Not all projects that inspire great community design are local, and not all learning opportunities are in the classroom. Sometimes, the fastest way to get somewhere good is not by car. And sometimes, the best work feels like play.
Since 2006, my work and my horizon has been the Shenandoah Valley. It’s an inspiring place to call home, with small cities as diverse from each other has they are internally, and the openness and space to play with alternative ideas. But sometimes, it’s nice to have some new perspectives.
In the summer of 2013, my partner and I took a tandem bicycle tour from San Francisco, California to Vancouver Island in British Columbia, with stops along the way at eco-villages, urban bike-share programs, permaculture farms, sustainability centers, and alternative economy ventures. Peddling without a true schedule or itinerary, we made it to Vancouver faster than anticipated and ended up with a side adventure through Idaho and Montana. Our eventual (car-ride) home brought us through research into perennial crops in Kansas, plus petrol-free and collaborative communities in Missouri.
Bicycle travel, for us anyway, didn’t make for long-winded descriptors of our journey. But our summer “Idea Depository” is still online at tandemtours.tumblr.com, filled with ideas worth doing that remain on our “one day, here too” list.