Vignettes from Minneapolis

8/28/22

Wow. Tonight I board the train to Seattle! I cannot believe I’m already returning to the Northwest… and before you know it, I’ll be passing through Portland again, a year after I departed. Very surreal.

But I’m not done with my loop yet!

And my time in Minneapolis has been magical as well.

I got a chance to spend some lovely time here with Nate and Paula and their cheerful and creative 3-year-old daughter, and their house has been comfortable and full of great conversation during my stay here.

I also got to reconnect with my friend Vika, who is originally from Minneapolis but spent 13 years in Portland, during which time I met her when we both were helping to teach Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to prisoners at the Oregon State Penitentiary, Oregon’s only maximum-security prison.

Vika departed Portland to move back here just one day before I departed on my journey, back in September. We connected here the other day for a picnic and “magical meeting” at Lake of the Isles, at sunset. Vika does wonderfully inspiring work in the world; our life missions are very aligned. You can take a look at her work at www.thrivingworldproject.org.

We talked about my idea of fairy godfunding, among many other topics that inspire us both. (She has piqued my interest in checking out Human Design, which I’ve been curious about but don’t know much yet.)

The next night, she introduced me to her friends Tom and Ranja, who served us a wonderful homemade vegan burrito-bar meal at their home in the Minneapolis suburbs. Tom is a retired engineer, and he is a wizard with bicycles. He recently purchased an e-bike, and he is designing a sort of cover for it to protect the rider from some of the elements. He is using corrugated plastic and aluminum to build a sort of windshield and canopy.

He also has some flexible solar panels, which he hopes to integrate with the design so that the bike’s battery can be charged by the sun while the rider is in motion. So cool!

Another of his projects is an amphibious bike, which he can pedal directly into the lake behind his house, where the pedaling then powers a water wheel at the back of the bike. Plastic barrels on the front and rear fold down to provide flotation.

And perhaps most excitingly, he has recently built a 105-lb trailer for the e-bike, out of the same heavy corrugated plastic. The trailer folds up to be towed behind the bike, and then it can unfold to provide both storage and shelter, including a sleeping space, when at “camp.” It’s such an exciting thing to imagine in use!

Then today, I got to attend a biweekly “Plant Based Popup” event with my hosts. We got some delicious homemade savory and sweet treats there, including some wonderful tacos from a cargo-bike-powered stand (by an entrepreneur who used to run a vegan food cart in Portland called Pyro Pizza!) and an incredibly decadent s’mores cookie.

While there, I also met up with my Facebook friend Donovan. We only got to talk for a brief while, but he seems to have led a fascinating life so far, and I’m curious to learn more about his passions of human health and environmental responsibility, as well as the interesting ways he uses his skills and creativity to bring about good in the world.

That’s what my journey is about: meeting these fascinating folks, picking their brains (and inviting them to pick mine) and connecting them with others wherever possible. (For example, Donovan may be able to make some bicycle recommendations to Nate and Paula, who are in the market, while Vika might be able to help them sell some extra plants they have in the yard. I love these synergies!)

Other things I have enjoyed during my time here: going to a vegan “chicken” restaurant (run by The Herbivorous Butcher, based here in the Twin Cities) and a vegan boutique, visiting George Floyd Square (less than a mile from my hosts’ house, in a residential neighborhood) and enjoying some incredibly fluffy homemade blueberry-chocolate-chip pancakes, courtesy of Paula’s cast-iron wizardry!

I love this place and its people. I look forward to returning sometime.

Now, I’m off to two full nights on the train. Sadly, I will be skipping my planned stop in Glacier National Park (the timing isn’t quite right this time) but I will enjoy rolling through it. And in the late morning of Tuesday the 30th, I will be reunited with my sister and her partner in Seattle, whom I last saw in person last July, more than a year ago!

This will probably be my last post for a couple of days, since internet access is very spotty on long-distance trains. But when you next hear from me, I will be in the Northwest!

Surreal.

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