It is invigorating and terrifying to begin uprooting and relinquish a stable life here in the Default World. According to my city friends, these past 4 years tucked up into the Colorado Rockies, hiking, biking, skiing, and otherwise adventuring hardly counts as such but it is about as much civilization as I can handle.
I am most deeply struck by the love and support of friends and community. My tribe, near and far. In 29 years of travel I have come to appreciate that people make the experience. Ergo one of the main causes of sadness in leaving, is a major piece of what draws me toward this hike. The ying and yang of it. Sad to leave those with whom I have built a connection; enthusiastic to broaden that net, learn new stories, and share with each of you.
Several have asked how and offered support for our travel and living expenses. Will kick off a fundraiser in the next month but those platforms usually keep around 10% of the contributions so I have been stalling. Until that time, there is a link to my PayPal account on the right of this page.
One particularly thought provoking source of new perspectives and information has been the book Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Its language and compelling stories give the words and studies to begin to grasp the breadth and depth of the effects on cultures of oppressing women and elucidates the benefits of empowering us.
As they emphasize in the introduction to the book:
So let us be clear about this upfront: We hope to recruit you to join an incipient movement to emancipate women and fight global poverty by unlocking women’s power as economic catalysts. That is the process underway– not a drama of victimization but of empowerment. . .
I could not have identified it at the time but even as a child growing up in Ecuador, Chile, and the Dominican Republic, I knew I had opportunities which my playmates did not. I was told, “you can do whatever you want in and for this great wide world.” They were not.
In the impoverished community surrounding our mission in the Dominican Republic, when I learned my grandmother was dying in Minnesota, it was the mothers who came out early in the morning as I tugged a red wagon through the alleys selling fruit from our back yard to pay for a flight home to see her one last time.
Where many of them may never even dream of leaving that island, they supported me in doing so.
This has stayed with me.
For years I have yearned for the opportunity to return to those countries on my own terms and to bear witness through the eyes of a woman and share a message of audacious self actualization. We seek to do this by listening and validating their experiences and, where we can, connecting them with resources.
Pieces fall into place in an extraordinary way. Just as I feel at the end of my rope or truly baffle at where even to begin a piece of this project, serendipity steps in. For example, how I came upon this book. It was mentioned by an intern at the FIRC a few weeks ago during a passing conversation. I expressed interest, she ran across the street to the home of the owner of my favorite and very Eco-conscientious local coffee shop, Red Buffalo Cafe, and returned a few minutes later with it in hand. This book ignites a spark.
Could I walk across the Americas without anyone’s help? No.
Could I do it without public support? Probably.
Can we amplify the message and make the world a better place if I DO ask for help and we all get involved? Yes, absolutely we can.
We begin to make connections, finding organizations focused on providing women education and micro-loans specific to the areas through which we travel. We will highlight these organizations and their efforts on our websites and, where possible, make on the ground connections with participants to better share their experiences. In this endeavour, we are thrilled to have Brianne Snow as Non-profit Support Coordinator.
This community minded momma will help keep our FaceBook site flush with information on the worthy and vetted organizations focused on Women’s Empowerment and will keep contact with benefiting organizations along the way to facilitate financial support to those organizations and keep you all abreast.
I encourage you to follow this blog, ‘like’ our FaceBook Page to keep up as we introduce you to the team, share the planning which goes into such an undertaking and then on November 4th, when Neon and I head to the Southern hemisphere. We will both keep and share accounts along the hike itself.
At this stage, any information or experiences are helpful as we construct this project and it can only be improved by your participation, so please, share!