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Posts Tagged ‘Washington’

Sydney Harbour, the day after we got home.

1,449 days since heading out there I am back again, just ten days short of an even four years away.

It was 1,399 days, or just a day less than 200 weeks, from my arrival in the US to my departure from San Francisco last Sunday. I landed in New York in June 2008 after a near-36 hour day traveling from Bangkok before catching the train to Washington DC, the first of many times I would travel that corridor past the broken factories and over the inlets of the East Coast.

I arrived knowing only a handful of people, unsure of what I would do next or where exactly I would end up. I had only a few weeks to figure things out and secure a job offer which would lead to a visa before K caught up with me, just a few weeks to justify the decision to leave so much behind in Australia and strike out to live my dream of working in the US.

We spent two years in Washington DC, meeting incredible people and having many side adventures and wonderful experiences. I went through significant adaptation pains at Ashoka, learning to work inside a large established non-profit after ten years as an entrepreneur while teaching an old organization new tricks, but relished the opportunity I had as the first social media director of such an influential and groundbreaking organization, pushing myself, constantly learning new things, working with amazing colleagues and experimenting with emerging forms of media and communications. I am really proud of all that was accomplished during that time, including launching and growing Ashoka’s Twitter account to over 600,000 followers, publishing three ebooks, crowdsourcing a promotional video and generally introducing Ashoka’s many departments and country offices to the power and potential social media and how it could help achieve the mission of creating an everyone a changemaker world.

After two years in DC it felt like time to keep moving. We considered New York but decided San Francisco was more our kinda town, a decision we never doubted once we got there. Over two years in the Bay I worked with a number of non-profits to connect their missions with social technologies before launching social good crowdfunding start-up StartSomeGood with my friend Alex Budak who I met at Ashoka, which I’ll be continuing to work on from Australia.

We loved San Francisco: the people, the culture, the environment. San Francisco combines the most ambitious people on earth with the most relaxed in a unique, harmonious ying/yang. We got out into the countryside at every opportunity, exploring the hills of Marin and the wineries of the Russian River, staying in Paso Robles, Yosemite and Big Basin Redwoods Forest, driving Highway 1 and hiking Mt Tam. We made and deepened some great friendships, meeting some incredible entrepreneurs, creatives, visionaries and festivalists. We adored our part of the city, the Mission District, which reminded us so much of Newtown, where we had lived in Sydney.

And now, somewhat astonishingly, this chapter is over and I’m left trying to make sense of it all.

Over the past four years I got married and got my scuba diving license, jumped out of a plane and learned to drive a car, founded a Burning Man theme camp and visited 11 countries, worked for someone else for the first time in eight years and founded a new company, drove across America and bought my first road bike, was granted four different visas and denied re-entry once. I visited 20 American states and wish I’d made it to more (namely: Utah, South Dakota and Louisiana). K made it to 30 over the course of selling her families wine.

We had, to sum it up, a really good time. But not without its challenges and set-backs, its moments of frustration, fear and doubt. Such is the rich tapestry of life.

Homecoming is always an emotionally-complicated experience. I’m excited to explore Sydney and can’t wait to spend time with my old friends, while at the same time being sad to leave San Francisco and missing my friends back there. Everything is so familiar but at the same time different. I’m obviously older and I hope I’m a little wiser as a result of all these experiences. The relationships I formed will stay with me and I’m so grateful for them. The ideas I’ve been exposed to and inspiration I have gained will inform whatever happens next. Now I want to contribute to the burgeoning social innovation scene in Sydney and while continuing to grow a global community of social entrepreneurs on StartSomeGood.

K and I brought something else back with us as well, our first child-to-be, due in August. We never contemplated for a moment taking this next step in our relationships and our lives anywhere other than Sydney, with universal healthcare and our families and friends here to support us.

And so on to the next stage. While this particular chapter is over the adventure continues always. Onwards and upwards!

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LeDroit Park Mural

LeDroit Park Mural on Elm St

My apologies for the blog silence this past week. We moved house on the weekend, didn’t get internet until early this week and I have been preoccupied with unpacking boxes and building furniture to get on my computer in the evening. But things are settling down and I’m back into it.

It’s exciting to be in a new place in a part of DC I haven’t explored much: LeDroit Park, near the NW/NE border. LeDroit Park was originally a whites-only neighbourhood in the late 19th Century but is now a primarily black neighbourhood, although it is, as they say, “up-and-coming”, by which they mean more white professionals are moving in. Like us.

It’s fun discovering this new (for us) part of town, it has a different vibe from Mt Pleasant, the suburb we lived in (and loved) for the past year. We’re within walking distance of the 9:30 Club, DC’s premier live music venue, and not too far from U St, a strip of cafe’s, restaurants, bars and shops.

Our living situation has changed also, K and I have moved in with a couple of friends. I will miss living just the two of us but it’s also cool to be back in a share house, which was always our set-up back in Sydney. This has allowed us to drop our rent while upgrading our facilities. The new house has a huuuge kitchen, massive common room with two fireplaces and our room has a fireplace and ensuite jacuzzi. Pretty nice.

We do have to deal with a pretty relentless amount of traffic noise and very bright street lights outside our big bay windows, which for the first couple of nights, before we got curtains set up, kept us awake and then woke us up early, but we’ll inevitably get used to it.

Whereas before we used to like to say we were neighbours of Barack Obama, as we lived just off 16th st, which runs down to the White House, now we live just off North Capital St, which runs directly to the Capital Building, so we still have that visual reminder that we live in the heart of the empire.

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