I don’t remember when exactly it started. I guess, it was more of a slowly forward moving wave, a feeling that became stronger with every day. I became tired. Tired of sitting in the office. Tired of reporting on politics for the Austrian television. Tired of reading the bad news in the newspapers everyday, which used to be an essential part of my job as a journalist. I wanted to do something different and use my passions for traveling, people and stories to create value that other people can benefit from too. The beauty of humanity is something I believe in. Something, that is hard to experience by sitting on our couches and watching television. But something, that is very easy to inhale when going out, opening up to the world and its people. That’s what I wanted to dive into. That’s what I wanted to share with my readers. I managed to get off from work for 14 months, founded my project Thousand First Steps, created my website and hit the road on November 10th 2016. I hitchhiked from Vienna to America with 35 people giving me a ride in their cars and three that took me onto their boats – one sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. On my website www.thousandfirststeps.com I’m telling the stories of inspiring people that have visions of a better world and the ambition to make them become a reality. I want to figure out what we can learn from their first steps and inspire other people to take their own. This purpose of our projects made The Local Shakers and me connect very quickly. From there it was only a small step to the idea of sharing our stories on each others websites.
Many interesting people have crossed my path since I started my journey. Amongst them is a hollywood producer, who earned a six figure income and quit, because producing tv-shows didn’t satisfy him anymore. He started traveling, fell in love with the Spanish language and founded a Spanish school in Medellín. The school were I brought my Spanish to a practicable level. I met an organic farmer, who gives away organic food for free and teaches others to grow their own food in their gardens. I’ve crossed path with an impressively selfless man in Colombia, who founded an elderly home for homeless people and has spent his whole life caring for them. Now he needs help for himself and I recently started a crowdfunding campaign to contribute my part.
And I met Noah Debonis, a documentary producer from the United States. Since meanwhile over ten months he works on his independent documentary about the reintegration process of ex-combatants from the guerrilla organization FARC back into Colombia’s society – one of the biggest challenges the country faces nowadays, that the infamous conflict has come to an end. I was able to join Noah to a film shooting in Las Cruzes, Bogotá. This neighborhood is known as one of the most dangerous ones in the whole city. I knew we would be escorted and protected by the police, but I neither knew how good or bad things are in this district. Nor did I have any idea how protective the protection of the police would actually be. The result was fear. The evening before I had this feeling of tension, slight anxiety and great excitement. A cocktail of feelings that I am familiar with – the last time I felt it was the day before I embarked on the boat across the Atlantic Ocean. It all turned out well and this day became one of the most interesting and exciting ones of my whole journey. And it made for an eye opening portrait about Noah Debonis and his inspiring vision. Read about Noah’s story
This video and Noah’s article has been shared throughout social media several times. Reading the comments not only gives an impression of how unique Noah’s project is. It also shows how inspiring his story is to many others. If I can contribute to this flow of inspiration, to this connection between people that eventually makes the world a better place, than I’d consider this for me to be the most beautiful job I can do as a journalist. Telling good stories about good people doing good things. Indeed, it can be that easy.