Written by Rikki - Founder of Ohio Explored
A little over 2 years ago we made the decision to move home to Ohio from Portland, Oregon. I was working as a UX Designer at a Creative Agency and whenever I would tell people where I was from they would frown and apologize that I had to grow up in such a place. Portlanders saw Ohio as a Midwest wasteland, their views often came solely from television shows made by people who have never been to Ohio. I noticed the same general attitude from Californians when I lived in LA several years earlier.
I wanted to prove a co-worker wrong by showing him photos of my beautiful home state. I had delightful memories of Waterfalls, rolling hills, and lush green forests from my Ohio childhood. I searched online and I couldn't find anything other than outdated websites and clickbate lists. Where was the visual documentation of the beauty I remember so well?
I expanded by search mediums and started looking on social media sites like Instagram. I was stunned that I could not find a central location online that showcased Ohio's beauty. That is when the idea of Ohio Explored was born. I wanted to create a community where people could share beautiful Ohio through their eyes. I pitched the idea to my husband (boyfriend at the time) and he looked at me like I was crazy. I had a vision for something that was difficult to describe but with a little convincing he was totally in as my business partner.
I started the @OhioExplored Instagram account in July of 2015. Originally I just posted my own photographs with inspiring quotes that I needed to hear at the time. I was in my mid-twenties living across the country from my friends and family. These quotes and photos took me to a serene place with each post. I thought deeply about the words and they brought light to my life.
I started the hashtag #ohioexplored with the hopes that other Ohio Instagrammers would join in on my mission. To my delight, it worked. Our account quickly grew and blossomed into a beautiful community of people who truly value Ohio.
Few people know that we moved back to Ohio so that we could geotag our photos. It was very important to us that our followers could find the locations we posted to explore on their own. At the time, you could not tag an Ohio location unless you were in Ohio. I quit my job within a few weeks of starting the account and we moved back to Ohio to plant the seeds for Ohio Explored. After 5 days of driving back across the county, we returned to our homeland with new eyes. We had never been so grateful for our roots and the beautiful land we were born from. From that moment, Ohio was new again.
We have met the most wonderful and interesting people through Ohio Explored. Makers, Artists, Photographers, Musicians, Local Business Owners, Community Members and Explorers - we always seem to be drawn to people who are passionate about what they do. Ohio is full of talented people and it is amazing what we can do when our hearts are in it.
Over the past 2 years we have had many opportunities to connect with our fellow Ohioans, from our Instameets & Popup Shops to Maker Marts & Local Events. We have appreciated each opportunity to meet the beautiful humans that support our community.