this photo is from today's jelly at house 2.0. check out the work at jelly flickr group for more photos.
happy 2nd birthday to "work at jelly!"
today, i headed uptown to House 2.0 for a bit of organic coworking and to be a member of "24 hours of jelly." if you haven't heard of jelly, it's really something you should check out... (you should also check out episode 3 when i visited jelly last summer).
what is jelly? imagine opening up your house to the coolest people in the world and just geeking out. well, that's jelly. sometimes it's super productive (like two weeks ago in brooklyn) or it turns into a gab fest when a CNN reporter shows up. eatherway, it's one of the best ways to meet new people and extend your social network.
it really doesn't take much to host a jelly - set a date, email your friends and set up a wiki. yup, it's that simple. i hope to jell with you some time soon!
first, i'm spit polishing my thoughts for my "omega-th" dorkbot nyc presentation. tomorrow's presentation will be light hearted and quite bitch'n. from 19h00 (7pm) on, i'll be at location one fighting my fears and reminiscing about my journey around the world. afterward, i'll head over to the tank (the arts space not the drunk thing) and see my living liberally buddies, mike and his shinny new book. i hope you can attend one or both!
oh, if you're looking for photos from last friday's brooklyn coworking open house / "work at jelly" session - check day 238 photoset on flickr.
ALSO, last night i had an awesome opportunity to hang out with the UnionDocs crew for their screening of sleepwalking through the mekong. the film highlights dengue fever (the band, not the illness) mini-tour in cambodia. while the Q & A session got hot and spicy, i enjoyed seeing Pheom Phen and found myself missing the other-side of the world. if you have a chance, check out UnionDocs' documentary bodega series and if you can, try to catch dengue fever!
- other thoughts -
it is hard to believe that just seven days ago i arrived back in nyc. honestly, it's been a totally weird experience. not really knowing how things would pan out, i spent two nights on my friend's couch before moving to an undisclosed apartment in the lower east side (ps - i've been asked not to say the exact location. which i totally respect since i'm living rent free; utilities not included).
now, i feel a bit settled and find myself applying for a multitude of jobs, and exploring
first, it was the world economic forum's global fellowship program - i should stop here and explain this decision - if you don't know the controversy, let me lay out some lines... WEF is criticized for creating programs and projects that in the end hurt more people than they help. WEF is also criticized for creating a global conference - DAVOS - where many backroom conversations foster many more questions than answers. all-in-all, i feel that their work, their programs, and their general perception of life can improve.
while change is not easy, i know we can revolutionize everything we touch. using a bit of WEF's language and looking through the lens of the past seven months, i see a strategic framework that any organization can use. for-profit - not-for-profit - there is a framework for production and equality. without a doubt, i firmly believe in the opportunity to advance the seven topics through research.
also, over the past week, i've also applied to oxford university's research fellowship and Google/YouTube's Non-Profit content manager position. while i have a dwindling set of funds and want to dedicate myself to the long term cultivation of all the things i see - i have just a few short days to make some critical decisions that will impact the next few months and determine the rest of my life...
the first decision - i've decided to help Brian Conelly, from alive in baghdad, to explore the development of a video advocacy organization. this non-profit will be named "alive on earth" and will pull in the best and brightest video talent to understand the sphere of video advocacy and community journalism. ranging from curriculum, open source tools, volunteer translation and consulting - we are casting our nets and thinking about the next 10 to 15 years.
the second decision - i'm going to finally get my hack license. no, it's not some weird provincial ability to pillage bodies from nyc. a hack license will allow me to drive an NYC yellow cab. yup, i'm thinking of becoming a taxi cab driver. while there's a long list of things i have to do and i think the cost of testing, forms and junk will cost me around $1k, i'm writing out a proposal that just might score me a sponsor and get you a camera behind the front seat of a taxi cab! ;)
whoa! if there were two cities that i would call a couple, it would be paris and new york. it absolutely astonishes me to look up and see a crystal clear blue sky, with a subway rubbling the ground beneath my feet and amazingly the most polite people on earth... well except for one short little man who must have separated ways with his identical twin brother... and while one terrorizes the politeness of new york, the other fines his vain in paris.
it's my last full day in paris. it's a monday. the sky is blue and the air a bit crisp. my friend lucia and her roommate are somewhere between barcelona and paris and i have two appointments and one unscheduled stop.
first i run to art-and-you.com to interview mary-noelle - beyond the crazy story that she and i share a mutual friend in nyc and discover that we share a mutual friend of a friend in geneva. mary-noelle and i talk (ie she talks and i record) about how art-and-you.com has yet to "officially" launch but is already becoming a well heeled video staple in the Parisian art community. using the fine video skills of friends, art-and-you offers a unpretentious view of art, the galleries, the styles and all the jazz one would normally spend four or five years studying. too boot, they have an online space for artists to upload images of their work to be critiqued from the global community of nobodies like you and me BUT also notable curators, artists, and people who are blessed with societies' knowledge of art.
now here's the best part and why it ties into the whole coworking tiff. art-and-you just doesn't work online, but they have the necessity for their OWN ART gallery. yeah that's right, they need a physical space for work to be displayed, events to be held, and a location to lasso their community... in my mind, it's not too far from the average plight of a normal startup or independent worker.
btw, they also have a partnership where parisian bars and pubs select from art-and-you's catalogue to add ambiance. if you like what you see online, well just run down the street and see if it suits your fancy. it's amazing that this is this a whole network to educated people in art, where to find art, and also how to collect art! currently, if you go to art-and-you's gallery, you'll find a young collector's pieces and a workshop on how to become an art collector. RAD? yah, i think so. btw, next year they're bringing this program to brooklyn!!
around 12h45, i met with mary-noelle's husband, ludoovic dardenay. sidenote, ludo's business partner in World Zhulu Corporation is in china and with my drupal buddies jacob redding and robert scales, the three will talk about drupal in china at drupalcon 08 in boston... but back to ludo's problem, first here's an excellent example of a modern technogenious. the man is bucking the french trend and working hard to start businesses. yes, that plural. apparently (i only use this word because i no longer have access to the economist report on france's markets and how they prevent startups) france has a major problem in startups. most of this has to do with labor law and taxes and the fact that people are guaranteed employment, healthcare, pensions, etc... you know, all the good things that americans so despearatly want but corperations and governments use the french example to thwart.
so ludo's got three business in the oven - the geek consultancy (aka a drupal development shop), a film production company and a restaurant - oh and he's working on a vineyard (yeah, did i mention he's french?) so ludo's problem is multifold (and i'm not talking about the two cell phones that he carries). ludo needs an insprational center where he can be connected with a community of communities and find other young startups or independents that need complementary services... the reason why he needs this "concierge" service is convoluted and maybe as an american i can just say that it is a french way of doing things. needless to say, the nature of an individual who's as a awesome as ludo no longer needs to toy with some henchmen nor a social networking shite. ludo now has a location in central paris where he can go and suss out problems or clients. the solution - la cantine - it is parisian for coworking.
after our conversation, i ran back to the subway and ran into mary-noelle (she was on her way to a meeting at ludo's office; i'm telling you this couple is mad busy. i was happy to have the few hours i had with them :* ). as my last day in paris, i had to track down the latest development of paris ideal of coworking. two weeks ago, i got a little email reminder that la cantine is open for business.
heading back to the same general direction i came from, i found myself at the same metro stop i exited to meet mary-noelle. nussled down the street from the grand boulevards metro stop, i discovered one of the thousand little side alleys of commerce. wrapped in the dusklating sunlight, i entered under a scaffolding to the ideal of many independent / freelance workers.
behind the store front glass stood none other than christophe. he appeared to be an introductory meeting of some sorts. now christophe is another one of those crazy french guys. it had been seven months since christophe and i last met. then it was a hot summer day and i was running into town and he was running to mediate some labor dispute. over multiple shots of coffee we discussed the future of coworking and his ideals of a location in paris. (see the video)
as i stood in front of the door, i hesitated to enter. i knew once i entered this threshold, i would spend a minimum of a few hours talking to people, asking questions and figuring out what does coworking mean to them. for a second, i thought i could just come back in a few mins... but my heart was racing, beads of sweat were growing. if i didn't know better, i would think this was love at first sight.
it could have been a small mirror that bounced off an upper floor window and onto a plate glass which illuminated the inside... but to me it seemed as if god sneezed light. as i walked through the front door, the cafe erupted in color. orange, green, white and black... (btw, in france black is a god given color.) while my photos provide no justice... the place is a palace
wrapped in projectors, outlets, wifi, and ample desk-space. the 11 day old facility has become a hive of parisian geek culture. according to marie noeline (i kid you not, it's another NOEL!) the space is used every night by geeks wanting to come by, hang out and hive. from drupal to wordpress, from php to ruby, from barcamp mashup to impromptu troubleshooting sessions. la cantine is the place to see and be seen.
as the training wheels are adjusted, cost of the space is variable. since the palace is managed by silicon sentier, a concierge for parisian startups, and there are partnerships with the likes of upgrade, dorkbot, orange labs, fing, city of paris, cap digital - so they are looking to cast their net far and wide. if you have a chance, drop by.
and casting the net far and wide is just what two users of the space are working on... karen and vincent are working on a traveling book series. this is not just about travelers and their stories, but the travels their stories take. if you hop on over to http://traverses-lelivre.com you'll be able to track down copies of a book that feature their own serial number and feature a series of french stories from around the world... sometime this summer, karen and vincent are going to purchase two mules and walk from portugal to the netherlands. too boot, over the summer karen is going to release a series of books she's written and a DVD of her trip where she walked from paris to istanbul and then rode a bike to Jerusalem. awesome, i think so!
with the day waning on, marie noeline found a few more mins for me and we started making lists of what she needs and what resources i knew. we talked about the coworking email list - "work at jelly" - collaborative art conferences - conflux - unconferences and the like... in the end, she kept on saying "what do you want this place to be?" if you're in paris don't pass up this opportunity, you have a free space filled with all the resources the city has to offer.
by the time the sun was below the horizon, my friend lucia came to pick me up. seriously, i felt like a kid at playschool not wanting to leave my new friends... and as lu and i were walking the front door out a group of artists were setting up an interactive floor display. this floor is installed every night for development while the artists hammer on the software... seriously, i almost did turn to my friend and said, "can we stay longer?" but alas, i just made another resolve to find a mechanic to fix my motorboat so i can come back and forth as i please.
ok, now that i look back on the past seven months and i see a about a ba-gillion and one things that i could have done different... but in the end, i'm am more happy now than i ever could have thought. i am at peace with my self and more importantly, i am at peace knowing we have much work ahead.
for those who are planning a similar exploration, i'll warn you... the hardest part of traveling the world is finding balance. it is one thing to absorb, and then there is another to complete work. yes, i do mean work. don't get me wrong, shlepping has it's payoffs but sometimes you'll find it hard to leave the safe confines of an apartment for yet another drive, walk, or exploration of the environment...
now combine that with a active campaign seeking out an angle for good content. if you're like me, after seven months you'll find it quite hard to fit the world inside of a camera, and after having a forest gump running moment, you realize that you're tired of running and you just stop... it gets even harder when you've run out of money, the weather is shitty and you are stuck in houston, tx.
two weeks have passed since the official end of my journey and i find myself at the tail end of my illness, not the subtle illness of a chest cold and/or parisian flu... but at the end of some monumental aliment that took me to the end of the darkened tunnel of love and was rescued through the hospitality of normality.
so for the last two weeks i've been a smooth rock, skipping first from houston, then into NYC - i had to reconnect with my bestest peeps/sleep in my bed, but like a good skip, they sent me sailing across the pond for yet another home coming...
many years ago when i concocted this crazy idea, i drunkly called up my airline miles and planned a little adventure to a small little city in switzerland. with the little money i had, i purchased a conference ticket and then scouted out ways to stay for free... at the advice of a friend, i found couchsurfing.com and a little technology convergence titled LIFT.
three years later, i'm on LIFT's main stage spewing my crazy idea of my global journey, hugging the world, meeting new friends and still couchsurfing.
now, for the past week and a half i've been in paris bouncing from a friend's couch (the ex-girlfriend who sent me on this journey), picking up the parisian bug, aka the illness (and when i mean illness i mean the desire to live here and i also mean a serious cold), then bouncing into the lovely arms of Dr Miggy whom i met in houston (and was making her first international voyage), and back on to my friend's couch.
during this time (that being the seven months on the road) i've languished in writing, detailing photos, and videos......and i'm just now realizing that only a third of the story is public. luckily, now that the trip is over i don't have to worry about new content, i just have to find a job and series of NYC couches to hold me off for a month... (more to come later)
so now that this journey is physically ending, i'm not gonna worry too much about NEW content. NOW the focus starts on the stories yet to be told... the 50 some odd hours of video a massed. the hundreds of pages scribbled here and there. the thousands of over exposed / underexposed photos that tell more about the people than the places... frankly, the more i think about it, the more it excites me. i now get to relive the journey from the lenses of my self, i now can be the spectator of the adventure i took, and you get to join me!
so seeing how i still haven't found an employer, i can take the liberty to say that i'm going to follow my heart and relaunch this project and look for funding on using following framework... on 07/07/08, i'll reboot the vlog and start all over again giving you weekly episodic content that combines what happened "a year ago" and what's happening now with the movie / book / luck of seven strategic framework (btw, i'm going to crystallize the seven topics into a new cagey / guru need not apply / corporate physiotherapy / "hey look, the geeks at the front of the classroom have social skilz and we're going to harvest an evolution" / < insert your witty t-shirt catch phrase here>)... so in a year's time frame (marchish 2008) all of this should parlay itself into the release of a documentary film...
just so you don't think that this is your uncle's wacky disneyland adventure where you're force fed sugar and told to sit still, this documentary will feature many "call outs" for content... for example, i want a really cool hand drawing video (a-la, make mag's weekend projects / four eyed monster) that sketches the world and colors the continents as i bounced or special effects, etc, etc, etc... in other words, a number of tasks that allow you to help fill-in the kernels of content that i can't pay to produce, nor know how....
long story short, the story is just beginning... below i've selected a few photos that since i last uploaded photos on my last day in ushuaia.
microphone photo by hiddedevries
i now have four speaking engagements lined up...
new york city, usa
2 feb 2008 - as detailed in yesterday's post, starting at 5pm (18h00) i'll be talking into a bottomless barrel of booze. (facebook event info) you are all invited to help me conclude seven months around the world! if you can't make it, buy me a virtual beer and contribute!
6 through 8 feb 2008 - i'll be at the LIFT conference pipping out the merits of free culture and the global empowerment. while i will be giving a five minuet speech, i'll also be giving a three hour workshop! (don't think i'm wealthy, i'm working barback at this conference. i still have $700 to fundraise, help a bro out?)
new york city, usa
5 march 2008 - dorkbot nyc, location one, soho, @ 7pm - my buddy douglas found an opportunity for my goods to be shown in-front of nyc's largest geek community! (meetup is for nurds, dorkbot is for geeks! this is all tung and cheek, we'all b family!)
15 - 16 march 2008 - barcamp nyc 3. without a doubt i'll be presenting something...
not an alternative, brooklyn, ny - upon my return in late feb, we're talkin an evening conversation with drinks, DJ's, and a chariot with seven horsemen... ;)
i'd love to crash SXSW interactive or the film segment. then again, so would the rest of the world... if you think i'm worthy. please bless me with your grace.
if you have a class or community group that would be interested in having me connect via the tubes, i'd love to connect the dots.
photo from punkjr on flickr
item #1, advice from my father.
today, i received a few inspirational notes from my father... while i know they are a bit muffled in verse, i was able to hear the sweet tone of loving comfort. let me hum a few bars...
"don't stop thinking about tomorrow. don't stop it'll soon be here. It'll be better than before. why not think about times to come, and about the things that you've done..."
yes, sometimes it's hard to distinguish between my father and fleetwood mac...
the past year has taught me more lessons than i could have possibly dreamed. those dreams found people who not only believed in exploration, but believed that collectively we can accomplish our dreams. though every hello, hug or heaping plate of food, we did it. collectively we've explored the internet world, but we're not done yet.
now i find myself in a precarious position. every night, i dream about the places i've been and the things i've done. painfully, i roll and roll debating endlessly what's the best way to engage the world within this dream, and how to make a living. i checked my bank account and only found $75... but more on that later...
so now, here i am back in america trying to understand everything i've done and make sense of where i'd like to see the world... honestly, it's stressful carving out a grandiose vision of the future based on seven short months. any-who, so work for the children's book presses on...
item #2, my nyc return.
after thinking that i should call my good buddy jonathan, i carelessly blasted out an email routing people to a bar which in perfect pursuit of happiness should be at the end of places to experience in brooklyn. don't get me wrong, it's not a bad place... it's just a better place to end the night. in lew of this miss judgement, jonathan and i are crafting a triumphant return to brooklyn. (btw, you might remember jonathan as the partner of val; the two glorious hosts at the start of the journey...)
yeah, so i'm returning to NEW YORK CITY on saturday, FEB 2nd at 3pm (15h00). well, that's when my plane lands... i'll then find my way onto the subway, down the long corridors of the MTA and then into the arms of a few friends. while i'm jazzing my way back to billyburg, i need you to grab your camera and some ridiculous looking outfit and make your way to the hipster capital of the world.
starting at 5pm (18h00) you are invited to meet me at 303 bedford ave, brooklyn, ny. the bar is/was called wells, but don't worry about a thing. we're commandeering the sound system and maybe brute forcing a discount (thats'a joke, jon is a bartender and we might get a sweet deal if enough people show up). afterward, we'll saunter over to IONA and then over to the keystone bar of the night, SPUYTEN DUYVIL.
item #3, the future as mentioned in the past.
as my around the world journey ends, a new one begins. i am so poor you won't believe how poor i am. over the past two months i've spent less that $600 USD to get by. for the past month, i've been beggin for handouts and frothing at the mouth for free food. i've max'd out my only credit card (actually i owe them $800 in late charges). i've got $75 bucks in my checking account, and $8 dollars in my wallet.
if you look at my ticker, i still have $700 USD to fundraise (which won't even cover my credit cards, but i've called them and they "kinda understand")... and if the phone call from my roommate is any indication my housing situation, i'm gonna need to kick in close to $900 in rent...
so what does this mean to you, the reader... well, one thing... my life has taught me to follow my heart and build on what i've learned. next week, when i land in a foreign country without a euro in my pocket, i will proudly stand in front of some of the world's smartest and extoll tales of our journey together. (for you geeks out there, LIFT is like TED but for normal people.)
if you haven't pre-purchased a copy of the luck of seven children's book, i hope you consider contributing $11.11 USD. if 70 people purchase a copy, i won't ask for another cent... (that's until i start the mel brooks swag campaign) if you've contributed and can contribute a little more, that would be awesome! thank you for making dreams come true!
a big thanks to the most recent contributors - KUSHTRIM XHAKLI, Megumi Nishikura, and Joe Vieira.
(btw, i'm also need a job, if you know of anyone who's looking for a well skilled student of new media, send them my resume...)
the past two days contain three ingredients - 1 tablespoon of all day encoding and editing - 1 750 cml of Argentinean wine - 2/3 victory in backgammon. as i sit, edit, and play, i am working hard to catch up on video editing. even after my scratch drive reformat, it seems that i'm filling 200 gig drives faster than i can "zadi snap" my fingers. through it all, i'm catching up on emails and poking around online for brazilian contacts.
painfully, the next few videos are more emotional than i've expected. i never would have thought that at the end of the world i would tear my soul and pour on to tape the uncertainty of life.
as my last month spins, i am at a very important crossroad. this is more important than when i started. (which you will see in two videos from now...) not only am i looking to complete the goals that i set out 12 months ago, but i am now in need of employment and shelter from the storm of poverty. my credit card bills have piled up. my roommate emailed me that my sub-let is moving out and nether she nor i can afford the apartment on our own.
while the head hits the tape, i see a few options. as an election year, i can turn to the old guard and seek my thirst on the campaign trail, OR i can do something REALLY crazy. this craziness involves turning the sum of the past 12 months, the tools and hard lessons learned into something that empowers others to do the same.
i have one simple crux. i see an intertwined world of overwhelming complexity. i see issues, arguments, problems, and overlapping thoughts. at the same time, i do not see myself cutting out one issue to fill my fix of empowering others. i do not see a single singularity, nor do i have the funds to continue. i must not give up on helping others to make our world a better place, but i must also find employment.
i've been looking at executive level positions with witness and league of young voters, but i need more options than just these two. if you know of any jobs that could use a suave boy like me, please send out a contact... my ears are open.
feeling a bit down on my antarctic prospects, sebastian and rasta max hooked me up with a small barter. for 8 hours i would be forced to sit in the front seat of a land rover to video one of ushuaia's best 4 x 4 tours. running around in the back woods, nunatak adventure took us to the hinterlands of lake escondido for fun, sun, an amazing kickin BBQ and a whole lot of splish splashing.
if you click on the roundabout, you'll find a boatload of photos from new years...
From the morning by nick drake
Recoded: 19 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: flickr, blogger, photohunt, traveler, end of the earth, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven, antarctica, adventure
Music: The Pink Panther Theme - Henry Mancini
About: after being kidnapped by south american aliens and fighting off the torrential downpour of ushuaia, i found a fellow north american for a little photo hunt. for day 4, julie jira (flickr) and i kicked around town discovering the end of the world (flickr photos or slideshow).
(click on your favorite unfocused smile to see more photos from my time in houston. the back story to this photo is fairly remarkable. i walked into the Brazilian consulate and discovered that i had forgotten my headshots. with a point to the closest CVS over a mile and a half away, i knew that i'd never make it there and back before the visa window would close. as a buckeye, i knew microcenter as one of the first computer super stores to have fully functional products on display. located two blocks from the consulate, it was serendipity. with a quick "hello, i'm a geek traveling around the world..." mike from the printer section "demonstrated" the printer's ability to print out photos. in less than 15 mins, i was back at the console. THANK YOU MY GEEK BUDDY! YOUR RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS SAVED MY ASS!)
today marks my fourth day in houston, tx and i already feel at home. i must thank erica o'grady, matthew wettergreen, michelle calabretta, patrick and christina kwiatkowski and the mike from microcenter. like a long distance runner, i can feel the weight of every step. i know that this run, no matter how long i'd like to extend it, must end; ever step brings me closer to the finish line. yet, somewhere over the oceans of humanity, i know what i've set out to accomplish will never end. the final jaunt between houston and new york lies the sprint of a lifetime.
while my houston adventure is shaping to involve debauchery, religious, intellectual, artistic, spiritual, social and technological adventures... my psychosis is carefully balanced between the fine line of editing 15 hours of footage and planning out the last two exploratory months.
it's important to note that the next few steps are extremely important. while my travel funds are running on fumes, i still need to balance the acquisition of tickets with the need of cash to pay for these tickets. after much research and soul searching, there are two goals i must achieve
- visit antarctica
- interview the largest open source community in south america (aka brazil)
i'm tossing in argentina for a bunch of historical, logistical, political, and coworking reasons. if you're in buenos aries, you now have a coworking facility to visit - check out Cowork Central. i know i'll be looking forward to my time.
the following is a sampling of events and/or interviews i'm looking to achieve.
Dec 15th - Jan 11, Ushwaia, Argentina
- start my hitch hike to antarctica
- christmas and new years at the bottom of the world
- interview couchsurfers
Jan 12, Buenos Aries, Argentina
- back for a night / layover
Jan 13 - 27, Sao Paulo, Brazil
- Andre Avorio, barcamp & open source evangelist.
- citizen journalists
- potentially mozy on over to brazilla or Rio to interview a bunch of government officials / business owners who use open source. (i still need contacts!!!)
Jan 28, Buenos Aries, Argentina
- one last night in Buenos Aries / layover
Jan 29, New York City, USA
- arrive in my home city and couch surf for a week before traveling to an undisclosed location to present my findings.
if you know of someone who has a couch to spare, shoot me a line...
if you're in any one of these areas and would like to meet up. please, contact me...
if you know of any cool organizations that would augment this global documentary, shoot me a line...
if you have access to a government official or educators who promote open source, hook me up...
(this awesome photo is from flickr user leppre - check out frosty sunrise 2 in full detail!)
a week in ohio has brought about an level of personal intimacy that i wouldn't have found any where else. with less funds than i need, i've sprawled out on my childhood bed spending countless hours planning the next four months. between east coast offers of a roving camera man & thoughts of giving up, i find myself in a precarious position.
my life in ohio is simple. my life on the east coast seems extravagant. this journey around the world seems extraordinary. yet, i still look in the mirror every morning and see the same short bearded face. when i look down, i see the same small hands. with a warn out seat, my pants are five years too told. my socks holy. my back, feet, arms and legs feel the burden of the world.
my 29 years on this planet have been extraordinary. it's taken me quite a while to truly understand the detachment my parents gave me. growing up in the last decade of the cold war, in a small bedroom community of a military base, i was exposed to a world far beyond the reach of the three creeks that surrounded my suburban ohio house.
the journey from california to ohio is normal, a loving military couple moves to maximize wealth and opportunity to provide for themselves and their young sapling. a few years later, another young sapling comes along. all the while, the two work endlessly to teach their children of the family tree and the world's forests.
as the older sapling grows, the world takes it toll - accidents, fires, health issues, etc... but eventually the sapling realizes that the world's forest are massive. as he grows, he hears things that don't make any cense. he reads things that seem to have no tangible relationship to the world he lives in. yet, for some reason these stories are the notable stories - for some reason, these stories are the constitution of public discourse.
confuse by their importance and lusting after a deeper meaning - not all of these stores are lost. this young sapling knows that his forest and all the animals that inhabit the surrounding area must be similar to the one he reads.... they must be similar to all the stories he's been told... to all the stories he's dreamt... and with a slight hand of a shovel, he packs his roots, loads up an old VW van and departs to visit the forest beyond.
from the forests out east he sees an urban forest where trees are valued but not harvested. up and down the american coast he finds others who seek a grander meaning from sea to shining sea. across the sea, older sapling and taller trees that seek a similar exploration. across the world the sapling sees the stories, views first hand and oogles images of forests far and beyond - locations with out a single tree in sight - vast beaches of stubborn shrubs rooted on tiny rocks - vast urbanities where all trees have been removed...
all in all, after countless accidents, fires, health issues, loves and losts... returns to his original forest for a feast. like the year before and like any year after, the feast is more like any other family's... filled with it's unique quirkiness and unbeholden to any austere tradition - this family sits around revels in each other's stories, branches and quirks for a specialty ordered feast.
within a few days, this sapling once again departs into the unknown. this sapling has done it before. he's traveled the paths, climbed the rocks, trolled along the beaches and buried his head in the sand a few times. off in the distance there is a mountain, paths to the top are unknown, unproven and most fo the time unrewarding to anyone but itself.
beneath the ground, this sapling sees roots of many colors, shapes, sizes, from a million and one time zones. this sapling knows the roots are strong, healthy and ready to spring forth a new alternative ecosystem based on healthier soil.
while this sapling doesn't quite know his own destination, height or width - he's grown to know the trees, valleys and streems. he knows the glory of unity, the power of diversity, and the love of the world. he knows that he couldn't have done it without the unflinching support of a global family firmly rooted in passion.
thank you. blessing be with us all.