to your work, but it still seems to fall short? Or maybe the vision begins to feel too grandiose and far away, but the tug remains … more than ever? I think this is normal — something along the lines of perfection or stubbornness or perseverance.

Or passion.

Passion is a beautiful word and delivers beautiful results almost all of the time, but if it takes up so much room in our hearts, how come it hurts sometimes, too? I think to believe in something so strongly means that we can be defensive and vulnerable and maybe even relentless, but it’s our souls at work. So we march on. And on.

But wouldn’t a little encouragement help? A reminder that what we’re doing counts? Sometimes our own validation is not enough, and if we want to see bigger pictures, I feel like we need a push outside of ourselves.

I think we need each other.

And I think it’s time to celebrate. As much as we give to our passions, we should be giving to others, too. Support and respect and recognition is empowering.

Recognition matters.

It feels good to have pride in our work, right? But I think no matter how much we love and praise our own accomplishments, we are able to love it even more — and thus believe in ourselves even more — when someone else does, too.

My name is Angela Tewalt, and I write because helping you to believe in your work brings me joy. Celebrating the good in our region makes a difference to me. I love to write, and my passion is to write about you.

Won’t you let me help you reveal your greatest self?

Good work inspires good work

We work so hard, and this life is so full. It’s full with imagination and desire and schedules and plans. We’re doing more and seeing more and becoming very accomplished people, don’t you think? It’s liberating but it’s terrifying at the same time, because with all of this stimulation and fast pace, are we even keeping sight on what we’re shooting for?

This is why recognition helps. It slows us down to remind us of the possibility thriving around us, but I also think this is why positive stories about positive people doing positive things can have great effect — in something as simple as our day or in something as grand as redefining what we want to achieve ourselves. Good work can only inspire more good work.

For me, my more was you. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I was feeling most fulfilled when I was celebrating all of you, standing along your sidelines.

And I like it there.

Today, I think a lot about what a world would look like if support of others was a more natural, innate part of life. What if all of our work involved taking time to talk positively about the work of others, too? We encourage teamwork, kindness and generosity on our children, so shouldn’t we be practicing that kind of selflessness, too? Every single day?

So I write to remind you of your good and hopefully inspire others to begin nurturing theirs. And although this is ceaseless work — there will always be a story to tell — there is adventure in that, too, for if I keep this up, I will always be seeking out the passion and purpose of others. Making a choice and a continuous effort to discover and revere the best in all of us. I love that approach to my work, and to my life.

You should know, it can be a part of yours, too.

Fewer words, more action, keep going!

It’s not easy, trying to articulate Why I Do What I Do. I might even feel defeated, because the message is so clear in my heart! I believe in this work so much! But focusing more on why our work matters is at least a start, and seeking an understanding in that can have a forever impact. On all of us.

For now, I’ll just keep going. I think all of us just need to keep going! And I need to show you.

Maybe the truth is not so much in my words as it is in my embrace of this region.

And that’s what matters most to me: To embrace you and to raise you up to where you belong. If I choose to empower the good in you, will you choose to empower the good in you and others, too? Celebrations of passion and hard work and dreamers have an absolute place here, and your stories matter enough to me to help you find that place.

What is my Why? I would just love for us to feel good about ourselves and those around us. I want to celebrate you however you see yourself — in your community, in this region, in this world and in your heart. I believe those celebrations can begin to change perspectives and give inspiration where it’s needed. Eventually, I believe those celebrations can change the world, and I don’t think that’s dramatic!

I think it’s hopeful.