Restless Collective: The Geography of Youth

Restless Collective is a photography and multimedia collective formed by Alan Winslow and Morrigan McCarthy in 2010 as an umbrella for joint projects. Right now, their main project is titled The Geography of Youth. The goal of this project is to promote global connections and understanding within the next generation by documenting through photography what life is like for hundreds of twenty-somethings around the world, and sharing their stories. Leaving in July 2011 from Fairbanks, Alaska, Morrigan and Alan will ride bicycles over 30,000 miles around the world, documenting through photographs, video, audio, and writing, the journey and the lives of twenty-somethings in over 50 countries. Their project and multimedia stories will be shared through digital postcards on the website.

We (Leica) learned of their project too late for us to equip them with Leica cameras, but they are definitely on the list for their next project! 

Alan Winslow is a photographer, artist, and educator. He holds a BA from New York State University at Buffalo where he studied Environmental Studies and Photography and has worked extensively with B&H Photo and Video, traveling around the country to educate photographers in technique and printing. He is an instructor at the Maine Media Workshops and his work has been displayed in galleries throughout the country. Winslow is interested in the overlap of medias including painting, sound, and video and much of his personal work revolves around the study and exploration of rural living – specifically, how people are connected and committed to the land. 

Morrigan McCarthy is a documentarian, writer, and multimedia producer specializing in long-term projects. She is a graduate of The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine where she studied photography and audio production and also holds a BA from Connecticut College in English Literature. She was selected to attend the Eddie Adams Workshop in 2007 where she won an award for outstanding work. McCarthy is a firm believer in the power of  storytelling through art and her work has been seen in publications as diverse as The New York Times, Broadway World, Salt Magazine and Port City Life. 

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”  Herman Melville, Moby Dick

It began with a simple enough idea: to bicycle around the United States. How we wound up from there half-way around the world eating hot croissants in a horse pasture at 6am, or sipping warm cows milk and exchanging charades-conversation with a Moroccan farmer is sort of a blur.

First, we cycled around the states, photographing and interviewing Americans about their opinions on the environment. We turned the work into a gallery show that toured the east coast of the United States, but pedaling somewhere around Ohio we had begun to conceive of a bigger project, one that would take us around the whole world, primarily by bicycle.

For one year we hid out in an algid rental house in coastal Maine making phone calls to companies for sponsorship, writing grants, and organizing a crowd-funding campaign. The new project was to be called, The Geography of Youth and we would photograph and interview twenty-somethings around the planet about their lives.

The conversation-starting power of a bicycle is unmatched. Ride into any neighborhood, anywhere in the world (this theory has now been tested), rich or poor, city or country, and language barriers be damned, people will communicate. They will tug at your panniers, kick at your tires, nod in approval, and indicate how strong your legs must be. When they’ve finished their universal dance, they’ll wait patiently as you stumble through a description of your needs: a place to pitch your tent, a little running water, and a twenty-something to photograph. The bicycle is the courier of patience, and when you travel around the world, patience is just what you need.

Projects that stretch for years evolve, and ours is no exception. We’re a year into The Geography of Youth and we diligently document twenty-somethings, but the world rolling under our tires seems worth a look too. As the smells, sounds, and languages change, so too do the light and colors. The shadows fall differently in France than in Chile, and as the water of these foreign places mixes in our blood we change too. We endeavor to photograph what we see and feel- the true experience- rather than what we expected to see and feel. That distinction is evident in the editing process as our “travel” photos fall by the wayside to reveal our own, unique story of a place.

Thank you Alan and Morrigan and good luck on the rest of your journey!

-Leica Internet Team

To keep up with the Restless Collective’s trip around the world with The Geography of Youth, visit their website, Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter for the most up-to-date information.