Interview with Benjamin of Create Our World
It all starts simple enough, with a mission that reads “I’m Benjamin Jenks and I am Hitchhiking around the USA, sharing stories of the Goodness of People.” With that, Benjamin has been on the road since May of 2009, hitchhiking around the USA. He hasn’t paid any money for transportation, nor lodging. What could appear at first to be an exercise in manipulation, upon sincere inspection becomes an elegant demonstration of the goodness of people taking care of each other. “I [...]want to make more goodness in our world by highlighting that goodness definitely exists despite what you read or watch in the news.”
These stories and bits of evidence are collected on his generously multifaceted website www.CreateOurWorld.net which documents this project using blogs, maps, video, photos, links and anything else you would need to learn lessons from the road without actually being on the road.This plethora of sharing is a vital component to Benjamin’s project because not everyone can be as mobile, but everyone needs to see what the world has to teach. When asked what he has learned so far, Benjamin said the road has taught him: “Try to understand where another is coming from and don’t get stuck on superficial differences of opinion”, “At the base line we are all human and all want to be happy” and “Genuinely be kind and good and good things will happen for you”.
Perhaps it was Benjamin’s journey to goodness that helped him see being laid-off as an opportunity to launch this project. With access to unemployment benefits, he set off to begin his trip. However, funding is fickle, and unemployment gives way to dipping into 6 years worth of saving, which in turn gives way to the entrepreneurial spirit. “I never want to have a normal ‘job’ again and think that it is totally possible to do what you love and make it pay. That being said, this hasn’t happened yet with my project, but I am faithful that it will.” Benjamin is pursing freelance writing, odd jobs and other ways of generating income. Soon he will be selling his photographic prints from his trip and making a place on his website to donate money (if that is something you’d feel good about doing) to help fund an extension of this ambitious and necessary project.
With nothing but time and the spirit of the derive, Benjamin says he decides where to go next, “based on recommendations or places I want to visit or places I am attracted too.” Being in a foriegn environment leaves one vulnerable and necesititaing absolute faith in the goodness of people. A walking demonstration of the point he is trying to prove, manifesting a reality he has come in search of. And Benjamin should know about manifesting goodness. He spent the past 6 years working with at-risk youth at a wildnerness therapy school. “It was challenging work. I learned to communicate with others directly, especially people whom were unhappy or angry with me.”
Being able to skillfully connect with people has become a handy and necessary part of this project because as Benjamin admits, “I think I probably do scare some people off, but I just try to be myself. I genuinely am interested in others and care about them and I think that shines through. Once people talk to me for a bit, it is easy to see them relax. I think [...]when [most people see that] someone is genuinely interested in them, it is a breath of fresh air.” These chances to connect have led to some amazing instances of openness and generosity. Benjamin explains, “Many folks have been very good to me.” Benjamin tells of a man named Bruce in NY who took him 4 hours out of his way, bought him lunch, and left him the change of a hundred dollar bill. Another time, some folks in a small town in West Texas, took Benjamin in on Christmas eve, got him a hotel room and gifted him over a hundred dollars. But, as Benjamin points out, “[it was more importantly a fun night with people of very different backgrounds whom shared a day together.”
Everyone is invited and encouraged to join Benjamin in this journey to highlight the goodness of people. You can share your stories on Create Our World or participate every day. Benjamin encourages everyone to make a difference every day by “just by being good to each other. Even small things, like smiles or holding open a door for someone is important”. I would even propose that visiting Create Our World regularly and letting the stories wash over you is a valuable form of participation. Please visit his site often and you can also follow Benjamin on Twitter and Facebook where you he is posting daily photographs, inspiration quotes and articles. Stay on the look out for “Create Our World Kits” which will be bundles of articles, quotes, inspiration and practical tips to help shape our world into a better world.
–Thanks to Benjamin for the interview and Angela for turning me on to Create Our World–