Holiday letter 2016!

Konnichi-wa (Japanese) ~ Jambo (Kiswahili) ~ An yeong haseyo (Korean) ~ Bon bini (Papiamento!) ~ Hola (Spanish, from Spain to Cuba to Ecuador) ~ Tere (Estonia) ~ Ciao (Italian) ~ Grüß gott (Austrian German) ~ هتاف للترحيب (Arabic) ~ Halló (Icelandic) ~ Hej (Danish) ~ Hei (Finnish) ~ Hallo (Norwegian, Dutch, Flemish) ~ Bonjour (Quebec) ~ Hello (US, Canada, UK, Singapore) once again!

Ever since we’ve been together — 9½ years  — each year has seemed epic and extraordinary in its own way. Like we couldn’t possibly outdo the last one. Yet, somehow, each circumnavigation of the globe goes deeper, stretches us further, and expands our horizons. 2016 was no exception. We’ll be quite pleased if 2017 is even a fraction as exciting.

(For those of you reading our annual holiday update for the first time, some standard caveats: no pressure to read this missive. We create it out of joy, love, and to keep family and friends updated. It comes from April’s mother’s tradition, which April inherited some 20+ years ago. Over the decades, it has also been an enormous source of connection with others. Think of it as part journal, part travelogue, and part love letter for Dear Ones… and the world.)

Okay, ready for this year? Here we go!

TL;DR version: We’ve continued to fall head over heels for Portland and have wholeheartedly, unabashedly shifted our center of gravity there. April worked in 21 countries on five continents — all wonderful, though probably a few too many miles logged (see map). Jerry continues with all things Relationship Economy and has a new, awesome role in Stumptown (one of Portland’s many nicknames) as well. We took our first family globetrotting trip to Ecuador, with nieces Ella and Amelia, Allison and Stefan (April’s sister and brother-in-law). Plus we had unique opportunities to explore Cuba (in the spring) and Japan (in the fall) together. We are grateful beyond words for what life has thrown our way — notwithstanding global tumult and occasional thorns in our sides — and are doing all we can to keep our health, perspective, adventure-seeking souls and love of new ideas and a brighter future intact.

A recap of April’s travels this year. This is what 200K miles looks like. Oy.
Full version: 2016 got off to a relatively slow start. We battled winter colds and the like, though Portland’s rain never seemed as bad as people say. (We find that non-Portlanders worry, and locals don’t notice.) April went to New York to deliver a keynote on new business models and the energy sector — such a fun new audience — and then did a quick turn-around to Singapore, where she advised the Prime Minister’s Office, Centre for Strategic Futures (a futurist think tank in government!) and a dozen-ish other agencies on all things sharing economy. It was a whirlwind week, including some 15 presentations. She barely slept but loved it. “Singapore Inc.” definitely earns its reputation for efficiency and hard work!

 As April was flying one way across the Pacific, Jerry was heading the other way, back to Sydney to continue his work with Suncorp. There he and his client team wallpapered more meeting rooms with Post-Its and diagrams, planning ways to implement the ideas they generated in previous visits. By this time, everyone was familiar with both “jazz hands” to indicate agreement in meetings (see caricature of that below) and the Nerdfighteria gang signs, which are basically double “live long and prosper” hands. This gang won’t mug anyone, but just might change the world.

Jerry, Ivan, Gina, Brett, Will

Back in the States, April went to Palm Springs (for a keynote to city leaders) and Toronto (for a design-led policy innovation workshop), and then settled in for her longest stretch “at home” all year: four weeks! Portland coziness, endless coffee on drizzly afternoons, and lots of time doing yoga (plus working, of course, from the comfort of home). We took a delightful long weekend getaway to Astoria and the northern Oregon coast, with its spectacular and calming scenery, and decided (again) that we’ve landed in the most precious place on earth.

Click the image to see the full panorama

Heading into spring, Jerry flew to Colombia for the first time, to give a keynote speech at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Medellín, which you may remember had been the world’s murder capital a decade earlier. Once they’d dealt with the narcos, the city’s rebuilders were brilliant, including the poorest barrios in their development plans, creating a city its citizens can be proud of again. Jerry also discovered that Uber was already in Colombia’s dozen largest cities, with stress and strikes happening everywhere. Not the transport introduction one would hope for, but not unusual for Uber.

Meanwhile, April hopped down to San Francisco to prepare our home there for long-term rental. (While we are shifting our center of gravity to Portland, we’re not completely untethering ourselves from the Bay Area. Consider it an expansion of our root system.) We are thrilled to have a lovely German couple as tenants — he works at Facebook, she’s a writer, and they just had a baby girl! Home affairs in order, April then went to Charlotte, North Carolina to connect with university students and community leaders about the sharing economy and economic development. Charlotte isn’t a city she’d explored before, and she loved being there in dogwood season.

That basically gets us through Q1. It was pretty mellow, all things considered. (In retrospect, we really like mellow.) Thankfully it also gave us energy reserves that we would need in the coming months…

Cuba

At the beginning of April, we headed out on one of our year’s highlights: Cuba. We had long wanted to visit. When Jerry saw an email that a conference he’d spoken at twice before,  Applied Brilliance, was going to be held in Havana next, he wrote the organizer, who kindly invited us both to speak at the event. AB’s tagline is “transforming ideas into events that serve people” (sign us up!) and 2016’s theme was Resilience + Revival. Though we had to go through the traditional bureaucratic route to get our visas, etc., we were lucky to arrive just two weeks after Obama’s historic visit —  and catch up with some of April’s college friends in Tampa en route.

Arrival in Havana was cinematic: it was, truly, as though we’d landed in a movie set from the 1950s. Vintage convertible Chevys, quiet streets (the Embargo means Cuba doesn’t have many cars, so traffic jams are nonexistent), sun-kissed breezes and people chatting in doorsteps. All of our accommodation was in homestays, as hotels are sparse and homesharing is a nationally sanctioned activity. We spent our first five days with Paco y Reina, grandparents with a flat overlooking the entrance to Havana Harbor and a view of the entire Malecón, Havana’s famous waterfront esplanade. They shared stories of life there as generations of family, friends and guests descended every morning for breakfast.

View from our first Havana homestay
At Fusterville

Applied Brilliance gave us a unique opportunity to see inside Cuba as well. It was structured as a gathering to share experiences and insights about entrepreneurship and art with local Cubans. While it’s still difficult to access certain parts of Cuba — the government, for example — we got a taste of the country going far beyond any tourist guide. We learned about being a Millennial in Cuba from the 20-something founder of Cuba’s first citizen journalism platform, attended an art exhibit in Havana’s Chinatown, strolled endlessly lazy streets, and visited Fusterville, a village-sized artistic homage in the style of Barcelona’s Antoni Gaudí. It was hard to believe that technically this was a business trip.

Havana twilight view from our second homestay
Viñales karst hills

Once Applied Brilliance wrapped up, we took an additional several days to explore the western flank of Cuba. We took a half-day bus to Viñales, in the heart of Cuba’s agricultural heartland and a massive UNESCO Heritage Site. Imagine tobacco fields in the middle of a karst valley, peppered with horses and small terra-cotta-topped homes. We enjoyed a fabulous day hike through this landscape, learned how to roll Cuban cigars, and worried about how an impending tourism wave may crush the region. We also had what ranks as probably the worst meal we’ve ever had traveling together; it became a running joke. (You can see a collection of photos and videos from the trip here; April wrote up some of her reflections on Cuba and the sharing economy here.)

Us in Viñales

We really didn’t want to leave Cuba, though we were excited about what awaited us at home. For April it meant a return trip to Singapore with the Jobbatical team, followed by a back-to-back trip to Vienna, Austria to connect with YGL friends over innovation, a Viennese Philharmonic concert and hike in the Lainzer Tiergarten. For Jerry, it meant the annual Ten Year Forecast with the Institute for the Future, this time held in Oakland, in a Masonic temple. As usual, this meant much work and merriment with his IFTF “frolleagues,” and then plenty of time facilitating the event.

We regrouped briefly at home in early May, marveled at Portland springtime, and enjoyed it while we could. (It’s incredibly comforting to find a place that allows you to truly feel like your best self. Note: spend more time there!) April then departed on her first (of five) multi-country work trips of the year. Beginning with a week in Amsterdam for global Sharing City convenings and a trip down memory lane, followed by a long weekend in Toronto for the B&R 50th hiking-and-biking family reunion gala, a few days in Madrid for a keynote and city explorations, London for meetings, and finally Reykjavik for sharing economy pathfinding work. Iceland did not disappoint at midsummer: the sky never got dark, the people are among the most inspiring and multi-talented anywhere, and the hospitality was warm and welcoming. The country is grappling with some very serious tradeoffs between tourism growth and economic recovery, but if anyone is up for the challenges, the Vikings are.

While April was globetrotting, Jerry was creating media, experimenting with screencasts (screen recordings with his voiceover) about the Relationship Economy themes he’s developed for years. For example, you can watch a short series of videos embedded in a Prezi (imagine a zoomable white board) here, on the topic of how we “consumerized” our world and what that means (turn the volume up, go full screen and let the videos play; then hit the right-arrow key on your keyboard to advance to the next section).

Ecuador

We were also looking forward to our second travel highlight of the year: a family trip to Ecuador with Ella, Amelia, Allison and Stefan. For several months prior, we had been co-planning it via calls, emails and collective brainstorming. Ella and Amelia are now old enough to be interested in things like finding the best flight deals and off-the-beaten-track adventures. Ecuador did not disappoint!

We began in Quito, where we got our high-altitude legs, walked around the old town and ate our first humitas y pochoclo. From there, a gorgeous drive down the “String of Pearls” (endearing name for a chain of volcanoes, of which Ecuador has dozens) through patchwork-quilt mountain scenery to the village of Chugchilán and the Black Sheep Inn. April had stayed at this eco-lodge years ago, when only a dirt road ran through town, and had fallen in love with the region. We spent several days hiking through nearby hills, cloud forests, canyons and páramos (windswept steppes). We hiked along the Quilotoa Crater and nearly got blown off its lip. In the evenings we feasted on local vegetarian cuisine and played music by the fire. Other than the occasional dog chasing us on the trail, highly recommended!

On the rim of the Quilotoa volcano

From the highlands we continued down the spine of the country, overnighting in the sleepy town of Riobamba (which turned out to be a favorite, not least thanks to having this entire boutique hotel to ourselves — with an equally charming host) and pushing onwards to Cuenca, Ecuador’s arts and culture capital. We gulped churches and cobblestone streets, and enjoyed a fun Airbnb home complete with pool table and jacuzzi. We also stumbled upon the otherworldly Museo de Arte Prohibido (Museum of Prohibited Art) which was featuring a tattoo conference. Not your everyday exhibitions…

From the south we headed west, through the gorgeous Cajas National Park and descended 10,000 feet — in one morning, in a van, going downhill forever — to Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second largest city and port. Until recently, Guayaquil was a place to be avoided: crime-infested and downright scary. It’s still not a tourist magnet, but it provided an interesting contrast (and excellent seafood) for one night. Our last push was north along the coast, to the tiny village of Olón, where we lay on the beach and ate copious amounts of ceviche straight from the sea. We also visited Isla de la Plata — aka “poor man’s Galapagos” — where we saw blue footed boobies, watched wonderful humpback whales up close and personal, and snorkeled amongst schools of tropical fish.

From Olón we hightailed it back to Guayaquil, flew back to Quito, hopped in a bus to the northern market town of Otavalo for its famed market, and called it a trip. Not without adventure until the last minute, though: an earthquake at 9pm the night before we flew home, and April being yanked from her flight and put through police paces as if she were a drug smuggler. Thankfully we were safe and everything checked out, but after that, boy was it time to go home. :o

We’re halfway through 2016 now. Hurray!

After returning from South America, to be honest, we kind of just wanted to hide for a while and do nothing. Thankfully this was the second (and last) multi-week respite we had in Portland. Several weeks of Stumptown summertime, sunshine, roses and beer. We took a getaway to Bend, eastern Oregon’s outdoors mecca, which was beautiful and fun (where else can you surf in the local river?) but way too hot.

It may seem like we travel too much to actually work, but nothing could be further from reality. Truth be told, we work a ton, definitely more than we ought to. The downside of working for oneself is that there’s no boss to tell you that your calendar is crazy. But truth also be told that we both truly love what we do and are immensely grateful for the flexibility that our professional independence provides. So we’re going to put those benefits to use every chance we get.

For the past couple of years, we’ve collaborated opportunistically: we are both advisors to Trov, we’ve delivered co-keynotes, co-led workshops and co-written op-eds. But there was nowhere to easily find “us.” In July, we changed that: welcome to our duo professional website! (We still have our individual portfolios and websites, of course — Jerry here and April here.) Though we haven’t yet marketed ourselves much, mainly because we’re busy, but it feels great to hang out this shingle. Let’s see where it leads. :)

Heading into late summer, Jerry attended a small but very interesting conference on alternative education called AERO that took place in Portland, then he went to work moving his Mom from the Bay Area up to the Portland area. Jerry’s experience from too many lifetime moves served him well, as boxes got packed, stacked and reopened and everything shifted north.

Unfortunately, Jerry’s Suncorp project got derailed, slowly. A CEO change and major corporate reorganization took months to settle and reshaped the group Jerry had been helping. Then a tough claims year put Suncorp in austerity mode, closing outside collaborations like Jerry’s. This was sad all around, because things there were just getting interesting. In the meantime, Jerry had been meeting locals in Portland in search of a similar collaborative vibe closer to home. This quest paid off, as you’ll see shortly.

In August April continued to advise on a documentary film project on the Future of Work (to be released in 2017), took quick trips to Boston and San Francisco for the film, and made her maiden voyage to Aruba to advise the tourism authority on new business models, the sharing economy and future of travel. She loved getting a taste of the island, learning a few words of Papiamento, the incredibly warm welcome — and she’s pretty sure she was the only foreigner not on vacation there.

We greeted the arrival of fall with a combination of joy (cooler temperatures) and seriousness (girding ourselves for an intense few months ahead). Jerry attended a geeky conference he loves in Woods Hole, on Cape Cod, then went to a brand-new event a friend produced in Austin. They were different as night and day, but all fed his curiosity and appetite to meet new people. April departed on Labor Day weekend and, practically speaking, didn’t resurface until Christmas.

Helsinki Chapel of Silence

Her first whistlestop work tour included Oslo, Copenhagen, Brussels (the EU is pressing on collaborative economy policy discussions more than the US) and a return visit to Aruba to deliver a keynote for World Tourism Day (on-island twice in two months; what luck!). She went home for four days, then departed again for Europe: Venice, Italy for another conference; Helsinki, Finland (where she was captivated by the Chapel of Silence); Tallinn, Estonia (which remains one of her favorite cities in the world); a Copenhagen redux; and back to London. She then flew to Montreal, where she gave a keynote to hundreds of lawyers and insurance brokers from around the world (super interesting: welcome to risk management in the new economy) and stayed a couple extra days, during which she ran around Mont Royal, walked herself silly and fell in love with the Quebecois. While April was chasing time zones, Jerry was much more sane, holding down the Portland front and attending two local events run by the same group, all having to do with diversity and inclusion.

We would’ve called it a year after all this, but Q4 — and all its global madness — beckoned, as did a trip we’d been looking forward to all year: the annual YGL (Young Global Leaders) Summit, which this year was held in Japan. We could not have been more impressed, inspired by and grateful for both the Summit and the entire country. YGL is now indelibly marked in our hearts, minds and family-of-choice.

We had the opportunity to experience both traditional and future-forward Japan: the country is at once rooted (impossibly, it seems sometimes) in its cultural norms and expectations, and yet embracing new technologies at warp speed. Put these tensions together, add significant population decline (from 127M people today, to an expected 65M in 2080 — yes, half the size) and you get some fascinating results… like the only place we’ve found in the world that is excited for automation to replace humans on the job.

Japan

Our trip began in Tokyo, where we arrived a couple days early to get over jetlag and explore the city. We skipped major tourist sites like the Imperial Palace — beautiful as it is — and headed to lesser-known neighborhoods full of charm and history: Kagurazaka, with a funky ramen shop open only from midnight to 3am; Yanaka, with its artists galleries tucked behind impossibly narrow alleyways; Ueno Park, with families strolling its wide promenades. And a huge highlight: the Tsukiji Fish Market, the largest in the world, where tuna is auctioned off at 3am (if you arrive at 4am, you’ve missed it) and lines are around the block at 6am for the best fresh, raw fish breakfast of your life.

The YGL Summit was part professional development, part diving deeper into Japan, and part family reunion. We participated in learning journeys on topics ranging from nuclear energy in the wake of Fukushima (with the head of Japan’s energy regulator) to traditional tea ceremony, aikido and virtual reality at Japan’s Googleplex. We heard from inspiring YGL friends on fighting fear and xenophobia, civic innovation, and creatively tackling gender bias. The gathering was capped off with the greatest honor April could imagine: being chosen by her fellow YGLs to give the graduation speech as they become YGL Alumni — no one can bring themselves to say “old!”

Nara’s famous for tame deer

We added an extra week post-Summit to explore other parts of Japan, particularly those with less concrete and more fresh air. Our first stop was Nara, Japan’s capital back in the 8th century and today a haven for temple-seekers, nature lovers and deer (a deer park covers most of town). We traveled by bullet train, of course — an experience in itself — and stayed in a retro 1950s house complete with tatami mats, antique furniture fand stacks of manga (thanks Airbnb). We went for a lovely jog through nearby hills and parks, marveling at temples and dodging deer en route. April did her first Japanese handstand and ate enough mochi to make any Japanese grandmother proud, while Jerry ate his weight in okonomiyaki.

From Nara it was a quick hop north to Kyoto and temple heaven. We strolled the Philosopher’s Path, visited the stunning Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, lost count of the torii at Fushimi Inari-taisha and marveled at all manner of food (some of it still wiggling) at the Nishiki Market. By this point we were thoroughly smitten with the country, its unique combination of simplicity + elegance + efficiency, and even imagining what it would be like to live there for a year or so, but left wishing most of all to return and visit other regions first. You can see Jerry’s favorite photos and videos from the trip here.

Back to Portland, where autumn was in full force and the days gradually getting shorter and wetter. Our yearning for Japan was quickly sated when — two days after coming home, missing our daily dose of wabi-sabi — we returned to Portland’s Japanese Garden, just up the street. It may not be full of geisha, but it’s the best we’ve seen outside of Japan, and within walking distance! Jerry settled in for a long stretch of work and deep thinking, including preparing and giving a keynote talk for a tech conference in Tempe. That talk had little to do with Jerry’s recent thinking and required him to “reinstall” his ways of thinking from 20 years ago, which he found really fun to do. The event was private, so the talk isn’t online.

Meanwhile, April tried not to get over jetlag… as less than one week later, she went back over the Pacific on her penultimate work marathon. First stop: Seoul, South Korea for their annual Sharing City festival (she’s on Seoul’s Sharing City advisory board). She also visited community-led sharing economy companies, ate meals including 28 (!) different banchan (side dishes), and found herself in the middle of peaceful protests against the country’s President.

…which brings us to Election Day in the US, with its surprises.

Before leaving for Korea, April had voted by mail and, along with countless others, awoke on November 8 (in Seoul) expecting to make history for women that day. Back in 2008, April had been in Kenya and experienced the euphoria of Obama’s win first-hand. Ironically, this year she opted to take a tour of the North Korean DMZ (demilitarized zone) that day. It was eerie, and little did she know how things would descend from there. As the election results came out, South Koreans were not only aghast, but bona fide fearful of what this could mean for Korean relations. She made her way south to the town of Gyeong-jo, known for being an “open-air city-museum” for all its cultural sites outdoors, and talked with as many locals as she could. It didn’t solve anything, but it did comfort — and there was a silver lining in being buffered from the intensity of emotions in the US then.

For months before the election, Jerry had been tracking the trends, tactics and terminology of the many campaigns, as they all narrowed down to Hillary vs. Trump. Two days before the election, he published this video about his perspective on the strange and twisty campaign (that’s a long video, so hold off unless you’re really into it). When he realized that Trump had won, he was shocked but not surprised, and set out to figure out who predicted his win correctly, and who offered useful insights on what had happened. That process really shook his cobwebs away, and provoked him to create a series of shorter videos piecing together what happened. They look like this:

We still haven’t recovered from the election and thoughts of the upcoming inauguration, to say nothing of disconcerting global trends. Given that topsy-turvy context, we’re focused on identifying and harnessing the light that wasn’t visible before. (In the spirit of: the system cracked. It broke. Cracks are how the light gets in… ) Our work, midwifing new ideas and imagining new futures, has never felt more important. We plan to consistently, peacefully stay true to our values and protest when appropriate. If you are involved in such efforts too, please let us know, as we’d love to better connect these dots with others.

Speaking of which, from Korea, April continued westward to Dubai for the inaugural World Economic Forum Global Futures Council (GFC) summit. She was selected to join the GFC on the Future of Mobility (which includes travel :)), a huge honor. She’d never really visited Dubai either, so that was an extra bonus. After three days of non-stop meetings and views of the Burj Al-Arab next door, she went really westward — one of the longest single days of travel in her life — and, four flights and 28 hours later, landed in Aspen, Colorado. Three days of wonderful discussions at the Aspen Institute, two days CrossFitting with her Italian sister Jessica (who conveniently lives in Aspen) and April returned to Portland exhausted, happy, and wishing she could crawl into bed for days.

But not quite yet. “Only” three more trips and then that can happen… does globetrotting finally sound more exotic than it actually is?

We enjoyed Thanksgiving in Portland with Jerry’s Mother and started to set our sights on 2017. Jerry had one of the best Decembers we can remember. First, IFTF brought him in on an interesting project creating a foresight course for a major client, which meant diving deep into mixed reality, cognitive computing and more, and finding ways of making these topic comprehensible and memorable.

Then he knocked on the door at Ziba Design. Ziba is an elegant design firm (five blocks from our place!) that over its 32 years has expanded from industrial products like Microsoft’s ergonomic keyboard, portable Bluetooth speakers, lightweight camp stoves and squirtable ketchup bottles to bank lobbies, business processes and corporate identity. Just as they were looking for big ideas to expand into, Jerry came into their conversation and rapidly found great chemistry with the team, and even better that his 20 years of ideas about trust and the Relationship Economy had landed on fertile soil again. He starts 2017 there part-time as their Strategy Director, with a charter to help Ziba and its potential clients think bigger, then act on the new ideas that result.

His part-time role at Ziba allows Jerry to continue other client work, as well as running REX, the think-and-do tank he started in 2010. It was a quiet but solid year for REX, with the thesis becoming increasingly relevant until it was almost painfully so with Trump’s election. Consider for a moment that Trump represents the apex (or nadir?) of consumer culture: a flashy reality TV billionaire used modern social media to hack everyone and gain control of what is arguably still the most powerful nation on Earth. That happened, plus we had some great REXy guests and conversations about innovative community health care in the Netherlands, taming Artificial Intelligence, Cuba, Japan, Greece, biomimicry and dealing with fake news in the post-truth era.

While Jerry was clicking into Portland’s thriving design scene, April left for her final business trip of the year, and one of her most-anticipated: Africa. For several years she has been keen to bridge sharing-economy principles with emerging markets and sustainable development, drawing on her previous career-chapters and expertise, and she’s finally getting her chance(s). This first installment was pretty basic but enabled a clearer sense of potential and direction. More to come in the new year. From Nairobi it was back to Copenhagen one final time (very hyggelig in winter), a quick sprint through London, and finally… home.

We spent Christmas in Atlanta with April’s Italian family for the first time, combining the holidays with — most joyfully — Nonna’s (Italian grandmother’s) 90th birthday celebrations and — most unfortunately — bouts of stomach flu. This holiday letter is our first attempt at anything requiring cognition since recovery. To strike the right note for 2017, we inaugurated the year with a midnight run around the Willamette River.

Looking farther into 2017, we are full of hope, dreams and a few reality checks. Jerry plans to bring his ideas to Ziba and head into the world with them, in a quest for clients who think strategically and are willing to see differently. (If you’re curious or know someone who might be, please contact him.) This may sound strange, but Jerry sees Trump’s breaking things (which has unfortunately only just begun) as an unprecedented moment to rethink and reinvent the way we all do things. Our collective interventions are now more necessary than ever, if Trump’s words are to be taken seriously at all.

As Jerry ramps up, April hopes most of all to slow down, travel less and play more. Take fewer engagements, but take them deeper. Do more public speaking and expand her speaking repertoire. Dive into blockchain? Write a book? Much is up for consideration… which feels like the greatest gift of all.

Whereabouts-wise, we know we’ll be in Boston (February), Argentina (March), Boulder + Mexico + Thailand (April), and April will be back in Africa at some point, but other than that it’s all about Stumptown. About Portland: April’s become a huge fan of Yoyoyogi, a lovely yoga studio that’s close by, and we have two new occupants in our flat. One is Alexa, the other we call Gigi, but really they’re an Amazon Echo and a Google Home device. They’re pretty amazing to have around.

If you find yourself in the Pacific NW, please let us know! That’s also a perfect segue to use this as an opportunity for an address book update, as we haven’t been very proactive on that front:

April Rinne & Jerry Michalski
1420 NW Lovejoy Street #515
Portland OR 97209-2745

The year ahead and beyond looks daunting, uncharted and unknown. The last thing we should even fathom doing is putting our heads in the sand or pretending a miracle will happen. Rather, let’s take Jo Cox’s (fellow YGL and UK MP, tragically murdered this summer) words to heart: “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”

With love, joy and gratitude for each of you, for life itself, and for the amazing world we live in,

April & Jerry

Holiday letter 2015!

ආයුබෝවන් (Sinhalese) ~ chào bạn (Vietnamese) ~ g’day (Aussie) ~ halo (Bahasa Indonesian) ~ hej (Danish) ~ halló (Icelandic) ~ ciao (Italian) ~ tere (Estonian) ~ 안녕하세요 (Korean) ~ sveiki (Latvian) ~ guten Tag (German) ~ labas (Lithuanian) ~ هتاف للترحيب (Arabic) ~ salut (French) ~ grüß Gott (Swiss) ~ yo dude (Portland) ~ hello (Singapore, Canada, the UK & US) & happy holidays to our friends, family and loved ones!

Every year, we seem to say “Wow, this year eclipsed all others. How did all that happen?” 2015 is no exception, but we think it’s really really true this year. :)

Here’s the TL;DR version:

  • Stumptown serendipity: Fell head over heels for Portland, Oregon. Bought a lovely little loft there. Roots still in San Francisco but we’re shifting our center of gravity a bit northward in 2016.
  • Lots of sharing: April’s speaking and advisory work has grown nicely, along with the sharing economy. Combine the two, and: she traveled to 17 countries this year — including five (5!) new passport stamps — and was on the road 36 out of 52 weeks. A few too many air miles, but lots of reasons to be grateful.
  • More Brain, more REX: You can find Jerry’s face in the App Store! It’s called Jerry’s Brain. He also started a project with an Australian insurance company to make the Relationship Economy real.
  • Finding our groove: We stretched ourselves a lot — on several occasions we’d look at each other and say, “What are we doing? But it feels right…” and, in retrospect, it was. We started doing co-advisory work opportunistically. Discovered we love it and do it well. Keen to do so more, and more intentionally. We are both represented by the same speaker’s bureau, which we absolutely love. We’re grooving and it feels great.

Now for the full version… returning to January 2015, which feels like at least a decade ago!

We arrived in Portland on New Year’s Eve 2014, and little did we know how it would transform the next year. Our first visit was a combination of memory lane (April had lived there briefly many years ago, in the immediate aftermath of her parents’ accident) and co-advisory work. We liked Portland. It felt good, open, quirky, super-outdoorsy, eminently walkable. It functions better than almost any other city we’ve been to. We left wanting to come back.

So we departed long enough for another trip to Davos, where April spoke in five different sessions. It was distinctly less “wow” than the first time, but we were doubly honored to attend again — and still pinch ourselves at the tremendous community that the World Economic Forum has opened up for us. YGL remains among our biggest sources of joy, friendships and inspiration ever. April stayed on in Switzerland a couple of days to ski, which was more humbling than anything else — though magical to be stuck in an Alpine hut nursing a cup of cocoa, wondering how telemarking seemed so easy as a child. Continue reading “Holiday letter 2015!”

Holiday letter 2014!

Hello friends… or true to form, with greetings from (at least a few places) where we’ve been this year:

Sain bain uu! (Mongolian, but they also say…)

Нохой хор! (“nokhoi khor!,” literally “hold the dog!”)

καλημέρα (Greek)

Hei, kuinka voit (Finnish)

Tere (Estonian)

Hallo hoe gaat het (Dutch)

Dia duit (Irish)

您好 (“ni hao” in Mandarin)

Plus of course the holas, buon giornos, saluts and guten tags you’d expect from places we’ve been before.

2014 has been a doozy. Our first year as Mr. & Mrs. — in this wonderful way, even better than we ever imagined. Our first (and so far only) year of both being almost completely independent professionally, with all the advantages and challenges that presents.

We delivered our first co-keynote speech, which was fabulous fun on all counts. April has a new website, and in a couple weeks, Jerry will be the first person on Earth to have his brain available to all in the App Store (no foolin’!). We ticked off many lifetime bucket-list items, like riding semi-wild horses across the Mongolian steppe and marveling at the beauty of British Columbia. Despite many firsts, however, it’s our umpteenth year feeling incredibly lucky, excited, joyful and in love with life.

So let’s get started with this year’s annual missive!

January 2014 feels like a lifetime ago. We began the year quietly, enjoying a week at Laguna Beach (Jerry taught and April tagged along) and then Jerry took off to Zurich shortly thereafter to teach a group of Swiss and Germans about the Relationship Economy (in English), hosted at a think tank called GDI. From there he went to Geneva to give this talk at LIFT. (What’ll it be? Stalk or serve?)

April ducked to Florida for a quick speech, but made it back in time for her birthday — which Jerry managed to celebrate like none other (including buying a mini version of our wedding cake, which had been eaten by guests before April managed to devour the icing on our special day)!

1402 Vancouver CelebrationFebruary was a busy month with one of the year’s biggest highlights: April’s cross-country Canada Sharing Economy Tour. Over the course of a week, April delivered 15 presentations and other events (yes, 15 in a week) on the sharing economy in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. She collaborated with SiG, the country’s social innovation organization (if only every country had one!) and Cities for People. It was a true delight to play the role of catalyst and guide, and underscored the kinds of things she loves to do — and made plans to do more of…

Continue reading “Holiday letter 2014!”

Holiday letter 2013!


Mingalaba — G’day — Saluti — Bun Di — Greetings!

It seems that each year, when we sit down to write our annual missive, we think “goodness, how could next year possibly top this year?” And then somehow it does. 2013 was definitely among the most notable examples of this. Because of the number and diversity of neat experiences, we’re not able to go into as much detail about each — unless we want to finish in 2020 — but hopefully still a fun read. Here’s to a banner year, now let’s get started!

ceremony-137

TL;DR version: Got married — finally, yaaaaay! Attended Davos. Explored Myanmar for 3 weeks. Built (rather, continue to build) a new company, new role, new speeches, new clients. Went to Australia for the first time. Delighting together in the terms Relationship Economy, Sharing Economy and Collaborative Economy: how are they similar, different, predictive of what’s ahead for the world? April’s travel mileage reduced by ~50% — mostly direct flights to places with no vaccination requirements — which was great, yet somehow didn’t lessen the intensity of our lives.

This also was a year in which we adopted the sharing economy (or collaborative economy — more on the distinction below) in full force as a lifestyle. In particular, this was our Year of Airbnb. Families from around the world have stayed in our home while we’ve been away, and our own travels have been revolutionized in the best of ways. We use it for business trips, personal travel and local getaways. Speaking of which, we’re writing this from an incredible, cozy cabin near Big Sur!

Us in Davos HallBacking up to January 2013, which feels like a decade ago… we were blessed to be invited to the World Economic Forum’s annual summit in Davos. Neither of us has ever experienced anything quite like it. Full security at every building, despite snowcoats and boots with skid-proof grippers. April slept on average 3 hours / night for nine nights straight, and yet was wide-awake in her happy zone. Highlights included presenting in the YGL “state of the world” plenary session, meeting heads of state, world-renowned CEOs, visionaries and even royalty (!) “committed to improving the state of the world” (WEF mission) at every turn.

At one of the receptions, despite being super careful with our gear, a distracted German journalist took Jerry’s laptop bag from right behind him, absconding with all his valuables until we sleuthed what had happened and texted the journalist back toward us. On a more fun front, Jerry discovered a two-hour “Audi driving challenge,” which involved drifting (turning while letting your wheels slide) on an icy slalom course with coaching from professional drivers. We both did an intense poverty simulation, and had very different reactions to it. We left Davos on a high, inspired by the Alpine air, inspiring ideas… and utterly exhausted in the best of ways.

Continue reading “Holiday letter 2013!”

Holiday letter 2012!

Happy Holiday Greetings to All!

As this letter takes shape, April is sitting on the shores of Lake Kivu in northwest Rwanda.  It’s pouring rain outside, with giant hibiscus dancing under the drops. Just a few kilometers down the road is Goma, Congo, where civil unrest rages and the M23 rebels have just taken control of the city.  What she thought was thunder turns out to be gunfire (click the map to make it larger).  Some might say she’s in a war zone, but she just thinks of it as an exciting albeit unexpected travel adventure.  Given that she should probably keep a low profile until the situation settles, this is a terrific opportunity to say muraho (“hello” in the Kinyarwanda language) to our international friends and family of choice!

Jerry may have been a bit further from Congolese rebels and gunfire, but he wasn’t sitting still. For him, 2012 was a year of broadening and deepening the Relationship Economy thesis, manifested in a series of speeches and videos we’ll point to as they happened during the year.

2012 has probably been one of the most intense, learning- and experience-filled years so far for us (though we’ve said that before).  In a word, it’s been extraordinary.  It has not been particularly balanced though – April spent the better part of 8 months on the road – and we are both committed to spending more time together, even if not always at home.

Because of all that’s happened, a caveat that this letter is long is probably in order.  We’ve received loads of wonderful feedback over the years saying “please, share more!”, but we also realize that not everyone wants to read everything. We hope you’ll take this in stride and enjoy however much (or little) feels right. So let’s get started… Continue reading “Holiday letter 2012!”

Happy Holidays 2011!

Happy 2011 Holiday Greetings to Loved Ones Around the World!

What a year it has been: many highlights, many travels, a few challenges and heaps of gratitude.  It’s hard to believe – and a tad embarrassing – that we didn’t manage interim updates here since last year’s holiday missive, but perhaps that’s indicative of how occupied we’ve been with living life in the present.  Now it’s time to make up for that and provide a past-present-future update.  So, here we go!

2011 in a nutshell:  A year of goodness, happiness and restlessness.  A year in which we remained engaged-but-still-not-married.  A year in which April took at least one international trip per month for eight out of ten consecutive months and somehow managed to remember the time zone when she got home.  A year of REXiness for Jerry, building on the REXpedition platform he described in last year’s letter, and including REXperiments and more (keep reading).  A year in which we gave thanks every day for our blessings (we love this TED talk about gratitude), and remembered that our worries are pretty “lucky worries.”  A year of good health, more time with our families-of-choice, adventures, blending new and old friendships, and deep anticipation of what is to come.

Rewinding to January, we took a quick getaway to Laguna Beach, where Jerry played faculty to a group of public affairs pros (for him, kinda like being in the lion’s den, something he loves) while April enjoyed Laguna’s “winter.”  Big news came at the end of the month, when April learned she had been selected as a Young Global Leader (YGL) by the World Economic Forum – yes, the folks in Davos.  This honor framed the rest of the year in the most incredible and memorable of ways (which you’ll see peppered throughout this update; hear more of her views on global leadership in this video done for WEF).

In short, April gets to be a YGL formally for five years, during which time there are a variety of summits, forums, task forces (on everything from water to urban mobility, dignity, youth financial education and happiness) and other initiatives to join.  She’s part of the WEF community which comes with all kinds of perks – not least, the people!  It was hard for her to keep this information confidential for six weeks like WEF required; her poker face is pretty bad.  Meanwhile Jerry wonders if there is an Old Global Wizards club that he might join… (hey!) Continue reading “Happy Holidays 2011!”

Holiday letter 2010

Dear Friends, Families of Choice and All-Other-Wonderful-People-In-Our-Lives,

Happy, festive holiday greetings!  We hope this finds you thriving and having enjoyed a fulfilling year.  We’re not quite sure where the time went, except quickly and full of neat and meaningful experiences.  And before you wonder (or lest we leave you in suspense), we’re still engaged but not married, still haven’t set a date, still overwhelmingly grateful for each other, and still appreciate life’s myriad blessings every day.

On the beach in San DiegoAlso before you ask about our globetrotting this year, let’s just say that April started writing this letter in the Himalaya… but that’s getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s go back to the decade’s beginning first.

2010 got off to a great start, with a happily laid-back schedule compared to last fall’s whirlwind travels.  April took work trips to Toronto, New York City (where she met Natalie Portman at a SoHo gym!) and Kansas City.  She continues to enjoy leading WaterCredit at Water.org, which is expanding in exciting ways (keep reading) and gives her ample opportunity to learn and grow professionally.  In February, Jerry hosted the latest of the agenda-less Retreats he’s run since 1996, this time at the Marconi Center near Point Reyes. At 90 people, this one was the largest ever, and full of good people + good ideas + good intent as always.  We took many a weekend cycling diversion, especially as April got a new bicycle (christened Silke) – happy to be two-together-on-two-wheels again!

In March April took her first of two trips (this year) to India.  She got to experience World Water Day first-hand at one of the largest such gatherings in the world in Tamil Nadu (watch this video, with nifty time-lapse starting at :52). She also got pretty horribly ill, prompting her first trip to an India doctor, which turned out to be a memorable lesson in the kindness of colleagues and strangers.  On the way back she swung through Cambridge, Massachusetts for more meetings and a bonus Beantown happy hour with some of you.

From April (the month) through June, we were both hard at work.  There were a few updates on the home front – a rebuilt deck, a stolen motorcycle (RIP Thumper, we miss you) – though rather miraculously neither an iPhone 4 nor an iPad showed up on our doorstep. (That will change in 2011 for sure!)  We ran the Bay to Breakers together; it was Jerry’s first time experiencing the only-in-SF-costume-party-you-call-this-a-run? extravaganza.  We took some independent work-related travels, April to Washington DC, NYC and KC (again) and Jerry to Paris.  And perhaps most memorably, we enjoyed several local getaways together:  Cavallo Point (part of Jerry’s IFTF advisory work during the year); Carmel for seaside and sunshine (on a different gig of Jerry’s); and a gorgeous, hiking-and-wildflowers Point Reyes home-swap. Continue reading “Holiday letter 2010”

Holiday letter 2009

Eid Sa’eed (Arabic) – Christmas aur Nav Varsh ki hardik shubkamnay (Hindi) – Trevlig Helg (Swedish) – Melkin Yelidet Beaal (Amharic) – Krismasi Njema (Kiswahili) – Buone Feste (Italian) – Frohe Weinachten (German) – Christmas Mattrum Inia Puthaandu Nal Valthukkal (Tamil)

Warm, Happy Holiday Greetings to All!

We hope this finds you well and enjoying the holiday season in peace and among loved ones.  What an extraordinary year it has been, once again full of changes (mostly wonderful, alongside a few hiccups), international travels, fulfilling work, friends and gratitude for each day and one another.  We’ve also both found our Twitter-strides, so if you’re looking for even more details about what we’ve seen you might want to check out our Twitter streams too (Jerry and April).

Last we checked in (at least for those of you not checking our website or April’s blog more often), we had just returned from east Africa and were gearing up for “a year of being open” to the world.  It’s probably safe to say: mission accomplished!  Wow.  So let’s take a deep dive into this year (you’ll understand the water analogy soon) and what we’ve been up to.

January seems like a very long time ago.  We spent a lovely week in Atlanta with April’s Italian family.  April decided to leave her job at Unitus (come March) because it wasn’t a good match for her longer-term professional goals (in particular, not wanting to be pigeon-holed into “lawyerly” responsibilities). Later that same week, on April’s birthday, Jerry proposed! The setting: Crissy Field in view of the Golden Gate Bridge, on a glorious sunny day, under a stand of maritime pine trees. April was caught completely off guard – and very happy.

Continue reading “Holiday letter 2009”

Holiday letter 2008

Holiday Greetings, dear friends!

Hujambo – Namaste – Seulam – Bună ziua – Здравей – Goddag – Saludos – Saluti!

We hope this finds you happy, healthy and enjoying this year’s holiday season and the myriad reasons to be excited about 2009 and beyond. Despite the global turmoil swirling around us all, hope and change are also afoot – always remembering that we are still among the most fortunate people in the world for the blessings and opportunities that we have.

This has been an intense, challenging and rewarding year for both Jerry and me. Lots of adventures together – from the Serengeti (east Africa) to Tamil Nadu (southern India) to rural Bulgaria, along with those closer to home in San Francisco. Lots of work – Jerry’s consultancy continues to flourish (see his website, blog, tweets and photostream), and my legal and strategic role with Unitus, and continued law-and-microfinance teaching for IDLO keep me more than busy. Oh, and I blog, tweet and post photos online too! Thankfully this year has also included lots of fun, so let’s begin the annual review…

The first couple of months of 2008 were all about change and adjustment for me (with Jerry as loving observer and coach). In my new position as Director of Venture Development for Unitus, almost every day has meant some new challenge or opportunity to tackle. Unitus does both non-profit and for-profit investment in international microfinance, which basically means that we’re on the cutting edge of the sector. Some of my favorite projects have included establishing a merchant bank for microfinance institutions (MFIs) called Unitus Capital, establishing a Unitus office in Kenya, and working with lawyers from around the world. It’s been fascinating to learn about everything from Indian employment law to Singaporean tax law.

We managed a long weekend getaway to Big Sur in January but otherwise stayed nearby until mid-March, when we headed to southern India for 3 weeks. The main purpose of the trip was to teach the next IDLO microfinance installment in Chennai (Madras) – especially because Jerry has also now been taken on as IDLO faculty and teaches a module on ‘Social Media for MFIs’ so it’s truly a tandem collaboration.  After time in the capital of Tamil Nadu, we headed south to Mamallapuram and saw the areas directly devastated by the 2004 tsunami. From there Jerry had to head back to the U.S. while I continued on to Pondicherry (and the wacky yoga-utopia of Sri Aurobindo‘s ashram and ‘international peace community’ of Auroville) and then over into the region of Karnataka, spending time in Bangalore (where Unitus also has an office) and the fantastic cultural capital of Mysore. It was great to have an opportunity to travel ‘on my own’ again like years past, though I must admit I far prefer having Jerry along as a travel-adventure-life partner – so much more fun! Continue reading “Holiday letter 2008”

Holiday letter 2007

Happy Holiday Greetings!

Wow… I think that 2007 might be the most enjoyable annual letter I have ever written – and at least parts of it might even shock (and hopefully delight) you. What a year it has been!

Last year at this time, I was ‘looking forward to more roots, more microfinance, more time playing outdoors and hopefully at least a few more interesting travels,’ ‘spending more time with friends and loved ones’ and ‘might buy a (small!) place in San Francisco.’ Well, all that has happened and then some – including situations and opportunities that have prompted me into expanding and refreshing my own perspective and outlook on life – most of all, meeting the man with whom I plan to spend the rest of my life. So as I often say in my travelogues, if you are interested please keep reading…

January and February were fun, mellow months, filled with weekend kayaking and hiking excursions, time with old and new friends, and deepening my knowledge of quirky Bay Area locales – wine bars, farmers markets, staircases, boutiques, trails and the like. I regularly took advantage of nearby Point Reyes and Marin for getaways and enjoyed simply being in one place long enough to do things like participate in a book club and purchase a (pink!) kayak. In January I went to a Patagonian reunion with dear travel friends in Texas and to NYC for a Wall Street microfinance conference. February meant the 7th annual Valentine-A-Thon with dear law school friends in Minneapolis (read: group of women + hearts + homemade chocolates + wine + the coldest weekend on record, -38ºF!), and in March I went to DC for work and an overdue visit.

Otherwise, my biggest time commitment in the spring was tackling the San Francisco real estate market. What an experience! I spent several weeks exploring neighborhoods (where is too hilly for any sane person to jog? where are coffeehouses within reasonable walking distance? where can I practice my Spanish just walking down the street?), made a couple of offers ‘just to learn the ropes,’ and then at the end of March fortuitously stumbled upon the place I now call home.

1133 Church Street is a 1908 Edwardian in the heart of Noe Valley (sandwiched between Mission Dolores and Cole Valley, more or less). It is the largest place I have lived since high school – 3 bedroom / 1 bath – though still compact by most North American standards. When I first moved in, it echoed – but I figured it was better to have a nest I could grow into. One of the bedrooms was slated as an office (or as I like to call it, my ‘inspiration room’ – full of maps, travel guides and photographs) and the other as a guest room. It has a lovely terrace / deck with views of the Transamerica building and SOMA, the East Bay towards Berkeley, and Potrero Hill. The bells of the nearby Mission are audible and remind me of Italy, my commute to the office at the Embarcadero means a 10 minute walk to BART plus an 8 minute train ride, and – despite the butterflies that stayed in my stomach for a few weeks – I am completely smitten with the place.

In April I went back to Cambridge for the first time since graduation. It was a fun ‘trip down memory lane,’ and I participated in microfinance symposiums at microfinance The Fletcher School and Harvard Business School. I also continued my quest to connect microfinance with the legal community, which has resulted in some 250+ attorneys at my law firm (and many others from elsewhere) expressing interest in the sector, the introduction of 17 new microfinance clients to my firm, projects underway globally, and gradually becoming known as a law-and-microfinance ‘expert’ of sorts. I am thrilled with this progress, which happened more quickly than I ever expected – more on what this means for me below…

So now, fast forward to June – and one of the most amazing, wonderful things that has ever happened to me. June 5 (the 13th anniversary of my parents’ accident, for those of you who have known me that long) I met the person who I have since come to know as my life partner, soul mate, best friend, fellow travel adventurer, handstand companion and future collaborator. His name is Jerry Michalski, and the joke is that he Googles well (see his website www.sociate.com, for starters) but in-person introductions are far preferable. We have more complementary interests and strengths than I can recount, and which continue to grow every day.

Jerry is American but was raised in Peru and Argentina (his Mom was born in Germany and met his American Dad in Cochabamba, Bolivia – our fathers seem to have shared a passion for exploration). We both love foreign languages, international travel (and now, together too!) and ‘bucking the trend’

generally in order to do things joyfully and in our own way. Jerry is an independent consultant who focuses on new media, social networks and the ‘relationship economy’ – a job that is wonderfully flexible and lends itself to collaboration – for which I will be eternally grateful in many ways…

and now, some words from Jerry himself!

Thanks, Love! Gratitude is definitely in the air, as is amazement. On June 5, I really didn’t know what I was getting into. Nor did I understand the significance of that day, the depth and love of the woman for whom that day is special, or the beauty of the community that surrounds her. Now I’m starting to; it’s a delightful journey. I’ve already met a whole bunch of members of that community. I look forward to meeting you all over time. For now, though, back to trimming our first Christmas tree together.

Summertime as a whole this year was basically a blur for me, and focused entirely on Jerry and our blossoming relationship. What fun! We spent endless weeks going back-and-forth between his treehouse-home in the Berkeley hills and my city-pad in Noe Valley, went for rides in his 1962 Sunbeam convertible named Fiona, shared many long days full of iced coffee and sunshine, and marveled at the joys of getting to know one another better. During this time I was also blessed by a fun-filled long weekend visit by my ‘Italian sister’ Jessica (the most uber-full weekend I can remember!) and other reunions with dear out-of-town friends. In August I took a mini-vacation to attend a local travel writing and photography conference that I had dreamed about for many years… and which also served to reconnect me with aspects of my past and look towards the future in new and inspiring ways (including a reinvigorated interest in ‘doing something more’ with my travelogues). Stay tuned!

Jerry and I spent the summer locally based in part because we knew that much of the fall would be spent traveling. Indeed, between Labor Day and Thanksgiving we took 6 trips together (2 of which were international), and Jerry made an additional 3 business-related trips. It was the first time I have traveled (or shared a suitcase – !!) with another person, and although initially I was nervous about how things might go, I now can vouch first-hand for how doing so can bring extra joy, enhance the experiences and broaden one’s perspective. Jerry and I are definitely ‘cut from similar cloth’ in this regard. Yippee!

Our first destination was Cambridge, for the wedding of law school friends of mine and an opportunity for us to retrace steps from that chapter of my life. (The weekend in-between we moved in together.  Wheeee!) Next came China, where we did tandem handstands on the Great Wall (seriously!), jogged around Tiananmen Square, rode bicycles around Beijing, and I taught lawyers and policy makers from China and elsewhere in Southeast Asia about the legal aspects of international microfinance. Then came two domestic trips – first to Arizona for my grandmother’s 90th birthday party and where Jerry met many other family members (including Allison, Stefan, Ella and Amelia), and then Palm Springs for a conference. A few days later, we were off to Mexico – first Oaxaca for one of Jerry’s extraordinary ‘retreats’ and a mini-vacation that coincided with the exquisite Day of the Dead celebrations, then on to Mexico City where I taught more lawyers and policy folks about law-and-microfinance in Latin America – in Spanish. Finally, we spent several days at Thanksgiving with Jerry’s Mother in northern Virginia. Our together-travels were terrific – eye-opening and exhilarating shared adventures, and contact with so many wonderful people. Combining work and meaningful travel is highly recommended, and we are now exploring ways to facilitate more opportunities to do this moving forward.

There is more shared excitement for 2008 and beyond than either Jerry or I perhaps has ever felt. Most of all we look forward to building our ‘raft,’ which hopefully will enable us to collaborate together (the use of new media in the microfinance sector, for starters) with flexibility and on our own terms. Although I recently announced my ‘professional independence’ from law firm life, it appears that may not last long as I was offered what seems to be a dream opportunity in the microfinance sector, details of which should stay under wraps for now (but I am excited beyond words). I also plan to resume writing in greater earnest, focusing on responsible travel and economic development (blogging is soon to be underway – please feel free to bookmark www.aprilkrinne.com and www.borrowinggreatideas.com  – and I’ll post links to photo albums too). We already have work-related trips planned abroad to India, Romania and Tanzania, and are having fun figuring out whether we will tack on camel rides, safaris or further-flung adventures to those journeys. Closer to home, we plan to spend time in New York, DC, Colorado, Big Sur and wherever else friends and family may give us reason to go. We ponder whether we might explore Hanoi, Havana or Auckland together first – as a place perhaps to spend more time off-and-on in the future? – but all in due course. We have enough to contemplate and be joyful about as it is, and most of all just want to enjoy these special times and one another. And, I still have to get used to the word ‘we’!

As always, out of sight is not out of mind and it would be wonderful to hear from you and how you are doing. If you do not yet have it, updated home and contact information for both of us is below. Sending you love and warm wishes for a meaningful, peaceful and mindful year.

April Rinne & Jerry Michalski