Photos by Jennifer Wetzel
Joplin. It is the place that I’ve spent slightly more than half of my life. It is a place that is simultaneously familiar and foreign to me. I have maintained a healthy level of nostalgia for it without wishing it was someplace that it wasn’t. Or isn’t. It was a good place to grow up. I can say that knowing I won’t be moving there. Most of my friends have also moved to other cities, but a few have remained, which makes traveling there more well-rounded than visiting only my parents’ house. Which isn’t the same house I grew up in. I am a visitor there. A familiar visitor.
It is from this perspective that this set is presented. Residents and past residents will view these photos and see familiar sites, moods. Others will see photos of a town and environs that feel familiar. To accept a town is to accept the good with the bad, the quirks and the suburbs, the chain stores and the glimpses of humanity. I have chosen not to include images about or from the aftermath of the Joplin tornado of 2011. While I have many of striking shots of that disaster, I recognize that my memory is too broad to limit my version of the town to that particular time.