The Impact of Mobility on Creativity in America
Travel plays a critical role in freeing and re-shaping the creative process
Nomadism and travel have been celebrated for centuries as instigators of creativity and self-expression. Amazing things happen when we hit the road. Whether you’re a writer, entrepreneur, musician, or photographer, creativity seems to ladder up when we become nomadic in our orientation to the world. Two projects articulate this in an incredibly poignant manner. Take the examples of Millennial Train Project, and Wesley Verhoeve’s One of Many.
The MTP is a non-profit that combines societal and personal development objectives. Participants’ crowd-funded journeys take them across the American continent where they are trained on-board the train by mentors, workshops with local leaders, and develop projects specific to various cities, some of which are struggling to draw entrepreneurs. 2015 will see a journey that will go through Los Angeles, Austin, San Antonio, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C and the applications are currently open.
Wesley Verhoeve is a traveling portrait photographer and writer visiting American cities to capture the independent creative movement. He is working to capture this community in some 12 cities in a project titled One of Many with a mission “to inspire, enable and empower creative independents and small business owners.
He is a minimalist of sorts, shooting with one lens, one camera body, and with natural light only and he’s also a believer in the slow web. When we met up with him, he told us that:
I was really inspired by Jack Cheng’s piece on the ‘slow web.’ I decided to not go with the current prevailing wisdom of publishing in a way that provides frequent and plentiful bite-sized pieces. Instead, I am creating one long form photo essay per month that captures one city’s creative community in portrait and writing. It doesn’t bother me if people might have to save it til the weekend, or read it in several settings, or maybe only look at the photos. My goal is to provide context and an impression of a community, which is inherently a complex combination of people that are linked in various ways. I think that works better in long form than in many individual posts.
Wesley is funding his work through partnerships rather than being crowd-funded. He told us that while he funded the first trips (he has Charleston, Denver, and Nashville under his belt) he began talks with website builders Squarespace and other companies that were a natural fit for his growing passion project:
I funded the first 4 or 5 trips myself, on a shoe string budget. After the 4th trip, I had lunch with a friend at Squarespace and when I told him about One of Many there was such an alignment between our values and audience that he asked if there was a way to help, and we figured out a partnership. I thought about it and decided on some criteria for partnerships, which include that I have to be a happy paying customer of their service/product myself, our mission of inspiring and supporting creative independents have to be aligned, and partners have no editorial influence. Later I was able to bring on other companies that fit the same criteria, including Mailchimp, Karma, Lyft and WeTransfer. There are still a hand full of city sponsorships available, and I’m talking to some companies right now to see about fit.
The Millennial Train Project cross-pollinates talent from around the country while a project One of Many frees itself from the fast-paced rhythms of the web to shape more intimate portraits of the renaissance that so many metropolitan areas are working to harness. These creative processes and projects communicate a greater collaborative spirit and relative openness compared to work which happens in a studio or any stationary position.