LIVE: Joel Tracey – Where the Rubber Meets the Road


Joel Tracy opens with a “Lawdah mercy!” and a quote that touched him while researching the topic of Friction. “In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay, and unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable — and help to change it. Ernst Fischer.

Everyone that’s been to Charlotte knows, we are under construction. “We are a growing city,” Joel says, “Charlotte was settled in 1775, but 75% of our population growth has been within the last 50 years. With this growth comes a redefinition of identity.”

The question on everyone’s mind: Who are we and what is our identity

He says he’s been asked to speak because he’s working on some new projects to inspire creativity. He says he typically does the opposite of what he’s told, and that attitude has helped him dare to be different and change the way people think and live in Charlotte.

Mentioning the Cheshire Dinner Society, he talks about vulnerability and opening one’s self up to new things. Only the adventurous palate has been welcome in this social experiment of food, atmosphere, magic and wild culinary creations, in addition to making friendships that would last well beyond those moments. The experience was something that stood out, something new to Charlotte.

Recently in Toronto, Joel says that he had to optimize his limited time of 48 hours. And though it was incredible, he brought home the idea of being a tourist in his own backyard of Charlotte in order to see how much our city has to offer. He says we need to break out from the norms to remember the vibrance of our city. On another trip, he mentions building an effigy in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and how that inspired him because it offered an opportunity to see how creating something encouraged his travel group to interact and engage.

For the last seven years, Joel has been working on a great project that’s been an answer to a local question: Culture Initiative. This endeavor has given artists the opportunity to get involved and also sell their work to the community. Once the artists started to react, they knew they were onto something. This is where FRICTION comes into play. He says, “We have something unique. Something that no one else has.” We can create unique expressions of cultural identity.

On an inspirational note, he says, “When you take your mission and turn it into a purpose, you can make great things happen.”

When we stop looking across the street or to other cities for what’s trending, we are empowered to do it ourselves. Tracy says, “This is when the magic happens.”



TEDx Photo Intro - Joel


About the Speaker…

From dance music, to the arts community, underground dinners and food community, Joel Tracey has poured his passion into the city since moving to Charlotte in 2005.  From these experiences Joel has helped in the development of Culture Initiative, Cheshire Dinner Society, BMCofNC Charlotte, Piedmont Culinary Guild, as well as a few music and beer events.  By trade, he is a brand identity & concept development graphic designer working with brands like Dr. Martens, Robert Wayne, Salud Bottle Shop, and Papi Queso.   With an infectious personality and love for all things culture, Joel has managed to curate Charlotte cool.. fun unique experience that help make the city unique.