We are settling into a new rhythm.
It’s hard to think of compiling a 2022 recap without it turning into a review of this entire journey. As we come off the road, there’s a lot of processing to do. A lot of planning. A lot of adjusting.
With all the questions swirling about, I am equal parts eager for some clarity and patient for it all to unfold. There are lots of plans in the works but the why and the how and the when of it will take some time to sort out. So, instead of a neat and tidy narrative, I’ll offer you a cluster of bullet points of our current status and future plans, as that’s the way my mind is working at the moment.
-After 800 days and 93,000 miles on the road, we are choosing winter to settle back in the Minneapolis area for a season. Go figure. 😉
-I fully understood and recognized that getting on the road full-time was going to be a logistics challenge. It’s been a little more surprising to me the work involved in finding a place and getting rooted again.
-We are going to keep Vinny for future travel (because there will still be plenty of travel), but we will no longer live full-time in the van.
-We have a string of house sitting opportunities that will get us to March or so, and then we plan to rent an apartment, because we are a little unsure of how long we will stay rooted and buying something right now (given the current market and our fluid plans) doesn’t make sense. Deeply grateful to all the good folks who are housing us for short and long stays as we wait for the right apartment to open up.
-Around the middle of this year, programming started returning to pre-pandemic levels. It trickled in through spring and summer and had us running hard and fast by the fall. It feels good to be in person with folks again. In 2022 we engaged with more than two dozen venues through in-person or virtual programming, we installed our exhibits in ten communities across the country and we led twenty studio sessions with a total of more than 1,000 participants.
-We conducted dozens of new long-form interviews that we continue to share out through our website, podcast and social media and we experimented with video programming to engage in places I wasn’t able to go in person.
-High on the list of priorities for 2023 will be producing a new exhibit and writing a new book to share the journey of the past two years and use the stories to lead dialogue and develop social capacity to bridge divides and build community. It’s going to take time, but I’ve been working through some visioning exercises with a designer friend and with our board and I’m excited about what is developing.
-2023 is already shaping up to be a busy programming year, so there will still be plenty of time on the road, we’ll just return to a home base between engagements.
-I am honored to be one of 20 people who were invited to join the Weave community’s new speakers bureau. Weave: The Social Fabric Project is a part of the Aspen Institute and is focused on building community connections and amplifying voices of people who are making a difference (pretty good fit, eh?) As a part of this first cohort, I am excited to grow our relationship with Weave and use this platform to speak at venues across the country on how we can build stronger community connections and reweave the social trust that has frayed in our country.
The great irony of the past two years is that we have been exploring ideas of community, yet we have missed being a part of one ourselves. There is a camaraderie of travelers on the road and we’ve loved that. We have new connections in every corner of this country and we are honored, humbled and a little gobsmacked at the places we have been welcomed into and the warm embrace of strangers who so quickly became friends. And we had the joy of reconnecting with old friends who are spread across the land.
There is a sense on the road that things are impermanent. You learn to appreciate the moments you are in and you become accustomed to the ever-present rhythm of saying hello and letting go as you say goodbye again. After more than two years on the road, I feel like I belong everywhere, but somehow I belong nowhere, too.
That tells me it’s time to be in community again. So, even as I already miss life on the road, I am glad to be reconnecting with friends in our old haunts. Strengthening relationships and growing some deeper roots. I feel like I just might walk into a coffee shop and see someone I know. Won’t that be a treat?!
Life doesn’t happen in a straight line. But it’s on the journey that we learn and grow and understand the world in new ways. This vagabond life has been an amazing season, but we are glad that the road has led us back home.