The creative process isn’t always tidy. My office certainly isn’t. Nor is my handwriting.

I’ll often vision about project ideas and future plans on a scrap of paper. I’ll tape rough notes to my office wall and see how they hold up over time. Some of them never happen. Others could not be stopped if you tried.

As I struggled through packing up 20 years of photo memories in my office, I came across this note, imagining what my third book might look like. My own story of encountering difference and finding beauty and connection. This rough idea has been on my wall for five years and is just now winding its way through the editing process at Broadleaf books to be published later on in 2021.

It’s going to look different than I first expected. The best ideas mature and evolve over time, like I hope we do. But I can recognize the bones of it as I peel the blue tape off the walls and place it in a box labeled, “ideas.” It was a great place to start.

And so it is with Cry Out. The basic idea took shape just two months ago, a response to the pandemic and the sudden power of George Floyd’s death in our own back yard. Now as we loosen our ties to the home base we have known for two decades, we are convinced this new series of stories will be some of the most powerful and important work we have ever done.

The exact path will continue to evolve, but we have been overwhelmed by the response to our campaign so far, and we are all in. Even as I can’t be certain exactly what the end result will look like or precisely the route we will follow, I know that it will be a rich journey of discovery and we will amplify important stories that need to be heard, all with the grace and gratitude that have become a part of A Peace of My Mind.

Here’s the rough journey that’s shaping up. Don’t hold me to it, as some leads don’t get realized and at times serendipity has better plans than we can even imagine, but we are putting the puzzle pieces together for an arc that looks a little like this:

In September we will sell the house, transition into a 28-foot trailer and say Tókša akhé to our friends.  It’s a Lakota phrase that means “Later, again.” Much better than goodbye.

October will be spent in West Virginia for a robust community project rooted in resilience and we will explore issues of rural poverty as well.

November, we will return to the Midwest to harvest our Christmas trees. (if you don’t know anything about this, it’s a long story. We’ll save that for another day.)

I’m hoping December will be in Oklahoma to do stories among the five tribes who were relocated there through the Trail of Tears. A recent supreme court ruling upheld their sovereignty in the eastern half of the state

Holidays with the family. We’ll have to learn how to winterize the trailer.

January along our southern border, exploring issues of immigration with the immigrants, themselves.

And in February, moving into the deep south of Alabama and Mississippi to explore ongoing issues of race and if I’m really lucky, do some work with the Equal Justice Initiative in Birmingham around mass incarceration.

Currently, that’s where our money will likely run out. But there will be more stories to tell. Stories of environmental justice in Flint, Michigan. Eco-theology. Sustainability. Urban violence, PTSD in veterans. Water rights in the southwest. Gender identity, gender inequality, interfaith dialogue, increased partisanship and rising intolerance.

This is not overnight solution kind of work. This is lifetime work. And we will have to dig a little deeper, get creative and find a broader base of support to make it happen.

So far, we have 265 people backing our campaign. That’s stunning and humbling and I am grateful for every single person who has lifted this project up. Friends and family. High school buddies. Professional colleagues. College students.  We’ve had donations from $5 to $2,000 and each one has moved us toward our goal.

Today, with 9 days left in the campaign, I want to ask a favor of everyone who has given (and I’m grateful for each and every one of you.) Find a friend. Explain why you supported A Peace of My mid and ask if they will do the same.

Each one reach one.

If it’s ten bucks a piece, we will get an extra couple weeks on the road. If it’s more, we can DO more. It’s that simple.

A Peace of My Mind is what it is because of you. Thank you. Let’s see what we can do together. Each one reach one. I’ll hold my breath, cross my fingers and say a prayer. And then get ready to do the hard work. We are going to do everything we can to turn this into something beautiful.

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