I may be crazy, but . . .

We are going to be embarking on an amazing adventure this summer! Six weeks in a teardrop camper, traveling from Florida to Maine and back again. I know. Crazy.

So before you start thinking I’ve totally lost my mind, let me give you some background . . .

We took our first family camping trip a few years ago, and I was instantly hooked. There is just something about sleeping under the stars, cooking over a campfire, fresh air and millions of stars . . . I don’t know. The romance of it takes my breath away.

I didn’t camp much as a child. A few camping trips to the beach when I was really little, and once with a friend in middle school. This whole world was new to me and I have to admit that at first, I totally turned up my nose at those “other” campers. The ones who were not in tents, like us, but in giant RV campers with elaborate set-ups, electric lights, even televisions! That is not camping I smugly told myself.

And then I actually met these folks.

My friends laugh whenever I say this, but I am not a particularly social person. I’m shy. I have a hard time talking to people. But these RV folks, as a group they are not shy. They are kind and generous and talkative, quick to share toothpaste in the campground bathroom or offer advice on the best campsites. They smile a lot. Maybe there is something to this ‘fake’ camping after all.

Over the years my fascination has grown into a full-on obsession, an obsession which has now developed into the UNSETTLEMENT project.

In 1963 Buckminster Fuller propsed an end to urbanism and predicted “an urban strategy termed ‘unsettlement’, consisting of a network of hyper-mobile nomadic bodies operating at the scale of the entire world connected through invisible radio links.” Fifty years later, that prediction has come to fruition in nearly unimaginable numbers. In the US this community of nomads consists largely of retirees (though they are joined by an increasing number of multi-generational families) and while it is difficult to secure hard numbers on a group this fluid it is not at all unreasonable to count them in the millions.Who are these people? I want to know. I want to know how they made the decision to pack up their lives and hit the road. And how do they make it work?

The UNSETTLEMENT project will document these modern gypsies and the homes they carry with them in a photographic journey of over 3,355 miles. During the summer of 2012 the UNSETTLEMENT project will travel from Florida to Maine, seeking out RV parks, campgrounds, state and national parks, and photographing their migratory inhabitants. The resulting photographs and collected oral histories will be exhibited in college and university galleries and will be compiled into a companion book.

So there it is. Thanks to a Savannah College of Art & Design, Inc. Fellowship for Professional Development and our amazing sponsors at Signatour Campers, what was once a crazy dream is now becoming reality. I hope you will all subscribe to the UNSETTLEMENT blog and “like” us on Facebook. I wouldn’t want you to miss a minute of this epic adventure as I hit the road with my husband, two kids, one dog, a teardrop camper and a camera.

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4 responses to “I may be crazy, but . . .

  1. I’ve already “liked” and was hooked the minute I saw your FB group! I can’t wait to see your progress. I have to admit, I don’t feel like I have the requisite patience for that togetherness for that long, but I do think you’re on to something. You children will never forget this summer and neither will you! How can I support? Feed chickens? Something else?

    • Thanks, Jennifer!! I’m a little nervous about all that togetherness too, but I think (hope!) we can find a way to all have a little space one way or another. And yes, I may call on you for help with the chickens!!

  2. Ashley, This is awesome. The project is a fantastic idea. If UNSETTLEMENT needs a ten hour detour to the west before getting going, you know where we are!

    • Thanks, Tad! Perhaps if this goes well there will be an UNSETTLEMENT part 2 where we head west? 🙂

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