Why am I doing this? I’ve been asked this a lot over the last few weeks. It is a great question with many answers, but let me share just a few.
Conversation sustains vibrant communities. My work with Habitat for Humanity and Justice for our Neighbors has shown me that community is not an experience that is felt from the outside, but must arise and be sensed from within. Even to begin to talk of Nebraskan communities requires listening and sharing in amongst those physical spaces and with their people.
As well as exploring communities, this project adventures into Nebraskan culture. The cultural anthropologist, Edward T. Hall, asserted that, “Culture hides more than it reveals,” and, moreover, “It hides most effectively from its own participants.” As an outsider – a British expat and new American citizen – to learn about the stories that shape our sense of who we are necessitates being with Nebraskans in their towns.
“… purely vagabond.”
The question inherently includes consideration of why drive an RV on this long, meandering route? I’ll borrow from Charles Dickens, a famous storyteller and road traveler, albeit on foot. Dickens described his walking as being of two kinds: “One, straight on end to a definite goal at a round pace; one, objectless, loitering, and purely vagabond.” In many respects, his quote parallels a description of conversation and of the plan for this project, adopting an approach allowing for purpose and surprise, solitude and connection.
Perhaps above all, I believe that conversation helps us to live better and to work well, individually and together.