A community is something you come to crave when you move around a lot. Having grown up in Calgary, the strong sense of community here had a profound impact on me. People were always willing to have a conversation, help each other out, and make a city with a population of over a million feel like a small town.
After I left Calgary at eighteen, I jumped around a fair amount. I lived in Montreal, Hong Kong, Calgary (again), and London (the one in England), and I traveled abroad from these places as often as I could. To combat the feeling that Tolkien so aptly describes as “butter scraped over too much bread”, I was always looking for a sense of community wherever I went.
Oddly enough, I felt that joy of being part of a community most strongly when I was traveling. As I sat down for meals with strangers, was invited into people’s homes, and shared stories with them, this huge planet felt that much smaller. Travel amplified my connection to those living entirely different lives at different coordinates. It increased my appreciation of their achievements and contributions to the world, but perhaps more importantly of their struggles.
Cambodia was somewhere that changed me fundamentally in this way. The 1970s genocide that took the lives of one-quarter of this country’s entire population continues to mar its development and progress. I was startled by my own lack of education about this before I traveled there. I was also surprised at the strong connection I felt to the harrowing genocide that happened to this community across the world and its continued struggle to make education accessible across the country. I felt firsthand the ability of travel to educate and connect us to the global community. I also learned the need to make responsible choices as a traveler and leave behind only a positive footprint.
The strength of this feeling over a number of years was shared by my business partner (and brother) who is also an avid traveler. It led us to createBanana Backpacks, to bring travelers unique gear that can create a social impact. With this in mind, we built a travel backpack that would not only make life on the road easier but also support a student’s education in Cambodia.
We were inspired by Local Laundry’s dedication to bringing together Canadians who care about making a positive impact in their communities. Similarly, we wanted to bring together a community of travelers who care about making the world a better place. Our goal continues to be not only creating a travel backpack, but creating a place for travelers to come together, to learn, and to make an impact.
While we continue to build the Banana Backpacks community and my itchy feet still take me around the world frequently, I’m incredibly grateful to be based in Calgary again. There is an unbelievable sense of collaboration in this city. I’ve been blown away by the support of the local community here to lend an ear, to give advice, and to find ways to collaborate with one another to make an impact. And whether community to you is your neighbourhood, the city you live in, the travel community you’ve found, or elsewhere, finding that sense of connection has the power to make the world a smaller and better place.
Tune in next week to see what we have on the blog! If you or someone you know would like to be a guest blogger on our blog drop us a line! Chat at chaaa next week Canada - stay local!