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Suttons Bay man celebrates face-to-face communication, walks 3,200 miles across US

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Courtesy of Chris Andrews
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Chris Andrews walked to the Grand Canyon with the Let's Talk project.

Chris Andrews, a native of Suttons Bay, walked 3,200 miles across the United States back in 2016.

His motivation, he said, was to spread “a simple message about finding balance in how we use our digital devices.”

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Credit Courtesy of Chris Andrews
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Chris Andrews speaks at schools to spread the Let's Talk project's message.

The plan started when he was in his third year of college, two years before he set out on his journey.

“I was, you know, basically in such a close relationship with my phone,” he said. “It was the first thing I did when I woke up and the last thing I did when I went to bed, and I knew there was something that was unhealthy about that.”

He said it seemed like a huge issue – his friends and family had the same kind of relationships to their phones as he did. He'd also seen the mental health research.

“Our youth is more depressed or anxious than ever,” he said. “Our adults are just as sucked in as the children.”

“I thought, if I can grab people’s attention, then maybe I can start to move the needle on the way we perceive the value of simple face-to-face conversation – life beyond the screen,” he said. “And so, I thought, you know what, maybe if I walked across the country, people would say, ‘Wait a second. You know, what is this guy doing and why is he doing it?’"

Andrews began his Let's Talk journey in Washington D.C. in August. He walked towards Nashville, and through Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas. He then took a lateral turn and walked until he arrived in Los Angeles in March.

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Credit Courtesy of Chris Andrews
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Inside the cart Chris Andrews pushed as he walked across the United States.

He said he walked between 20 and 30 miles a day, went through seven pairs of shoes, slept on more than 50 lawns, and had more than 10,000 conversations with people along the way.

“As I made my way west, what surprised me about this journey is that the act of walking for 210 days, for 3,000 miles, gave me answers to the question of what is at stake,” he said, “and, in simple terms, that is connection to ourselves and connection to the people around us.”

For the full conversation, listen above. You’ll hear some of “Angelfish,” part of the album Andrews (or C. Burrows, his stage name) wrote on his journey across the United States. You'll also hear about future plans for the Let's Talk project.

Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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