I was told again and again that I needed more focus, a narrower topic, a question to be answered in every state. That was, most mentors said, the only way to get sponsors interested in the blog. And it’s solid advice.
But I’m not going to do it.
Journalism is about writing the story that’s there, not concocting your own version and finding the people, places and things to fit that narrative. Most editors will tell you to write the headline first, so you know where you’re going. But I disagree. I don’t want to be part of the echo chamber. You don’t forge the story at the beginning, the story reveals itself at the end. While I’d love all of this to fit nicely together so that I may make it into a book, that’s for fate to decide.
I’m traveling around the country to study the broad topic of money and value, from central bank cryptocurrency to the volunteer community that fills water bottles for drug-induced festival goers to the waste that is a coal mine still burning under a ghost town… and that hasn’t even gotten me through the first month.
As I see it, these stories are part of the growing postcapitalism movement that Paul Mason so remarkably wrote about in The Guardian earlier this month. Mason takes the words right out of my mouth, “Almost unnoticed, in the niches and hollows of the market system, whole swaths of economic life are beginning to move to a different rhythm. Parallel currencies, time banks, cooperatives and self-managed spaces have proliferated, barely noticed by the economics profession, and often as a direct result of the shattering of the old structures in the post-2008 crisis. … They exist because they trade, however haltingly and inefficiently, in the currency of postcapitalism: free time, networked activity and free stuff. It seems a meagre and unofficial and even dangerous thing from which to craft an entire alternative to a global system, but so did money and credit in the age of Edward III.”
I’m driving into that economy. This is Moneytripping.
A 2008 Ford Escape and the vast highway system with it’s boundless tributaries of county roads and city streets will be my home for the next five months — at least three days per state. I ride into some states with story ideas already in mind and meetings already scheduled; others I’ll wander aimlessly, searching (suggestions are welcome).
It’s beatnick and gonzo. Those ideas flourished for 30 years and there’s been a resurgence as millennials challenge the older notions of career and life. So I saved up some money, quit my job and packed the car. I’m already humbled by the number of people interested in the project and willing to host me throughout the country. And I’m sure I’ll continue to be humbled by those willing to talk to a nomadic finance reporter and those willing to tip me for my work so I can eat something other than peanut butter and chips.
How you can help…
I’m accepting donations via PayPal and Bitcoin. My Bitcoin address: 1CSYUfCCoW2WoBFmoePAd1U9P5WR8tqtSD
I also use ChangeTip, Venmo, Litecoin to purchase eGifter gift cards and a whole slew of payment apps and currencies. Just reach out to me if you’d like to donate to the cause in other ways, like places to lay my head or books.
And please subscribe to my blog!
Interspersed with the monetary rambling will be hula hooping videos, because I have other passions outside payments.