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Heidi Beierle, Heidi Across America

Heidi Beierle, Heidi Across America



April 30
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Village Books and Paper Dreams
1200 11th Street
Bellingham, WA 98225 United States
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Heidi Across America is a gritty story of how opening our hearts to others enables us to open our hearts to ourselves and love what we find.

In the summer of 2010, Heidi Beierle had just finished her first year of graduate studies in community and regional planning and decided to pedal her bicycle solo from her home on the west coast across rural America to the Preserving the Historic Road conference in Washington, D.C. What started as a research trip turned into an intimately physical and psychological encounter with self and nationhood.

Heidi was 35 at the time and didn’t love much about herself except her ability to endure grueling physical undertakings. She viewed her journey as an opportunity to fix her failures and insufficiencies. There were also some research questions she wanted to explore: Why do people live in small towns and what do they like about it? Did a bicyclist like herself bring economic benefit to the small towns she visited? What could communities do to support or invite cyclists to stay in their towns? What could cyclists do to support the communities?

Along the way, she was surprised by the kindness of strangers and the emotional pinch of traveling through Wyoming where she grew up. Her journey led her through the Plains and into the Ozarks where the heat climbed to agonizing temperatures and every pedal stroke in the heat felt one closer to death. By the time she completed the trip, Heidi discovered a newfound compassion for herself and a growing love for her country. Strangers opened their hearts to her and in turn, she opened her heart to herself.

And her questions began to change and mirror things many Americans are asking themselves today: How can I be okay in my own skin? What does it mean to be enough? How do I satisfy my desire to travel without harming the planet? What does it mean to love America?

For many young people, it is a rite of passage to light out on an adventure to see the world and expose themselves to new experiences, but we don’t often talk about how Americans seeing America can open us to the diversity, awe, and wonder available right here in our nation. Heidi Across America offers a journey to self-love, empathy, consideration for others, and respect for the spirit of place as pathways to find connection and home.

Heidi Beierle is an artist, writer, and adventurer who grew up in the wind and high plains of Wyoming. Her writing about her cross-country bicycle ride has been published in National Geographic Traveler, High Desert Journal, VoiceCatcher Journal, Journal of America’s Byways, and on the Adventure Cycling Association blog. She lives in Bellingham, Washington.


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