While trying to articulate the vision of Carpe Ventus we regularly felt that context was needed. Why are we so passionate about this? Why do this now? What is the point?
Getting to all of this in simple, memorable and sticky statements is a challenge - the vision has history, the mission has context, the strength and commitment behind this venture we call Carpe Ventus is stitched together with dreams, struggles, tears, failures and maturing. It has been a process and will always be a journey taken one step after the other...seizing the wind one opportunity at a time.
My wife and I started our family and began raising our three small kids on the west side of Chicago. This gave me some first-hand insight into some of the challenges that people face as they grow up in an under-resourced community. If I thought I understood, this experience showed me I’m pretty far from understanding; but, I grew a lot. Those five years were an intense schooling in humility, listening and learning.
At one point, I channeled my irritation with the vandalism of unsupervised kids into organizing a skateboard mentoring program which connected me with a mentee that my family and I have been friends with for years now. We experienced how learning a new action sport can be a great foundation for a friendship that crosses normal barriers. After that, I had a hard time finding adults who were interested in skateboarding so the mentor pool seemed somewhat shallow, but it has not been difficult to find adults who know how or would like to learn to sail and are willing to be a mentor or instructor/coach in that context.
I have been inspired by the value of taking life-giving risks and learning team work that are inherent in wind-riding activities (sailing, windsurfing and kiteboarding) as well as how these experiences are good preparation for leadership and entrepreneurship. Through pairing the skills and dynamics of wind-riding activities with life skills and principles in the context of mentorship around wind sports, Carpe Ventus creates an environment where relationships and conversation can naturally go deeper. Research shows that relationships outside a persons’ “normal” circle of influence are a key factor in breaking the cycle of generational poverty. Going through a challenge and learning a new skill together is a catalyst for bonding.
As I have pursued opportunities to retreat from the city and get out into nature for my own well-being, I have realized that the lake is the nearest natural environment to much of the City of Chicago and getting on the water provides a unique space to interact with nature and develop new perspectives. Carpe Ventus will provide access to the lake for the next generation that in some cases has literally never seen Lake Michigan.
Ever since I can remember I have been fascinated by boats, sailing, tall ships and nautical history. I grew up next to Lake Huron on a small point between two bays. When I was too small to drive or sail my own boat I spent a lot of time looking through National Geographic’s Men, Ships and the Sea, I drew pictures of boats, I “designed” and even wrote and roped my friends into performing a song about loving boats at a talent show. I spent most of one summer on a raft of logs I built with some friends, poling up and down the bay catching clams. When I was ten I learned to sail a Sunfish and my own sailing ventures began. Around that time I was so determined to build an iceboat whose plan I found in The American Boy’s Handy Book, that my dad was concerned I would hurt myself and joined the project. We built two more after that and iceboating on miles of glass ice became a source of many good memories with family and friends!
I could share story after story of sailing, iceboating, the pirate years (complete with costumes, water balloons and buckets), the several small, but significant boats I have owned, windsurfing, kiteboarding and even ice kiting on a flooded, frozen park among soccer goals on the west side of Chicago! The risks, the mishaps and most of all the relationships through it all have profoundly influenced me and I want to share what I can with those among the next generation in Chicago who do not even have the option to access our nearest natural environment. Imagine that instead of dropping out of school and generating a prison cell in the process young leaders find new passion and goals.
I want Carpe Ventus to create a mountaintop experience in the flat lands shaping perspectives forever, to see people take wings and soar as they overcome fear and we evaluate risks together.