I spent the end of summer in front of a computer.
September in Chicago is meant to be savored. Those days are the warmth you keep tucked under your hat for February, and I sped right through them on a bicycle.
Each morning I rode from Bucktown to NextSpace to spend the day planning my year with Ei. I poured myself some coffee, checked in with the Ei team, and got to work. I contacted friends for leads, approached companies about projects, and reached out to Ei’s network for advice. I sent more emails in one month than I had in the previous year combined. There’s a lot of work behind those stories of inspiration and self-discovery, and after a couple weeks, the monotony began to steal some of the magic I felt at the beginning.
I decided to switch it up. I changed my focus from companies and connections to location. If I couldn’t enjoy the withering days of summer, I would fantasize about the place I might be when fall arrived. Wanderlust can be a great motivator.
I complied a list of creative companies in the Pacific Northwest and took a close look at Vancouver. I’d always heard positive things about the city—high standard of living, commitment to the environment, natural scenic beauty—and it looked like an ideal place to spend my first term.
There I found a branding agency called Cause+Affect. I was familiar with their event PechaKucha from my time in Tokyo and the rest of their work looked just as impressive—thoughtful projects done with a sleek aesthetic sense. I wrote them an email explaining the program and we began a dialogue. Fortunately, my learning goals aligned well with their needs. We worked out the details and I left Chicago to begin a ten-week apprenticeship in Vancouver.
Since arriving I’ve been helping to evolve a project called FUEL, a large-scale conference meant to inspire a more sustainable future. I’m observing the ways creative agencies can work with their community to manifest real improvements in people’s lives, all against the backdrop of one of the world’s most beautiful cities. I still spend most of my days in an office, working in front of a computer screen, but the view outside is incredible.