Commonwealth Journal

March 14, 2014

Group touts social medium that promotes commonwealth

by Heather Tomlinson
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —

Explore your Old Kentucky Home, one picture at a time.
That’s the idea behind “Explore Kentucky,” a social media project created by a Campbellsville University graduate who sought to show the many sides of the Commonwealth to as large of an audience as possible. 
“Out of all the places I’ve lived in, it (Kentucky) converges a lot of things into one,” said Gerry James, the project’s organizer and a social media and public relations strategist. 
James is a native of Wisconsin who has lived in a number of areas, including Germany and other European locations, New Jersey, and most recently Georgia. He resided in Kentucky for four years, during his time at Campbellsville University, but he said he’s become a staunch defender of the state after experiencing its variety of people and places. 
“It’s like a melting pot,” said James. “You can get all this diverse culture in Kentucky.” 
Kentucky boasts a rural beauty juxtaposed with what James defined as “ultra-modern” cities like Lexington and Louisville. The state’s mountainous eastern region, the rolling hills of its south-central region, and its wide, expansive western region all combine to create a unique experience for the Kentucky explorer. 
James said he’s explored many areas of Kentucky in his time here.
“My undergraduate weekends were spent adventuring either solo or with friends around Kentucky,” James wrote in an online piece (found at www.kaintuckeean.com) introducing himself and his project. “Traversing across Knob State Forest in Bullitt County. Daydreaming about the Civil War on the battlefields at Perryville. Determining whether the Land Between the Lakes’ "monster" was real. Getting spooked in a Confederate war cemetery in Wingo. Dancing the night away at concerts in Louisville. Participating in the world's largest water balloon fight. Picking tobacco. 
There is so much to do in Kentucky,” James added.
The project involves several social media sites, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. 
It’s a state-wide movement, one that has garnered thousands of participants. 14,000 pictures have been posted to the Instagram account, which has more than 3,000 followers, and the Facebook account has more than 1,000 “likes.”
“This is growing daily,” said James. 
That’s a lot of participation from a project that began less than six months ago, in October 2013. 
“It was shocking,” said James. “It shows how you can change people’s perception through social media.”
And now, James and his team are asking that Somerset and Pulaski County residents join the movement. The “Explore Kentucky” organizers and participants are converging on Somerset today for the Kentucky Green Living Fair, now in its second year.
The “Explore Kentucky” team plans on taking in Somerset and all it has to offer, and they’re hoping to let locals know about the movement that has brought many of the most interesting and beautiful aspects of the state to the forefront of social media. 
“We’ve been drawn together from ‘Explore Kentucky,’” said James, about the group of approximately 40 people who plan to bring the project to Somerset today. “It’s really cool.”
James said they will be at the fair the whole day, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and hope to feature a live projected feed of incoming pictures posted to the social media accounts. 
To participate in the project and post pictures of your own Kentucky travels — locally and state-wide, go to Twitter (you can find and follow the account by searching “ExploreKentucky”), Facebook (located at www.facebook.com/ExploreKentucky), and Instagram (you can locate the account by searching “Explore Kentucky” and users can post their pictures to the account by tagging their pictures with #explorekentucky).