In the summer of 1994, my family planned a road trip from Houston to Washington, D.C. My parents highlighted the route on a map and I remember...
In the summer of 1994, my family planned a road trip from Houston to Washington, D.C. My parents highlighted the route on a map and I remember my mom asking me if I wanted to take the scenic route. My answer was yes.
The trip took us through several state lines, something I took pride in, but deep down, I knew I wasn’t the well-traveled 5th-grade explorer I made myself out to be—I had only driven through the different states, after all, and in the back seat, no less. But it’s probably why I started wanting to explore more.
When I finally got my own car, I’d find new routes home, no matter how inefficient, because I wanted to see what the other roads looked like. In college, I began exploring the campus and found my way into buildings under construction, rooms with unexplained pianos, secret tunnels, and rooftops of several buildings where I’d have to explain to administrators that I wasn’t jumping, just exploring.
These explorations weren’t destination-focused; I was wondering more than I was wandering. I just wanted to get lost, experience something new and come back with a little more knowledge and perspective, no matter where.
In December 2012, I got an email offering cheap flights to Portland, Maine. This email couldn’t have come at better time. I had just finished freelancing at a New York ad agency where I worked days, nights, and weekends, and a $60 flight seemed like a great price to step out of a gridded city and get lost again.
I stayed on a boat with a couple who gave me pointers about Portland, places I should eat and they even told me about their travels along the Atlantic coast of America. It didn’t hit me until I left, but this couple could have lived anywhere—they live in an RV-of-the-sea—but they chose to call Maine their home. I'd recently designed a poster about my own home state—Texas—listing the things that I'd missed about it in the shape of the state. After I made it, others reached out to me, asking me to make versions for their own home states.
As I sat in Maine, I decided to start a new project: I’d explore the country, talk to different locals and find out what makes them call their state “home.”
This will give me a chance to talk to people face-to-face, gain some perspective, and give the people a poster they’d be proud of, and maybe even inspire other 5th graders to explore the country themselves someday. Or at least give 5th-grade me a high-five and say, “You did it, man.”
Please visit my Kickstarter to learn more and help fund the project.
Images courtesy of Nathan Hoang.
This project will be featured in GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.