As chill winds descend from the north and leaves turn to yellow and red, fall, and crunch underfoot, I wish we could huddle together, sharing hot drinks and thoughts, and feeling comfort in one another’s presence. Instead, we congregate over Zoom calls and emails, seeking connectedness in the harsh cold glares of our computer screens.
So I’m emailing you again; to tell you about my last few months; to try to keep the interpersonal connections that I have; to try and grow the connections that I don’t have; and to connect with you in whatever way is available to me.
Here’s a summary of what I’ve been up to. It’s dry reading, to be sure, but I am looking for help with many of the ongoing and upcoming projects. If you’d like to be involved, please look to the end of the post. I’ve listed out a few areas that may be able to use your help.
There’s not much to do while living in the countryside of a new country weathering a pandemic. I have no social life as a result, but at least I’ve found some of the past months to have been extremely productive.
In short, between August 1st and October 16th, I’ve started a new project for bicycle wayfinding, progressed on learning Dutch, done too little activism, and completed stacks of administrative paperwork:
BikePoints, a project to create Dutch style way-finding networks in the US, has consumed roughly 38% of my effort. Over the period, a friend and I were able to program a proof-of-concept bike network and produce a blog post. Following this, I was able to submit a proposal to the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts, which city Councilor Zondervan has been helpful in supporting.
The BikePoints sits on the intersection of several interests for me, including public service, transit infrastructure, data science, and environmentalism. I am doing this work entirely pro-bono in hopes that the cities of Somerville and Cambridge make use of the concept. However, I hope to eventually spin it into a stand-alone business.
I expect to set up a proper BikePoints website, work on some of the technologies behind bike points, and spend some time understanding what motivates local governments to pick up such projects like this.
Dutch has consumed 29% of my recent effort, and has progressed to A1 level. Over the period, I did the following:
The exam, in addition to giving me some confidence, has exposed some of my weaknesses in the language. This should help study smarter and faster going forward.
In the upcoming months, I will be working on my conversational Dutch skills by reading and watching Dutch-language children’s books and TV shows, while continuing with my audio and vocabulary courses. I need a bit of a grammar break for now.
Activism has consumed 12% of my recent effort, with little to show for it. My remote location, unpredictable COVID-19 restrictions, and the language barrier have all made it extremely difficult to coordinate within Dutch-speaking groups, as was my previous plan.
As a result, I’ve written a few pieces and attended an established activist group’s retreat weekend , but otherwise failed to become meaningfully involved in ongoing activist projects.
In the upcoming months, I hope to write one or more pieces for the Extinction Rebellion blog, and to work with English-speaking financial activist groups in the US and UK on whatever it is they need done. I’m particularly interested in exploring actions supporting universal ownership and divestment from debt markets.
Personal tasks have consumed 21% of my recent effort, including visa and unemployment paperwork (8%) and learning Emacs (3%). This has allowed me to apply for Dutch residency and submit most of my unemployment paperwork.
Visa and unemployment paperwork are ever-present drags on my productivity. Documents are in Dutch and German (respectively) and procedures are in perpetual flux due to COVID-19, office closings, and travel restrictions. The resulting work is difficult to plan but easy to underestimate. I frequently have to drop everything to deal with paperwork, or face even more of it later on.
I do not expect the bureaucratic burden to lessen. In the upcoming period, I will need to change my address to the Netherlands, transfer my insurance, and somehow procure a temporary visa while my residence permit works its way through the Dutch immigration and naturalization service. The best I can do is to try to estimate paperwork more liberally, and be better at turning in forms sooner.
I would welcome help in any of the following areas. In all of the below cases, I would love to share credit. My email address is
al [at] [this domain name], though you can also reach me at my contact page.
My activism efforts will involve writing two more pieces on the Extinction Rebellion global blog, while BikePoints involves writing copy for the BikePoints website.
I welcome harsh editing and criticism of my writing. If you would like to contribute your editing skills, please get in touch.
I may be collaborating with a former colleague on some of the Extinction Rebellion blog pieces, and would welcome additional co-authors.
The Extinction Rebellion blog pieces can benefit from illustrations of environmental and financial concepts. If you are interested in illustrating climate truths or financial concepts, please get in touch.
The BikePoints project can benefit from an additional champion in the Cambridge, Medford, and Somerville city councils, planning departments, and bicycle committees. If you are interested in helping Cambridge, Massachusetts adopt BikePoints and have personal connections in either of these organizations, please get in touch.
The BikePoints project can additionally benefit from some level-headed discussions about public infrastructure and revenue streams. If you have a background in public infrastructure, signage, or other bicycle infrastructure, and are interested in lending your knowledge, please get in touch.
Much of my work is based on expert insights from within my community:
If you would like to lend your knowledge, insights, and ideas on finance, public infrastructure, gathering marketing data, or other topics you think may be relevant, please reach out.
If you would like to receive emails with similar pieces I write, or if you would prefer not to continue receiving list emails, please let me know at https://albertrcarter.com/contact.