Story by Margaret Connors, BA ’17
About a year ago, UO School of Journalism and Communication alumni Lorin Anderberg, BA ’16, and Catherina Savattere, BA ’15, were searching for some answers. Like many recent SOJC grads, they were passionate about storytelling and eager to apply the skills they’d learned in J-school in the real world.
“It was in this fertile time in my life,” said Savattere, “that Lorin tossed the seed of the idea that we should partner on a project together.”
So they did. The two women began planning a bike trip across the country, from Anacortes, Wa., to Brooklyn, N.Y., which they would document through a blog and social media campaign focusing on personal empowerment and social action.
Common interests and good timing
As California natives with active childhoods, Anderberg and Savattere were not intimidated by the idea of biking such a long distance.
Over the years, Anderberg said, “Long road trips have turned into traveling abroad, hikes have transitioned into backpacking trips, and I’ve developed a passion for photography, multimedia and music.”
You’ll notice that bicycling is not on that list. “I did not have a functioning bike at the time, nor had I ever ridden a bike farther than 10 miles before,” she admitted. “But somehow this fact never concerned me or made me feel like I wouldn’t be able to ride 3,000 miles.”
Savattere says her childhood was “centered on interacting with the physical world — being outside and learning about the systems of life.” She has also always had a fervor for writing and started playing around with the family video camera at age 9. That’s also when she decided to become a journalist.
“It wasn’t until college that I realized that my journalistic road didn’t have to diverge from my passion for film,” she said.
The duo met at the SOJC, where they were both looking for creative stimulation and ways to incorporate their passion projects into their coursework. Anderberg majored in advertising, while Savattere focused on journalism. Both were interested in issues such as climate change, human rights, health, unity and equality.
For Anderberg and Savattere, the trip came at a time of uncertainty in their lives. Anderberg had just returned from studying abroad and found herself struggling to adjust to life back in Eugene for her last term of college. Meanwhile, Savattere was job searching in Los Angeles with all her belongings packed in her car. Anderberg suggested that the two create something together instead of trying to find a job right after graduation.
Savattere moved back to Eugene, and the two began the arduous process of planning. Over the course of three to four months, the pair met a few times a week to research, collect gear, find bikes and sponsors, and work out a plan to produce media along the way. They built a blog, crafted a mission statement, contacted local bike shops, attended outdoor trip info sessions at the UO’s OP Barn, watched videos and read blogs about bike touring, and so much more. They pitched their trip to bike shops around Eugene and made great connections and found people who were eager to help the two enthusiastic women get started.
Campaign on wheels
As if planning an intensive bike trek wasn’t demanding enough, Anderberg and Savattere decided to also create a social media campaign called “Let’s Be Here” to engage and inform others during their trip.
“‘Let’s Be Here’ is the manifestation of my and Lorin’s guiding life philosophies,” said Savattere. “Every word has its own meaning that crafts the heart of the campaign. ‘Let’s’ is all-inclusive, a reminder that this project is for all genders, ethnicities and ages. ‘Be’ is a reminder that we are alive and we play an active role in life. ‘Here’ brings the project back to the tangible; it ties us to where we physically are in time and space.”
Anderberg and Savattere sought to create content that would not only shed light on important issues, but also give their audience context showing how problems could be or are being fixed. With messages such as exploring “the power of human spirit and curiosity in finding practical/achievable solutions to humanity's current problems” and “Let's make this world a reflection of our ideals,” the campaign bridged the realms of personal development and social action.
During the trip, the pair posted on Facebook and Instagram photographs documenting their daily travel and the people they met on their journey, reposts about current issues in the world, and blog posts from both Anderberg and Savaterre’s perspectives.
Anderberg and Savattere encouraged their campaign’s new online community to think critically about the reality of their lives and how that connects to the realities others live. “What perspective do you have that could help alleviate a problem, or add to a solution,” they asked on the campaign Facebook page. “Perhaps in attempting to help someone else, you'll find a new way to help yourself too.”
While on the road, they asked several people about the personal solutions they've found to better their lives. They took photos of some of their subjects and published their answers with their photos on social media.
One thing the women did not anticipate was how hard it would be to produce content on the road. They learned that, as journalists, capturing the right moment is imperative for effectively sharing the story.
“It’s hard to know when to be in the moment and when to film, and then that all has to match up with how everyone feels about that moment being filmed,” explained Savattere. “When there’s so much life being constantly lived and experienced, it’s hard for me not to feel that I missed a lot, whether the camera is on or off. I suppose the trip is making me push through my idealistic barriers to create the best out of what I can realistically get.”
The next chapter
Fast forward to today: Anderberg and Savattere have arrived in Brooklyn, where they live at the culmination point — physically and metaphorically — of their journey. Now they’re both working and exploring in New York while allowing themselves to reflect on the last 20-something years of their lives.
Let’s Be Here is still in its post-production phase, as the two juggle a new city, new jobs and new adventures.
“I like to think that this bike trip was extensive field research for ‘Let’s Be Here,’ and that there will be more to come,” said Anderberg. “Even if Cat and I don’t continue to produce, I have adopted the philosophy that we created together, and it continues to be a prominent aspect of my approach to life and creativity.”
The stories these women tell of their journey from the SOJC to the road and on to the next chapter of their lives provide an inspiring glimpse into their creative and contemplative life. It’s an experience they wouldn’t give up for anything.
“I encourage anyone who needs an outlet post-grad to take on a trip that will test them and push them to expand their existence,” Savattere advised. “Keeping off the freeways and out of cars allows us to experience so much more of life — it allows us to use our bodies, to connect with strangers and to be incredibly grateful and satisfied at the end of every day spent in the open air.”
Anderberg concurs. “I think that getting off the beaten path as early as possible is a good idea,” she said. “Life gets complicated in beautiful ways as we get older, but post-grad is the perfect time to check yourself and figure out what you value and why you value it. If you feel in tune with yourself and what you want to do with your life, then anything is possible.”
Margaret Connors recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the SOJC. This was her first year interning for the SOJC Communication Office. Previously, she was an intern for The Big Issue SA, for which she traveled around South Africa finding stories and learning about the industry. This summer, she is traveling the globe, and she is eager to create and share ethical, authentic and passionate work with the world. You can follow her on Instagram @marge.elizabeth.