The other day I shared that I had, somewhat unexpectedly at this juncture, found myself back in the cactus garden in Balboa Park. That place is one of my favorite on Earth. It feels sacred and very resonant to me. When I visit San Diego, I always make a point to visit there at least once, and to sit for a while on one of the benches and sink into myself, observe my current life circumstances, and feel into where I might like to make changes or shift gears in my life.
When I arrived the other day, I had been feeling a bit out of sorts for a few days. I am about six weeks into this yearlong journey right now, and I have had a dizzying array of experiences, most of which have been thoroughly delightful. That was one of my biggest intentions for this trip: to optimize all aspects of my life as much as I possibly could. To know what brings me joy and pleasure, and to very actively and skillfully pursue it:
I know that I love temperate, sunny weather; beautiful natural places; riding my bike and on trains; meeting new people; connecting with friends and family in person; and enjoying all the locally made vegan meals and chocolatey treats I can find. This trip is like a paradise in all these ways.
And yet… I have been starting to feel that something is missing. I am needing to do more to fulfill my need to contribute. Another key part of my original intention—my mission—for this journey was to bring my presence and consciousness to bear on the problems of the world. I was seeking to connect with inspiring people, to learn about their own ideas, and their own work, toward solutions. I wish to learn about these various solutions, and to make a “mental map” of who is working on what, where. I also intend to offer my own emotional and/or strategic support to those people doing the ideation and the work. This is my favorite way of contributing to the collective. One part of that, which I really enjoy, is using my mental map to connect like-minded people with each other, for possible strategic collaborations and/or “fairy godfunding” of great ideas and projects.
Alongside all the wonderful experiences I’ve had so far, and shared here on my blog, I have also been witness to many problems. Among these are rampant homelessness; trash and vandalism of urban and natural spaces; many aspects of colonialism and the harms it has done to many marginalized communities; indicators of climate change such as droughts, fires, and wildly unpredictable and unusual weather conditions; rampant/excessive use of internal-combustion transportation technology, which brings congestion and human frustration as well as untold environmental destruction and community disruption via land use decisions that favor single-occupancy autos; and staggering amounts of solid waste, including single-use plastic.
These are just some of the problems I have seen and felt.
As I continue to stay connected to many people—both known and unknown to me—via social media, I also hear continual refrains of loneliness, as well, from people in all sorts of different life situations. Loneliness, discord, political antagonism, and lack of nourishing human connections are a modern-day plague (alongside the literal plague of COVID, which has exacerbated these problems in a variety of ways.)
We need solutions.
We really, really need a lot of solutions, to a lot of problems.
This is my work in the world.
I do my best to live in accordance with the kind of world I would like to see: minimizing my own auto/internal-combustion-engine use, minimizing my resource use and solid waste, minimizing human and animal exploitation in various ways, treating others with care and respect to the best of my abilities… and so on.
I’m not perfect, by any means. I continue to play a part in these problems.
But I do my best.
And, at the same time, my individual actions pale next to the enormity of these national and global concerns.
I still believe, as I wrote at the beginning of this journey, that my strongest gifts in this world are those of holding a vision for a better world, and doing my best to offer emotional and strategic support to those who are on the front lines of envisioning and/or bringing about this better world.
I haven’t connected yet with as many of those folks as I had hoped to. I want to increase my efforts. And, I want to enlist your help!
As I prepare to begin my bike loop of the US in earnest from northern California around November 1st (my October “southwest rail spur” having wrapped up by then) I want to redouble my efforts to have regular conversations with the people around the US (and/or Canada, and/or anywhere else in the world… but especially those along my route) who are engaged in thinking about these problems, and/or actively pursuing solutions.
Do you know people (or organizations) like that? People I could perhaps meet up with in my travels? I’m very open to phone or video chats as well—especially for those outside of my route—but I like the idea of meeting in person with people, seeing their physical efforts, etc. One great example of this was when I visited and toured the Earthships in Taos, New Mexico a few weeks ago. I’m also looking forward to meeting a really cool couple near Dallas, Texas who are working on solving many social and environmental problems in the world.
I dream of connecting with the sorts of visionaries I admire, such as South American city leaders like Enrique Penalosa, former mayor of Bogota, Colombia, or (the late) Jaime Lerner of Curitiba, Brazil. People like Conrad Wagner, of Mobility CarSharing Switzerland. Or Gil Penalosa, in Toronto, Canada (Enrique’s brother, who works as a global consultant on building vibrant communities). Or Daniel Suelo, “the man who quit money,” who spent years living in a cave outside Moab, Utah, and whose story has inspired many. Or Dr. John Francis, the “Planetwalker,” who didn’t drive or even ride in any motorized transport for 33 years, and who walked across the United States, connecting with and inspiring and teaching people all along the way.
I actually have met a couple of these folks already. (Shoutout to Conrad and Daniel, the latter of whom I recently “met” on Facebook.) I want to meet more!
I want to be like the Paul Erdos of planetary solutions, traveling the country by bike and train, staying with and/or supporting or collaborating with folks who are working on humanity’s thorny problems of the day.
Do you know people like these? Could you introduce us?
People have asked me for an itinerary of where I’m going. I think it would take too much space to list out all the cities, but you can see the general map in the photo. I plan to visit most major cities (and some small towns) along this map. If you know of inspirational people like this who would like to host me for a night or two, that would be a bonus—and would probably allow for more in-depth conversations—but hosting is not necessary, since I’m making extensive use of Warmshowers, Servas, and friend/friend-of-friend networks to find lodging. I am generally spending two nights and one full day in each locale, so that is enough time to meet for coffee or a nature walk or a tour of someone’s local project.
People have also suggested that I use video on this trip. This intimidates me, and I’m not sure I’m ready for it yet, but at some point, perhaps I could add video interviews or “news segments” of these inspiring people and their work to my journey. I want to share with a wider audience the work of inspiring people, and to help connect them with each other.
Thanks to everyone reading this. This journey is a collaboration, and I deeply appreciate all of your support!
Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!
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Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)