Early December snow fell on Alleghany County, North Carolina. We got about six or eight inches, with deeper drifts in the usual spots. Of course, as a photographer, as the flakes start to fall, and it becomes apparent that we’re going to get some serious accumulation that will stick around for a while, I start thinking about the best spots to shoot, and how to get there before they’re disturbed, especially by other humans.
And I start checking the weather forecast to figure out when and where the light and snowscapes are going to be best, thanks to clouds, wind, and all those intricately interwoven variables we just can’t know.
December 9th, 02017
My father and I started on the Blue Ridge Parkway at the gate near Mahogany Rock Road, at the base of Bullhead Mountain. Technically, I can easily hike here from the house, but I wanted to save some time and get to some good spots while the conditions were good — and potentially before anyone else got there.
As I continue to travel the world—and spend more time exploring my own big backyard right here in North Carolina—I’ve come to realize that I can apply my academic training, professional experience, intelligence, and creative abilities in a combined effort over the next few decades to produce what I think and believe will be experiential documents worth consuming as materials for lifelong learning and understanding. I am conceptualizing an ongoing series of experiential documentation, taking appropriate form over time as ebooks, print books, magazines, interactive apps, websites, and perhaps even videos.
This concept first came to me when I was looking at a map of the United States and thinking about the difference between national parks and national monuments. Based on my personal experience onsite at various national monuments, coupled with my research and perusal of the maps of these monuments and the surrounding areas, I realized that I would love to commit to exploring and documenting a sense of place in each of these areas—demonstrating their importance as sacred spaces for maintaining the natural order of our relationship with the environment and all other species with which we share it.
So, to put a stake in the ground, I created a map of all the US National Monuments. (Yes, there is at least one that does not appear in the image.)
Inspired by my recent trip to Helsinki, which included a stay at the hostel on Suomenlinna, I decided to add UNESCO World Heritage sites to the map. I figured it would be interesting to see how many UNESCO sites in North America are within reasonable proximity to US National Monuments, thus allowing me to combine several locations into exploratory experiential documentation journeys of 1-3 months in duration.
Welcome to 205 South Bridge Street in Elkin, North Carolina. We’re actively seeking rental tenants for the building.
The building at 205 South Bridge is situated at the primary entrance to downtown Elkin—one of the few places to cross the Yadkin River between Yadkin and Surry Counties. There are approximately 10,000 cars per day that cross this bridge.
With two business partners, I bought the property in early 2015 to renovate and use as local Elkin offices for the remote work we’ve done through various national and international employers and contracts. We’ve done quite a bit to transform the inside and outside of the building and grounds, including a complete overhaul of the north suite into tech-friendly offices, as well as the addition of a large patio on the east side of the building, a new storage shed on the northeast corner of the building, a sidewalk and terraced garden on the south slope of the property, and several garden boxes and landscaped flower beds on the west side of the building near South Bridge Street, which is also US Highway 21 Business.
We’re finishing the renovations to the building by the end of 2017, with the goal to be rent-ready in mid-January 2018.
During the entire month of August 2017, I traveled to Norway from the United States. Based on the fact that it is so easy to find cheap flights between European destinations, coupled with the relatively low cost of staying in hostels (not to mention the option of Couchsurfing for free), as well as the fact that I’d never been to Finland, I decided to take a side trip to Helsinki at the beginning of my travels.
I left the United States on the evening of July 31, connecting through Munich to Oslo on August 1, ultimately landing in Helsinki late that night. I was so tired that I didn’t realize I left my copy of The Snow Leopard (by Peter Matthiessen) in the seat back pocket on the plane until I got to the airport hotel. I was quite disappointed, as I was thoroughly enjoying the book, and had made several notes in the portion I had read so far. Matthiessen recounted an experience from the Himalayas that was strikingly similar to a recent stargazing experience I’d had while camping atop Mount Mitchell in North Carolina.
What is #Elkin2050? It’s the name (and hashtag) I’ve chosen to identify a dynamic “urban core district” development plan (and planning process) for my hometown Elkin as we move closer to the year 2050. Why 2050? That’s when population scientists have projected we’ll hit nearly 10 billion people in the global population.1
Like many small towns in the United States of America, my hometown, Elkin, North Carolina, is facing many problems in the post-industrial experience of the twenty-first century. There don’t seem to be many good options for what this and so many other towns can or should become, now that singular industries employing thousands of people, as did Chatham Manufacturing12 during its heyday, are no longer a viable option for small towns in the United States.
In recent months, there has been a substantial increase in empty stores on Main Street in Historic Downtown Elkin. There are enough empty stores now that people have begun to take notice and discuss this issue in continued passing conversation on a regular basis. Recently, a meeting was convened to discuss the economic future of Downtown Elkin, specifically as a result of this recent increase in empty stores. Continue reading The Future of Elkin North Carolina – Empty Stores Downtown
This afternoon, I had a chance to take a break and enjoy a fast-paced solo hike on one of my favorite loops through Stone Mountain State Park. I’m making an effort to increase and maintain a focus on life work balance, especially since I continue to find that launching a tech startup has the potential to be all-consuming of my ever increasing waking hours.
This loop is a hike I’ve been doing since I was a kid, and many aspects of the trail have changed a bit over the three – almost four – decades, including the installation of several long sets of staircases. These staircases help people stay on the trail on some of the steeper sections of Stone Mountain, which can be pretty difficult to ascend due to the slick granite of the monadnock. Continue reading Life Work Balance – Foggy Hike On Stone Mountain
I love shooting winter mountain landscapes after a relatively heavy snowfall here in North Carolina. As the winter storm started on Friday night, I was happy to go to sleep knowing there’d be ample snow for a day of hiking and photography.
Sleeping in Saturday morning, my first excursion was a quick walk down to the small lake at the bottom of the hill. As anticipated, the lake was mostly frozen, and there was a brief reprieve in the continued snowfall and somewhat stiff breeze. I spent some time with my 7D on the tripod in the stillness, and then managed to snap a few decent phone shots as well. Continue reading Shooting the Storm – Winter Photography
As 2016 came to a close, I stepped away from my previous role as CTO of McKinsey Social Initiative, and now it’s time to move forward as one of the founders of Knedia, a digital media technology startup based in my home state of North Carolina.
Knedia is an idea that has been percolating for a couple years, based on some conversations between myself and my co-founder, John Wiles. It’s one of those ideas that goes back and forth between the front and back of your mind, and you never really stop thinking about it. I firmly believe that the best ideas are the ones you can’t forget. Continue reading Starting Up 2017 – Digital Technology Startup
My book Winter South 02014 was published in March, and apparently an email from the marketing team slipped through the cracks, so we are just now getting around to forming a press release to launch my book into the stratosphere.
I took some time to fill out a formulaic series of “interview” questions for the Lulu marketing team (their “Press Release Questionnaire”), and as I continued down the list, I couldn’t help but notice that some of the questions felt quite absurd. As such, I’ve decided to publish the questions — and my actual answers — here on my blog. Just for fun. Continue reading Preparing for Launch: Winter South 02014