Photo By: Kime McClintock in New Orleans, LA

Photo By: Kime McClintock in New Orleans, LA

My Story: My name is Alyssa Cudmore and I grew up in a rural town in the Willamette Valley in Oregon called Dallas.  After working for a small civil rights nonprofit for the past four and a half years, and before heading off to graduate school for a masters in community-based natural resource management in the fall, I decided to take a bike tour along the historic Underground Railroad. This is my blog documenting the adventure!

Blog Inspiration:  Inspired by the power of Brandon Stratton’s Humans of New York Blog , I have decided to use a similar model for mine- “Humans of the Underground Railroad.” I will be speaking with individuals along my route with no specific agenda- just to know a bit about who they are in an effort to paint of picture of the “modern” Underground Railroad.  While I am no photographer and have no fancy camera, I hope I am still able to capture the essence of the people and of the communities I encounter along the way for you.  If you are interested in the more mundane day-to-day encounters and ramblings I have, you can also take a look at my “Day to Day Happenings” section.

A bit more on goals of the tour:  Our communities, our country and our world are facing obstacles today that have never before been encountered, and much less have solutions. I am a great believer in the power of the human spirit and our ability to innovate and collaborate to make change happen.  However, I also know that our country and our world is severely divided in more complex cultural, social, economic, racial and environmental ways than I could ever include here.

This trip is my effort to understand and reflect on how we as a local, national, and global community today can best come together around some of the most demanding challenges of our time. I would like to understand what communities value. How individuals view themselves within their communities.  What types of stories are we telling? What are the most salient issues for us as individuals, for our families and for our communities? What roles do we see ourselves taking to confront these problems?  What is working? What is not?  

As most of us have learned since elementary school, the Underground Railroad was a secret system developed to aid fugitive slaves on their escape to freedom. It also gave birth to our country’s first racially integrated, religiously inspired movement for social change. The symbolism of this has stricken me since I was a little girl.

I am tirelessly interested in how we can bring diverging interests, stories and people together to solve issues and, at risk of sounding too cliche, to make our world a better place.  It is our job to build and tell a story that empowers, repairs and completes our communities and the natural environment in which we live.  And we can only do that successfully and sustainably together.  But first we have to know and trust one another, not in spite of, but in celebration of our differences.

I heard in a podcast some time ago that Mister Rogers always kept a quote from a social worker he once met in his pocket, and I hope that it will emblemize this trip and what comes afterward:  “Frankly there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.”

What can you do: Along the way I would like to find one small community effort, project or idea that is working… or could work.  It could be something as small as seeds for a community garden, or something a little larger like a new community center or a mentoring program.  I will be donating a small amount of my money to the project, but if you have the means… and trust in me to find an effective cause, I would be so thankful for your donation.

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7 thoughts on “About

    1. aacudmore Post author

      Susie Buckingham! How did you hear about this?! It is so good to hear from you and thank you for stopping by to say hello. It made my day. I hope all is going well and really… so nice to hear from you. All the best! Alyssa

  1. Jerry Schreckengost

    Alyssa, I got a chance to meet u near Austinburg Ohio! The more u told me about what u were doing I found so inspiring! I have been telling a lot of ppl about meeting u an yr story! Most ppl think I’m joking! I don’t blame them because I thought u were joking at first! I starting looking at yr blog an now I can’t stop! I hope the best for you! Be safe an good luck!

    1. aacudmore Post author

      Jerry- it is so good to hear from you. I made it safely into Ashtabula that night without a hitch. A mouthful of mosquitoes… but that was expected. 🙂 Thanks for following the blog! I’ve had a hard time getting an internet connection these past few days, so I am a little behind on the picture posting… but keep your eyes peeled! Yours should be posted soon. I hope everything is going great, and please keep in contact. I’d love to hear from you! By the way, have you opened that dog shelter of yours yet? All the best, Jerry. — Alyssa

      1. Jerry Schreckengost

        Alyssa it’s so good to hear back from you! I see u have made it pretty far from ashtubula! An no I haven’t opened the dog shelter yet! After I win the lotto I will! It’s so interesting to read about the ppl you are meeting along the way, an i love looking at the pix’s u post! I look forward to reading more!! Be safe an good luck! You’re not to far from being done!😃

  2. Bob Hoh

    Hi Alyssa, I along with my friend Ray,were the two guys that met you in Erie and rode with you on the Bayfront Parkway.Did you find find Dave Dennis in North East,Pa. and a place to sleep?We enjoyed talking with you.Also enjoy all the photos and stories of your travels,amazing journey.Keep safe…..Bob….

    1. aacudmore Post author

      Bob! Oh my goodness. I DID! I was hoping you’d connect with me on here. I didn’t get into North East until around 9:30, so I actually stayed outside of a church that night. But the next morning, I spent a couple of hours in a coffee shop (the Boston Bean). On my way out, I was at my bike putting on my panniers, and a man came over and started talking to me. He knew quite a bit about touring… and bikes… a little tooooo much. So I asked him, “Are you by any great chance, Dave Dennis?” What do you know… it was him! He proceeded to take me out to dinner with him & his wife, into his house for the next night, and then brought me along on a bike tour he had the next day- a fully supported trip with 60 cyclists up to Niagra Falls (right along my route)! What do you know?! It is so funny how life works. But seriously- thank you so much for the recommendation. I hope you guys enjoyed the ribs!! Please stay in contact on here- I’d love to hear from you. All the best, Bob! –Alyssa


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