So it all ended with two things:
1) A friend (that’s me on the left and Karen on the right), and here’s a clue about thing number two.
2) A bike (here’s mine, taking a little break in front of Minnehaha Falls, the Twin Cities’ urban waterfall).
So, the backstory: Karen and I lived on the same first-year floor, Doty 5, but weren’t friends at all. Don’t worry! We both had many other friends; we just didn’t happen to cross paths until sophomore year, when we lived together in the Macalester Vegetarian Cooperative. That’s where the first Abbie and Karen adventures started.
First, in August 2011, a trip to Northfield, Minn., to attend a food justice retreat with the Real Food Challenge. Then some bread baking and other cooking projects, and soon enough, we founded a student org with some other friends. FoodRoots was a student group with the goal of working together with Café Mac and Macalester to achieve more ethical food purchasing on campus. This work, in solidarity with other schools all over the country, took us to a national conference in Santa Cruz, Calif. (that’s us above on a farm in California!), that February, where our suitcase famously got stuck in a turnstile in San Francisco.
Over Spring Break 2012 we took a trip to visit friends at Beloit College, with a brief stop in Madison, and the next October, we took an overnight bus to Baltimore for another food conference.
Karen and I both bike a lot, but I wouldn’t necessarily say we’re true bikers, by which I mean we don’t have spandex suits and there’s no use timing us ’cause we’re pretty slow. But if there’s one thing about me and Karen, we’re game for an adventure. We pumped up our tires and greased our chains, affixed our bikes with racks and crates, planned a route with the least amount of highway riding, and took off on our 61-mile trip to Osceola! This was the first image of the farm as we crested a hill.
So at this point in the blog you might be thinking WHO CARES? To which I say, it’s not just about the adventure. It’s about this: I didn’t know I could bike 61 miles until I tried it. I didn’t know I could move away from my family, start a student org, travel from coast to coast, or make have friends who would hold me along the entire journey, until I came to Macalester.
As we biked for seven hours, we talked a lot about what the past four years had meant for both of us. A lot of studying and tests. A lot of goofy dancing and spontaneous and much-needed coffee breaks. A few well planned jaunts across the country, and some regional travel too.
This is one way to tell the story of my four years of Mac, one grounded in relationship that bled into activism. This is a story about how Macalester fed my passion and gave me the opportunities to make real change in the world and in myself, and in what I thought I was capable of.
Abbie Shain ’14