We are now home in Washington after an incredible 18 days on the road. So many times we were just amazed that, due to the support we received, we were able to travel across our country to talk to so many people about something that is so important to us all.
We are both so passionate about the connection we all have to the earth, and Branching Together allowed us to bring others to that realization. Regardless of someone’s political stance, dwelling place, economic background, etc., the environment is something we all rely on. It is time that people start investing their thoughts and actions in the earth.
Branching Together was an incredible opportunity to talk to people about this exact necessity. We both felt that we had to do something about what we see every day; which is people living without any concern or regard for the environment that surrounds them. On this trip, so many people agreed that this is the case for many people.
The people who visited our display seemed excited and ready to continue that ripple of sustainability in their lives and the lives of their friends, loved ones, and community members. These people took time to really think about what vow of change they wanted to write on their leaf. That exact thoughtfulness is how we must live each day.
The population will continue to grow, as well as globalization and consumption. We have to keep up with this growth and match it with an increase in compassion for the earth and for others. We can’t wake up one day and change the government or corporations that same day. What we can do is make different choices about what we buy, where we work, and how we speak to one another. When enough of us wake up to injustices and waste, then large scale change is possible.
Thank you so much for following along on our journey of Branching Together. We are so excited to continue this project in different capacities to continue working toward a more sustainable population.
Cheyenne and Susie
Buffalo is our last stop on the tour of Branching Together, so pulling into the city was bittersweet. We made it safely across the US and got to connect with so many amazing humans. We couldn’t wait to do it again in Susie’s hometown of Buffalo.
We set up Branching Together across from the Albright Knox Art Gallery in front of Hoyt Lake. It was really cold, about 30 degrees, so we weren’t sure about how many people we would get to speak with. However, it turned out to be a great location. Since there were only small groups walking by intermittently, it was much easier to connect with people one on one.
In Buffalo, we got to speak with people who vowed to be more conscious of their waste, recycling, and consumption. The first person that stopped by the display was on a brisk walk around the lake. He expressed his agreement with the message and remarked on the importance of living sustainably. However, he said that no matter how sustainable someone is we could all always do better. One mother-daughter duo was excited to see the display, and vowed to waste less. A lot of the people in Buffalo remarked on what the local community is doing to be more conscious of waste.
It’s always great to hear that people are aware of how their county is handling things like waste. Many people also disagree with how their counties are taking care, or not taking care of waste. Branching Together is about inspiring people to take these issues into their own hands. We can’t always count on others to do the right thing. It’s up to us to turn knowledge into action for a healthier planet.
Thank you so much for following the journey! Check back for more updates post trip. We’ll post again soon!
Cheyenne and Susie
After Washington D.C. we went up to Philadelphia, PA. We had no clue where we would set up, and after driving around the city center we decided to set up in Love Park. It is a small park in the middle of the city with a sculpture that says “Love,” so many people were walking by to take photos nearby.
We spoke to a wide array of people, including students, locals, and people from around the world. A few different groups of people who walked by were visiting for an Anthropology conference. They were really excited about Branching Together because of the hope it portrays about our future as a sustainable society.
Another group of people we spoke to for a while was a group of friends who live in Philly who are originally from Georgia (the country). They were walking around the city handing out food and water to homeless people on the streets. We talked with them about the power that an individual holds to change the course of the earth’s future.
The overall vibe in Philly from passers-by was powerful. A cop even pulled over on his bike to read the display, and said “I appreciate you!” Branching Together goes beyond these short interactions. The leaves of vows are meant for people to seriously consider how they can affect change on a large scale and live compassionately for the earth.
Branching Together is off to our last stop: Buffalo, NY!
Cheyenne and Susie
After our visit to Indianapolis, we took the long drive to our nation's capital. We were exhausted, but super excited to set up Branching Together at the White House. We set up the display this morning on the sidewalk in front of the White House and its many tourists. D.C. is such a great city for Branching Together because we had the opportunity to reach both local people as well as visitors from all around the world.
We spoke to people from Kansas City, Baltimore, Virginia, India, Europe and more. So many people gave incredible feedback about the display. Branching Together is the kind of demonstration that people are not used to seeing, because of its unique nature. Many people were surprised that we were out there, but also really excited and encouraged that environmental justice is something that people are working toward. A few people even said, "Finally, something out here that I agree with!" Many people took pictures of the display as well as they took in the sights.
While we were out there, we met an employee of a large wildlife foundation, a developer of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, and others from all walks of life. Toward the end of the morning, a family was walking by. The two young boys in the family were trying to read the display, and pulled their dad by the hand over to us.
The boys, dressed in suits for a White House tour, read the entire display. Then, we brainstormed with them about what they can write on their leaves of vows of change. They were concerned about how plastic doesn't decompose in the earth. So, one of the brothers wrote that he will no longer use plastic straws. The other brother said he had some trees, but kept forgetting to water them. So, he wrote that he will water his trees!
Today was very encouraging because we met so many people who are ready to make a change in their lives to be more sustainable. Everyone seemed to be really supportive of Branching Together and happy to see young people taking action to make the world a better place. Meeting those two kids especially was awesome. They are the future, and it was amazing to meet these passionate world changers!
We'll talk after Philly!
Cheyenne and Susie
Today we brought Branching Together to Indianapolis, Indiana. We met up with our friend, Sam, and she brought us to downtown Indy to set up the project. We set up the display and looked forward to connecting with people about living sustainably. However, people were not as receptive as they have been in other cities across the country. A decent number of people passed the display - on their way to work, lunch, and other commitments.
However, most of the people who passed by had headphones in, were on their phones, and were not interested in Branching Together. Every time we set up Branching Together, we don't expect everyone to be interested. However, in Indy, people seemed more unengaged than what we had seen elsewhere. We did speak with a few people who really appreciated the project. One person said that he planted Japanese anemone in his yard. At the display, he vowed to plant a garden entirely of flowers that bees like in order to support the bee population!
This was the first time this trip that the disconnect of people from each other was really evident. Everyone is so focused on where they need to go rather than where they are in the present. It is a phenomenon that disconnects us from our environment, including other humans. We can only hope that both the people we connected with and the people that walked by and skimmed the display were inspired to live more sustainably.
We're super excited to bring Branching Together to Washington D.C. next!
Cheyenne and Susie
This cold and snowy morning, we had the pleasure of presenting to two classes at the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa. Our friend, Shauna, is an admissions advisor at the school, and she connected us with a professor of science and environmental courses.
We set up in the first classroom, spoke to the students about Branching Together, and answered their questions. Then, they filled out leaves, and we discussed practical steps they can take to live sustainably. We then set up the project in an atrium, where the next class would be viewing the display. In between, we connected with some passers-by about the project. In the second class, Environmental Literature, they are currently reading a work by Wendall Berry, which we were able to connect to our project.
We really enjoyed connecting with these students who are working to be difference-makers in their own community. The professor was so welcoming to us and was excited about Branching Together. It was truly a pleasure to speak with these incredible people about how, collectively, we can make a difference.
One of the words that kept showing up in the vows they wrote on leaves is "conscious." They said things like "I will be conscious of the products I buy in stores to reduce waste" and "I will be more conscious of recycling." It's incredible to see people becoming more aware of the change that they can affect on our earth. Can't wait to meet more people at our next stop, Indianapolis!
Cheyenne and Susie
We're back in Missouri, not far from where the two of us went to Cottey College! We set up the Branching Together display on the campus of Missouri State University in Springfield, where we spoke with a wide array of people. One student said she grew up in Germany because her father is in the military. She said that her school overseas was so committed to recycling that they had bins almost everywhere, and that we can do so much more here in the US. At the Branching Together display, she made a vow to take strides toward living waste free! Other students were taken aback by our display because of it's uncommon nature. It's always exciting to see people wake up to the possibilities of living compassionately for the earth and each other.
We'll talk again after our display in Iowa!
Cheyenne and Susie
Today, we headed to the University of Arkansas and found a great spot to set up the Branching Together display! We were in the center of campus near the business buildings, which was great because we were able to connect with students and faculty between classes. Two of the students we spoke with are members of a fraternity. They said that they use a lot of styrofoam cups at their house, even though they had reusable ones. After talking with them, they vowed to switch to only using the reusable cups at their fraternity! Another person who stopped by was excited about what we were doing, and took a photo of the display to post to his social media. It's great when people share pictures of the Branching Together display because even more people can be reached. So many people have told us that they are inspired not only to make changes in their daily lives, but to stand up for what they believe in. Branching Together is not only about collecting leaves of change; it's also about inspiring and encouraging people to take action about the things they're passionate about. Next stop: Springfield, Missouri!
Chey and Susie