In 2017, Rene Perez, of 28-time Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards winner Puerto Rican band Calle 13, documented his journey to connect the results of an ancestry DNA test to his personal development as a musician.
In the documentary, the troubadour Residente (a Spanish noun meaning "resident") awakens a universal story of the resilience of people press by wars and attacks, and the continual trauma that awakens the inner fight all but buried in each person individually. From it all, he made songs.
As the women wailed from the six percent of Native American ancestry (by way of bitter-cold Mongolia), the drummers drummed dust from the depressed grounds of West Africa - from which Residente traced 10 percent of his ancestry. The remainder of his DNA came from Eastern European countries and Spain, culminating with the continuous cavalcade of percussive sounds that is distinct to Puerto Rico.
The essence of his music was simple: The pressures people endure as a collective can be managed when people unify; individually, each person has the opportunity to wage a sure fight to a become better than the circumstances they find themselves in collectively.
The rising of the rose out of the concrete - so to speak - is available to the individual and the collective. The music told the story of resilience.
Washington and Holmes counties know what resiliency is. Unless we forget:
Washington County's Madison "the dragon slayer" Wilson is now a Chipley High School senior after panting a fiery breath of fight against the suffocating threats of cancer.
Holmes County's Angela Steely held tight to a search for a kidney transplant - and is now moving forward in great health.
This kind of resiliency is a collective tone for both counties.
The area's gem, the 79 Corridor, which ties Bonifay, Holmes, and Washington counties to a boundless economic development, is not only fully-funded, but is has an authority that is recognized as its own governmental entity.
To be clear, in order to achieve substantial growth, it is more than a matter of holding out until things change, as Executive Director of Washington County's Chamber of Commerce President Ted Everett preached at the start of storm recovery efforts. Each city, county, or entity would need to actively pursue their goals, he said. And he was right. Now a debt-free Washington County is on its way to establishing a regional disaster complex to serve the Panhandle and neighboring states.
Holmes County is upgrading its jail, pursuing a new emergency medical services station, undergoing numerous road improvement projects, and moving toward implementing a multi-hundred thousand dollar beautification plan.
Out of unfortunate events that strike at the individual and the collective, from drug abuse problems to natural disasters, our communities still find the heart to host rodeos, plant trees, celebrate the opening of new businesses in downtowns, throw huge festivals, the list goes on.
Much like Residente, and the snapshots of stories I covered here in Washington and Holmes counties, as I move on to continue my own journalistic journey to something unknown - something special that came out of struggle and difficult circumstances - I look forward to cracking the concrete and watching the dust dance beneath my feet.