Funded! This project was successfully funded on April 7, 2012.


To Be Brave is a self-published book project about reshaping the American dream.

The Idea

You've most likely heard about, met or even told tales of people who've become modern folklore by acting on what the rest of us would leave as recurring daydreams or coffee shop musings. They follow through with thoughts about a project or a job or a journey or a belief, recognizing the risks and shaping a curious and unique life around these ideas. Sometimes for a little while. Sometimes for decades. Sometimes over and over.

This sense of re-evaluating and challenging what we define as a successful, meaningful life is an increasingly noticeable trend in our country. The way we feel about our government, how we're becoming ever more connected, our sense of wanting to improve and care for the environment, the world, and the people we share it with, are changing dramatically.

On April 13th I'm taking leave from all things routine to load up the car with cameras and paper and pens and camping gear, and driving across the country to visit five remarkable individuals who've challenged what was in front of them and made drastic changes to create a life that felt truer to their values. I'll be asking them how they came to these realizations, what it felt like when they decided to abandon their traditional paths and what they risked and gained by choosing a future that was full of uncertainty and adventure. I'll also be asking them about their approach to life, their thoughts on aging and death and how they see the American dream evolving amongst their friends and communities.

Throughout this trip I'll be sharing coffee, camping out with and staying on the couches of friends and friends of friends, asking them a few of these big questions as well, and getting a sense of how people from all different ages and walks of life feel about these issues.

When I return to Austin in late May I'll be compiling these stories into a book of interviews and photography, maps and illustrations. You can sign up to receive copy of the book by donating to this campaign.

All of this came to be mainly because I ask myself these questions constantly and I'm fascinated by those who can live in the present, who can take smiling leaps into an abyss, and who are motivated enough to create momentum behind their imagination. And because, really, what's more important than being able to look back and say, yep, that was a terrifying, exhilarating, incredible adventure and I'm so thankful I found the courage to be brave.

Follow along on the Facebook page


The Interviewees

Mardy Chen, Founder of PURE Bikram Yoga
Formerly a finance executive in NYC, Mardy changed her life in 2001 to focus on what she had come to realize was most valuable to her - her family, her community, and sharing her love of yoga with others by founding PURE Bikram Yoga in Austin, TX. 

Bert Crenca, Founder of AS220
When Bert was 33, he said goodbye to the life he knew to create something he believed in. That something ended up being a way of helping artists find their voice and for the rest of the world to hear them. Not to mention a cultural hub and artist community in the center of Providence, RI.

Philip Croley
After spending 10 years shaping Austin's music scene, he decided to walk away from it all and set out in search of serenity and truth and mountains. He found all those things and a whole lot more…adventure just follows this guy.

Sharon Elsayed, Founder of Bubby's Bread
Sharon's career had been almost entirely in academia and the non-profit arenas until she decided she wanted to find a more personal, impactful way to continue her outreach work. For years she made bread with her children every Friday night. Sharing the warmth and memories of that experience with others became a much more personal way of helping. Beyond that, it became a way for her to provide meaningful work for herself and a place where adults, youth, and individuals with differing abilities could work, as well as help others.

Robert Ovetz, Ph.D.
Political Science and Sociology Professor, Writer, Environmentalist, Film Maker, Musician - Zapatistas, music festivals and sea turtles. There's just too much to say to fit it all in here, please check out his wikipedia page and get ready to be flabbergasted.

I wanna help

You can! First, please tell your friends about this project. Second, if there are things you'd like me to ask these folks, send your questions over to ToBeBraveBook (at) gmail.


All of the money raised through this campaign will go towards the production and shipping of the books – not my cameras, not my gasoline, not my food or bike rack or anything that has to do with the trip itself.

What the final book looks like will be determined by this campaign. The more money raised, the higher the production quality will be. It could be anything from a saddle stitched booklet to a hard cover. Regardless, I can promise you that whatever it ends up being, it's definitely going to be a carefully crafted, well loved collection of artwork and stories.

What if you raise more than you need?

Anything raised beyond what's necessary for the production costs will be donated to the National Parks Conservation Association. The parks system is where so many of us go to reconnect with ourselves and now, more than ever, they need our help.

What if you don't raise enough?

I'll be going on this journey and documenting it regardless of book funding, so if this doesn't work out, contact me through the website and at the very least I'll be happy to send you a PDF of whatever it becomes.


All rewards are listed to the right up there. If there's something you want that isn't listed in your category, just let me know and I'll make as many exceptions as I can. Oh also, these are the TBB vector icons - get em!

Plans after the book

Once the book is completed, I'm hoping to put together a gallery show of photography, illustrations, selected writings and maybe…possibly…a film. But more on those ideas later…


I want to thank all of my incredibly patient friends and family who, over the past three months, have helped me think through this idea, make videos, and introduced me to remarkable people to interview and stay with. This absolutely would not be possible without you, I can't begin tell you what it means to me.

Michael Cronan and Karin Hibma, Christian and Jenn Helms, Sam Martin, and Pamela Zuccker…just wow, I am so grateful for your crazy kind words and support, thank you so much.

Huge thanks to Owen Ashworth of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone for allowing me to use "Optimist vs The Silent Alarm". Check out his other super great stuff here and here.

The track in the second video is "Lost Waltz" by The Lost Sounds and I really hope they take a book in exchange for me swiping it. Find all of their screamy good albums here.

Finally, thanks especially to you for listening, you are nice.


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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    Okay crazy person, if you want to donate this much money, heck, I'll come visit you, do a slideshow for you and your friends and tell you all about these stories in person! Oh, and of course, your name in the Thanks section, two copies of the book, an 8x10 print of your choice, the mystery gift and access to ALL of the To Be Brave footage.

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Funding period

- (30 days)