Although our physical journey ended as abruptly as it started, it feels time to tie some ends together allowing the larger ideas to surface. With the ladies each touching down at their home base, providing a few days for rest and reflection, we now are ready to present you with our final thoughts on our summer tour that covered over 5,000 miles and a lifetime of experiences.
It was a dear friend and adventurer that welcomed us onto his land and greeted us with champagne accompanied by locally made cheese and crackers as we watched the sunset in Boone, NC. He described the sunset as a beautiful painting, explaining that no one is the same at the end of the day as they are in the beginning. We watched the massive golden orb disappear behind rows of misty blue mountains. Thinking back on this description of the sunset, we are reminded that, like those sunsets, each person we have met, place we have seen, and experience we have had over the past two months has created a masterpiece of its own. While not everything that was planned was executed, everything that was meant to happen, did.
So what is our specific intention? Where is this movement we keep referring to taking us? For us, the intention behind this trip was partake in an exploration of food, culture and community. We were looking for what drives local community resilience, particularly stemming from local food movements, and the different manifestations of this along our route. We have discovered that food production and cultivation is not only a job, but also a lifestyle. Those that choose to involve themselves directly in what physically fuels them tend to live more grounded lives, rooted in the understanding that we are truly what we eat as well as what we intend. It is common for these types of individuals to surround themselves with people who are creating & producing in many different ways; thus communities of free thinkers bloom. We hope you have your own ideas about what drives your passion for food and community, and encourage you to discuss them.
Now, inspired by the variety of programs, organizations, and communities out there doing important work, we are beginning to feel peace of mind in knowing that there are so many spaces to plug in and learn. There are countless people to collaborate with as well, and living life with a positive & intentional outlook makes it seem like anything is possible.
By spending time with these food-lovin’ ladies and forming a small community of our own, we have learned a lot about what living in an intentional community might be like. We continuously and consciously provided space and stability for each other in order to facilitate personal growth, and in doing so we learned a lot about our processes as individuals. That personal growth occurred because of a greater foundation, a shared belief we carried in our “compact car community.” There is an importance in recognizing how vulnerability brings people together both in empathy and in compassion, which directly moved us toward setting aside our egos and looking together in a shared direction. This experience felt like an endless one, living and moving toward the future alongside fellow humans.
There are so many people doing crucial things on this planet at the moment and we are all so lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of such a diverse movement. There is still a lot that needs to happen; on average, less than 2% of food consumed in rather progressive areas (Eugene, OR, Asheville, NC and Fort Collins, CO to name a few) is sourced locally. What does that mean for places like Olustee, OK, New Orleans, LA and other communities just beginning to take on these food-related challenges? What actions should individuals be taking? How can we live collaboratively alongside one another, listen, share and find our common ground (values, beliefs)?
To us, put simply, individual action comes down to acting as proper stewards of the land and of each other; learning to help each other, because, in truth, we hold the key to collective happiness. We need each other.
It is no secret that we have been mistreating our planet, stripping the earth of its oils and minerals, damaging mass amounts of land with mono-cropping, and other terrible human affects we are sure you are tired of hearing about. There are many symptoms of this earth’s sickness. Thankfully, we humans are waking up to this reality and recognizing the imminent need for change. There are countless ways and avenues to get involved in this movement toward healing. We personally would like to focus on food because of its direct connection and intimate relationship to the individual and the earth. Food fuels us, and as a convenience-based, consumerist, hierarchical society, we have been forgetting the value in that.
One of the many things we hope you, our readers, glean from this experience is the sense of the power of networking. We can all support one another in achieving goals and making lasting change in our communities if we stay connected. Move toward the other in love, rather than fear. Although taking advantage of the technology we have today is of major importance, every site visit reported on was from a place we heard about via word-of-mouth. Over the 60-day trip, there were solely 2 nights we didn’t know where we were sleeping, and only one night we paid for a place to stay. And, all of our gas was paid for by you, our generous donors, via our crowd sourcing campaign.
With that in mind, we would like to take this opportunity to remind our readers, that you hold the power, you are the change, you are an immense vehicle in this movement. We urge you all to start noticing where your food comes from; ask the waiter, read the sticker, look up the company, make an effort to understand our current system even if you do not feel ready to change it. Awareness is the first and biggest step to any transformation. Talk to others, challenge ideas, hear new ones, and awareness will come from connecting to one another. Share your passions, share your values, share your skills; most importantly share your love. Networking is vital; it is in numbers that we will gather momentum to make the big changes necessary. As we all gain an honest picture of our current food system and its faults, change will come naturally and swiftly.
In many ways this trip has come full circle; from our physical locations to themes presented continually along the way. From the magical forests of the Pacific Northwest, down the west coast, through the southwest, dipping down into New Orleans, back up and through the southeast and parting ways in North Carolina, what a journey!
So where are we going from here?
The seed has sprouted and started to take root. There has been talk of many forms the website may take post-dispersion of the authors. We are now extending our web to the communities of the Northeast (Ali, in Boston MA), Northwest (Sera, in Williams, OR and Sarah, in Napa Valley, CA), and Southeast (Evelyn, in Miami, FL). From this point on, we will be publishing separately until we decide to travel again (Driving Food Home: The Homestead Edition, coming to computer screens near you November 2014). Sera will be working on turning The Collective into a non-profit, a process which will hopefully be completed by the end of the winter. We have also briefly discussed the possibility of an online-publication, or at least an open-forum format (any web-designer friends out there?) to help further engage our audience and be able to cover more ground. We would love to hear from you! Thank you, again, for following along with us on our journey. Blessings to all!