Frontier Fellowship Report: Ryan Troy Ford

I’m not much of a planner. I very much prefer to go where the wind blows me and experience things as they come. When I tell people I have no idea what I’m doing, it’s as close to the truth as I can put in words.

At the same time, I work full time as a designer for a tech company, which, I know, seems awfully incongruous with the previous paragraph. But, even with the relative security of a full-time job, for as long as I can recall, there has been a constant nag, an un-scratchable itch in the back of my mind that takes issue with consistency, and finds comfort in the removal of myself from my comfort zone. The intersection of all this is how I found myself in Green River, Utah.

I left my job for a month in search of this displacement; in search of things that would better shape my understanding of the point where life, creativity, and community meet. To see if I couldn’t use my skills for a more direct good, and come away with a better sense of purpose. For a month, I played in the dirt, swam in rivers, explored endless foreign landscapes, and slept in the desert under the stars. I worked with dedicated individuals, who believe strongly in the power of community, and work hard to produce tangible, positive change. I met friendly strangers, painted pictures with excitable kids, drew, printed, photographed, taught, and learned.

All the while, I was so enamored with the beauty in the experience, I had almost forgotten about the comfort zone I had left back at home. My time in Green River did more than satisfy an itch. It showed me the upside of taking risks and the faults in standing still. It demonstrated the power of immersing yourself in a community to spur change, instead of approaching it from the outside. And, perhaps most importantly, it proved that there is always more to be found on the less traveled paths of the human experience.