Recently, as I was figuring out my spring travel schedule, I began to have a small panic attack.
In this job, I spend a lot of time chatting with many fascinating people who live all over the place. These are cultural professionals, the people who make many of the world’s cultural institutions tick. They are friendly and engaging and smart — to a person! And, of course, they happen to work at tremendously interesting places.
So, as we are chatting on the phone or meeting at a conference, when they say something nice like “You should come visit us sometime!” I nearly always say YES. How could I not?
Thus, the small panic attack. I had made a lot of visit promises to a lot of people over the past year. Which isn’t usually a big deal. It’s just that in this case, I realized that I had made promises to people who work on three non-contiguous continents.
Short of a TARDIS, there didn’t seem to be a way to keep all these promises in the fairly short time window I had to work with. But then it hit me: I could solve my problem and achieve a personal bucket list item at the same time.
For the first time in my life, I would fly around the world.
This made me very excited. To be honest, planning trips nearly always makes me very excited. But this one especially so. So, I put all those promises in front of me, opened the calendar on my phone, pulled up a map of the globe on my laptop, and got to work.
I learned a few things:
- There is such a thing as a half time-zone. Sydney and Adelaide are half a time zone apart.
- I would manage to Spring Forward in Portland for North American Daylight Savings Time, and three weeks later would be in Australia just in time for them to Fall Back for the end of Australian Daylight Savings Time.
- The major airline alliances have special websites specifically for people who want to fly around the world!
- But apparently my trip was weird enough that it didn’t work on any of them. So, I called Qantas and spent many hours on the phone with my ticket agent (James). In fact, we spent so much time on the phone together, I’m fairly certain we will be exchanging holiday cards next December.
But finally, my schedule was sorted, my tickets were booked, Qantas James was sending me photos of his kids, and I was ready. Or, should I say, ALMOST ready. There was one more thing. This round-the-world trip felt unusual enough that I wanted to give myself an extra challenge. I was going to post to my blog about it, as I do for all my travels. But the extra criterion I gave myself was this:
I’d focus my stories entirely on small cultural organizations.
You see, many of the subjects of my posts in the past year have been quite large: Carnegie Hall, Museums of Science in London and Boston, The Houston Ballet, Mount Vernon, and many more. They have scale and innovation and big thinkers and have been a rich resource for my tales.
But I also know from experience that small cultural organizations often have great innovation and stories, too. Sometimes this is invention born of necessity and tight budgets. Other times it is their very size that allows them to be nimble in ways that large organizations could only dream of.
I loved the idea of shining a light on smaller innovators in our community. I aligned my calendar to allow for it.
So, for the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing stories from my trip around the cultural world, focused entirely on smaller cultural organizations.
I’m calling it my Small World tour.
I hope you’ll join me! I know Qantas James will — he’s following me on Twitter now.