Can one rely on the goodness of the world to support their journey AND be a positive example for change? Absolutely!
Ambitious to continue sharing sustainability and conscious living with the world, Rob Greenfield created a new eco-adventure called Share my Way Home to test the sharing economy and experience genuine human interaction.
For this experience, Rob flew one-way to Panama City with just the clothes on his back and passport (no money, backpack, camera, or phone). From there he found his way back to San Diego across 7 borders and 4,000 miles completely dependent on the sharing economy, general resourcefulness, and a combination of social media and true human interaction.
In doing so, Rob was able to show how these ideas can decrease our negative impact on the environment while also increasing health and happiness.
What Rob brought with him:
Shorts, shirt, jacket, hat, sandals, passport, canceled credit card*, 3 pieces of paper.
*Rob carried fake proof of funds and false onward papers for travel in order to bypass security borders and be allowed into new countries.
On January 15, 2014, Rob left his home with a one-way ticket to Panama City and the above-mentioned items in his pockets. 4,000 miles away from San Diego, the adventurer set out to form new relations, meet contacts connected to via social media, and explore the sharing economy for himself during the expected month-long journey.
One of Rob’s main intentions was to disconnect from mainstream society as much as possible and experience true, genuine human interaction. While this was accomplished in the jungles of Latin America, a surprising realization was also earned: it is a benefit and fact of this time period that both social media and human interaction go hand in hand.
Both technology and human kindness allowed the activist to venture back home, and it was to discover and share this realization that Rob left in the first place.
It started in Panama City where Rob began to put his good humor, dedication to sustainability, and random talents to work to bring in a few extra bucks for travel. Although this initial stage had its challenges, Rob persevered to stay alive and remain a positive example for happiness and sustainable change. Some of the random tasks he took on to procure funds and/or food included: collecting cans, building websites, and pawning found items. These allowed him to earn around $100 – a solid amount to feel secure traveling North – and continue his quest to San Diego, all the while connecting with those who opened their homes and hearts to him.
He utilized connections made through social media and resource-sharing websites like WWOOF & Craigslist. Individuals with generous hearts, families, and centers helped him with food and a bed and occasionally a bit of extra money to further him on his journey.
The goodness of people and the alive-ness of the sharing economy was evident at almost every turn: Even when people did not know of his mission or have a task for him to do, they were kind enough to lend aid. For example: 1,400 miles away from his home and down to his last $30, Rob approached a lady at a bus station and asked for a ticket as far north as possible. She obviously saw he was in need of help, gave him a discounted price on the ticket so he had a few dollars in spare change, bought him a sandwich and juice, and filled his water bottle.
Such instilled acts of kindness opened Rob’s eyes to the fact that while disconnecting from modernized living is possible, it’s a partnership between online connection and ‘in-face’ interaction that is truly allowing the sharing economy to thrive.
“It’s really beautiful to be a part of the genuine human experience.” – Rob Greenfield
Part of the journey was to create a crowd-sourced documentary that showcased the alive-and-well sharing economy. Without a video camera or iPhone to capture the journey, Rob instead asked friends he met along the way to be a part of the film-crew and capture their perspective. They later emailed their videos to his film collaborator Sean Aranda. This project is expected to be released in the near future.
Update: Here is the short film made from the cameras of the people he met along the way.
What did this adventure teach? That while many things are changing in this world and it sometimes may seem most appealing to venture away from society and shun all aspects of technology, there are many positive ways social media and online connection can be utilized to bring all people of the world closer together. Engagement in this way can also be used to share remarkable journeys and further sustainable ideas like this one.
This adventure not only proved that the sharing economy is thriving, but that it has opportunity grow and become stronger than ever thanks to technological advances and the growing kindness of mankind.
“The truest human connection is meeting someone on the street and striking up a conversation. You don’t have a preconceived notion of who they are from their Facebook account, you haven’t gone to LinkedIn to figure out what their job is, you don’t know how many followers they have on Twitter. It is a genuine human interaction.“– Rob Greenfield, Urban Times.