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Joaquin Around with Niccolo Go

Aug 25, 2018 11:00AM ● Published by Jordan Venema

Gallery: Niccolo Go [3 Images] Click any image to expand.

Stories Out On The Go

September 2018
By Jordan Venema
Photos Courtesy of Niccolo Go

THE SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY is a diverse region rich in culture, food and geography, but also often maligned by an association with statistics that paint a bleaker, smoggier portrait. But one Visalia resident is proving one social media post at a time that the San Joaquin Valley is not just misunderstood but also beautiful, and he’s doing it simply by walking around.  

Originally from the East Coast, Niccolo Go relocated to Visalia to be closer to family, but driven by his passion for people and their stories, in 2014 he launched Joaquin Around, a personal blog about food, music, art and culture in the San Joaquin Valley.

“When I first moved here, I would ask people what there is to do. Often I would hear, ‘We don’t do much,’” Go says. “And for a while, I believed it.” Until Go was invited to a Portuguese Mantança do Porco, a traditional pig slaughter, at a private ranch. 

“There I learned about this very specific culture that’s been part of the valley for so long,” says Go. “It was an eye opener to realize that when people said this place lacked culture, I think it was perhaps not knowing how to define the word. So after meeting some people and making friends, I realized it wasn’t a true characterization, and in fact there’s a diversity of culture here.”

Joaquin Around became Go’s personal journey to capture the stories of the San Joaquin Valley and tell them through writing, photo and video, which he posted on his website and various social media platforms. And while the journey is about discovery, it’s clear that for Go it’s also about appreciation.

He’s discovering the overlooked and maybe even avoided hole-in-the-wall taquerias, or the hyper-local festivals celebrated by tight-knit communities, and the back-alley venues frequented by yet-undiscovered bands. All the while, Go records and produces stories in one- or two-minute video clips, these intimate and behind-the-scene glimpses into the kind of culture that sometimes slips through the cracks, but is right there if you know where to look. 

The San Joaquin Valley is a diverse region rich in culture, food and geography, but also often maligned by an association with statistics that paint a bleaker, smoggier portrait. But one Visalia resident is proving one social media post at a time that the San Joaquin Valley is not just misunderstood but also beautiful, and he’s doing it simply by walking around.  

Originally from the East Coast, Niccolo Go relocated to Visalia to be closer to family, but driven by his passion for people and their stories, in 2014 he launched Joaquin Around, a personal blog about food, music, art and culture in the San Joaquin Valley.

“When I first moved here, I would ask people what there is to do. Often I would hear, ‘We don’t do much,’” Go says. “And for a while, I believed it.” 

Until Go was invited to a Portuguese Mantança do Porco, a traditional pig slaughter, at a private ranch. 

“There I learned about this very specific culture that’s been part of the valley for so long,” says Go. “It was an eye opener to realize that when people said this place lacked culture, I think it was perhaps not knowing how to define the word. So after meeting some people and making friends, I realized it wasn’t a true characterization, and in fact there’s a diversity of culture here.”

Joaquin Around became Go’s personal journey to capture the stories of the San Joaquin Valley and tell them through writing, photo and video, which he posted on his website and various social media platforms. And while the journey is about discovery, it’s clear that for Go it’s also about appreciation.

He’s discovering the overlooked and maybe even avoided hole-in-the-wall taquerias, or the hyper-local festivals celebrated by tight-knit communities, and the back-alley venues frequented by yet-undiscovered bands. All the while, Go records and produces stories in one- or two-minute video clips, these intimate and behind-the-scene glimpses into the kind of culture that sometimes slips through the cracks, but is right there if you know where to look.

Go is doing his part to help others discover the wealth and hidden beauty of the San Joaquin Valley, while challenging the way we define culture.

“Sometimes people think culture is going to the opera or going to a stadium show,” says Go, “but culture is anything that we participate in that defines the way we live.” 

That could be a Greek or Armenian festival, a farmers market or Portuguese Festa, or maybe a bullfight in Laton or even a quinceanera. 

“But at the other end of the spectrum,” he continues, “there’s the Tulare County Symphony, and that’s a very artistic pursuit. In a large city that wouldn’t be as accessible, though it might be more visible, but in a smaller community we have a world-class orchestra, and one that’s very accessible.”

Sadly, culture has become a commodity, and by a psychological trick we expect more worth the more we pay. And yet, free culture is all around us, and just waiting to be explored and appreciated. 

“You have to work a bit harder for it because it’s not promoted like it would be in a large city,” Go says. “But that’s also what makes it more authentic.” 

So Go continues to highlight those stories, whether it’s during a large festival in Fresno, a restaurant in Visalia or a small Filipino bakery. But wherever he goes and whatever story he tells, social media seems to be the right medium for Joaquin Around.

Since Go posts edited clips on Instagram and YouTube, viewers are able to comment on his stories, sometimes even live. Because the response is immediate, whether through direct message or a public post, the result is a continuous thread that creates a kind of community, which in itself is a kind of a culture. Joaquin Around, then, isn’t just discovering culture; it’s helping create it, too. And that’s what motivates Go.

“I continue to do it because I get that feedback from people who comment on a post and say they’ll definitely check it out, or I’m going to have that ice cream or I’m going to have that sandwich. Or maybe they’ll DM me asking for an address,” he says, adding that sometimes they even suggest a place he needs to visit. 

Paradoxically, then, by setting out to find culture, culture has begun to find him, and through a multitude of voices on social media responding to the question he first set out to answer for himself. Just what is there to do around here anyway?

Well, he’s found it by Joaquin Around, and he has no intention to stop.

“I’m fueled by people’s enthusiasm and their love for their own culture. I love listening to them, and eating their food, or experiencing their art,” says Go, adding that the potential for these kind of experiences in the San Joaquin Valley, well, it’s limitless. • 


www.joaquinaround.com • instagram @joaquin.around

YouTube JoaquinAround • Find him on Facebook



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