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  • As a little girl, I always imagined

  • I would one day run away.

  • From the age of six on,

  • I kept a packed bag with some clothes

  • and cans of food tucked away

  • in the back of a closet.

  • There was a deep restlessness in me,

  • a primal fear that I would fall prey

  • to a life of routine and boredom.

  • And so, many of my early memories involved

  • intricate daydreams where I would walk across borders,

  • forage for berries,

  • and meet all kinds of strange people

  • living unconventional lives on the road.

  • Years have passed, but many of the adventures

  • I fantasized about as a child --

  • traveling and weaving my way

  • between worlds other than my own

  • have become realities through my work

  • as a documentary photographer.

  • But no other experience has felt as true

  • to my childhood dreams

  • as living amongst and documenting the lives

  • of fellow wanderers across the United States.

  • This is the nomadic dream,

  • a different kind of American dream

  • lived by young hobos, travelers,

  • hitchhikers, vagrants and tramps.

  • In most of our minds,

  • the vagabond is a creature from the past.

  • The word "hobo" conjures up an old

  • black and white image

  • of a weathered old man covered in coal,

  • legs dangling out of a boxcar,

  • but these photographs are in color,

  • and they portray a community swirling across the country,

  • fiercely alive and creatively free,

  • seeing sides of America that no one else

  • gets to see.

  • Like their predecessors, today's nomads

  • travel the steel and asphalt arteries of the United States.

  • By day, they hop freight trains, stick out their thumbs,

  • and ride the highways with anyone

  • from truckers to soccer moms.

  • By night, they sleep beneath the stars,

  • huddled together with their packs of dogs,

  • cats and pet rats between their bodies.

  • Some travelers take to the road by choice,

  • renouncing materialism, traditional jobs

  • and university degrees in exchange for a glimmer of adventure.

  • Others come from the underbelly of society,

  • never given a chance to mobilize upwards:

  • foster care dropouts, teenage runaways escaping

  • abuse and unforgiving homes.

  • Where others see stories of privation

  • and economic failure,

  • travelers view their own existence

  • through the prism of liberation and freedom.

  • They'd rather live off of the excess

  • of what they view as a wasteful consumer society

  • than slave away at an unrealistic chance

  • at the traditional American dream.

  • They take advantage of the fact

  • that in the United States,

  • up to 40 percent of all food ends up in the garbage

  • by scavenging for perfectly good produce

  • in dumpsters and trash cans.

  • They sacrifice material comforts in exchange

  • for the space and the time to explore

  • a creative interior,

  • to dream, to read, to work on music, art and writing.

  • But there are many aspects to this life

  • that are far from idyllic.

  • No one loses their inner demons by taking to the road.

  • Addiction is real, the elements are real,

  • freight trains maim and kill,

  • and anyone who has lived on the streets can attest

  • to the exhaustive list of laws

  • that criminalize homeless existence.

  • Who here knows that in many cities

  • across the United States it is now illegal

  • to sit on the sidewalk,

  • to wrap oneself in a blanket,

  • to sleep in your own car,

  • to offer food to a stranger?

  • I know about these laws because I've watched

  • as friends and other travelers

  • were hauled off to jail or received citations

  • for committing these so-called crimes.

  • Many of you might be wondering why anyone

  • would choose a life like this,

  • under the thumb of discriminatory laws,

  • eating out of trash cans,

  • sleeping under bridges,

  • picking up seasonal jobs here and there.

  • The answer to such a question is as varied

  • as the people that take to the road,

  • but travelers often respond with a single word:

  • freedom.

  • Until we live in a society where every human

  • is assured dignity in their labor

  • so that they can work to live well,

  • not only work to survive,

  • there will always be an element of those

  • who seek the open road as a means of escape,

  • of liberation and, of course, of rebellion.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

As a little girl, I always imagined

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B2 TED road united american dream freight liberation

【TED】Kitra Cahana: A glimpse of life on the road (A glimpse of life on the road | Kitra Cahana)

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    VoiceTube posted on 2014/06/24
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