Reflection: Conversations From the Open Road 2015

Conversations From the Open Road had another successful summer of listening and learning to communities around our country. One crew traveled to the bayous south of New Orleans to learn about how people there are adapting, coping and taking action about their dramatic loss of land due to vast oil excavation in the Gulf of Mexico and our man-made ‘straight-jacketing’ of the Mississippi River.  As is often the case while we’re on the road, we were overwhelmed with the beauty of place and people and the entwining relationship between the two. Everyone we met opened their homes, their hearts and shared such personal and poignant stories; each expressed such a deep love for the watery landscape that is their home, and the unnerving reality about its continued loss.

Another crew (picture above) took the Megabus only a few hours, to New York City to learn first-hand about gentrification - a mostly urban trend whereby one group of people is displaced from an area by another group of people due to rising cost of living. The undeniable complexity of how one person’s decision to find cheap rent also figures into a larger, disturbing trend nagged at us throughout this exploration. And again, we met wonderful and inspiring people who gave us much to think about. The film shorts the students created are as thoughtful as they are beautiful, and honor the huge amounts of work each did in the car, in cafes, in motel rooms. Check them out and you’ll feel a bit of the contagious magic that happens when you travel and share a moment with strangers - Conversations From the Open Road.

We are all bigger after our experiences, and I’m thankful to have traveled with another inspiring group of young adults. Please get in touch if you have any thoughts about where we should go, who we should learn from or anyone who might want to join this upcoming Summer’s projects. We are looking forward to a Spring trip with the Northfield Teen Center, another in May with Burlington High School and two more in the summer.

--Mary Simons

For contact information, please visit the Conversations From the Open Road website