Exploring Connections: How I met Megan Deal
(photo credit: I stole it from Megan’s facebook)
If I learned anything early on in my professional life (let’s be honest, it wasn’t anything but a typhoon of one lesson after another), it was that it never hurts to send an email. The worst thing that can happen is someone can say “no” or simply ignore it. Big whoop.
While job searching after college (badly positioned in my hometown in Alabama and only looking everywhere but there), a bit more than I wanted a job, I wanted an adventure. I came across Project M and that there would be a session in Alabama coming soon. It was too late to apply, but I still wanted to check out what they were doing. I stalled my email to John B. directly because I was a bit intimidated (turns out I shouldn’t have been). Then on Swissmiss a few days later saw a post about a young designer, Megan Deal, selling everything that didn’t fit in her car and moving to Alabama with a Project M initiative, PieLab (among a million other projects she worked on that year). She had launched goodbyewafflemaker.com where she was selling her belongings. I thought it was brilliant and decided that since she was a girl and young she would be more accessible to email (though one, still a really dumb thought, and two, I had her pictured as older than me and having everything figured out, but I’m actually a few months older and we have navigated together the treacherous waters of the 20’s together as we “figure it all out”). She graciously emailed me back and we briefly met her first week in Alabama at a design talk presenting what Project M was. I was enamored by the whole shebang and we made plans for me to head to Greensboro for the weekend and check out what all would be happening there.
I made the three hour drive, met her and a whole crew of folks on the porch of PieLab, at the time, an old wooden schoolhouse tucked on a side street. We connected immediately—I found her sensibilities quite different and interesting, her being her midwestern and me very southern. I loved her analytical mind and how reflective she is, always asking the hard questions; but also her attitude to get the work done no matter what it required, be it a literal shovel or a laptop.
That weekend visit turned into me going home, packing my bags and returning for several months of helping develop PieLab, exploring new depths of design, and delving into the joys and trials of rural life. One perk of living in the middle of nowhere with a small group of young people from all corners of the States and a few from abroad, is that you have time and space for long dinners—potluck, where everyone happened to be a great cook. The wine would flow in the hodgepodge glasses from the thrift store; the back door open letting in a breeze. Dusk would turn to night and the conversations would roll on. Naturally anyone working on this kind of project (and those of Rural Studio nearby) is a bit of a dreamer. I’m sure we had some notions so idealistic that to hear them repeated now we would probably keel over with laughter, but there were also lessons and revelations, processing and dreaming, from that era that have molded very important strands in all of our formation as designers and citizens, for which I am very proud and thankful.
We all got a bit antsy after things began to change and all went on to new ventures, an often criticized characteristic of young designers, but at that age I think it’s also a natural cycle. However, our friendship remains and we continue to share our developments from across the oceans. She’s the one who has suggested continuing a blog as a “practice platform” and sticking to action plans—hence the very random posts the last few days. Having creative community to push you is absolutely fundamental (another spot-on Swissmiss/99u find recently quoted the fantastic Seth Godin: “Association: Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with. And the collisions and the dreams lead to your changes.And the changes are what you become.Change the outcome by changing your circle.”).
One email re-directed my career search and because of the era it led to in my life, it led to even more connections, even the love of my life—stay tuned.