Geography of Youth: South of the Border

Back in January I reported on the plans of photojournalists Alan Winslow and Morrigan McCarthy to map the minds of young people around the world. Riding bicycles from Anchorage, Alaska the two are peddling across 50 countries and over 30,000 miles on an expedition to discover what their 20-something peers are thinking about. The Geography of Youth project began in July and I managed to catch Morrigan on the phone for an update as she and Alan made their way across the boarder into Mexico.

“We’ll cruise through Central and South America and then we head on to Africa,” she said.

Known as the Restless Collective, Alan and Morrigan are gathering stories that reflect the daily lives of men and women in their 20s around the planet. They aim to draw a cultural picture of where their generation is headed.

“We’re really excited to not only show visually some of the differences and similarities but also a more sociological survey to get a little more information,” Morrigan said.

As they ride through each community they stop to engage the people they meet. The slow pace and vulnerable intimacy of bicycle travel is the ideal way to build rapport and ask critical questions.

“In general people in their 20s are using this time to figure what they’re doing, how they’re going to move forward and pursue careers,” Morrigan said. “It’s an interesting time of reflection about who we are and what we want to and really should be doing.”

While taking portrait photographs Alan and Morrigan are asking each of their subjects the same questions. When did you become and adult? In 10 years where do you see yourself? How likely do you think it is that you will eventually get what you want out of life? What is the biggest concern in your life right now? So far as they’ve ridden through North America they’re discovering that many people in their 20s are worried about their future, whether or not they’ll have jobs or be able to raise a family.

“There’s definitely a sense of questioning the norms,” Morrigan said, “Questioning what our parents did and thinking about what will make us happy and how to go out and get that.”

The Occupy Wall Street protests featured prominently in stops they made in the New York before heading out on their trip. And in conversations since they started traveling they’re beginning to see the raise of perhaps a global movement.

“I think that with all the social media and the connections particularly between 20-somethings and young people all over the world we’re inspiring each other to stand up and insist that we be listened to,” Morrigan said. “It’s definitely something I think we’re going to see a lot more of.”

On last check of their web site Alan and Morrigan are working their way through Costa Rica. You can follow along, see their photographs, read their interviews and ask a few questions of your own. Visit http://geographyofyouth.org/

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Author:James

I'm a freelance journalist that specializes in telling stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living.

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