What is this? Yet another room34 blog? Yes and no. Yes, it is. No, it’s not just another blog.

This is the first collaborative blog I’ve done with SLP. We’ve both been actively incorporating blogging into our work and our personal lives for the past several years, but we’ve never worked on one together.

But it’s more than a blog. It’s both a means to an end and a document of a journey. I learned with my 52 Coffees blog that writing a blog can be a catalyst for personal change and growth. In the year-plus that I’ve been writing 52 Coffees, not only have I explored 30 (so far) independent coffeehouses around the Twin Cities, but I’ve changed. I once favored, almost exclusively, the major coffee chains — Starbucks, Caribou — passing over the incredible number, variety and quality of independent options all around me. It was a disservice to my community, and to myself. Discovering the amazing choices available in my city transformed me. Not only do I enjoy the experience of buying and drinking coffee more now than I did before 52 Coffees, but I am more willing to try new things in general, and to go out of my way to make more intelligent, intentional choices.

Which leads to this blog. Unchained is about taking the lessons of 52 Coffees and expanding them to my broader lifestyle: namely, to how I approach food and exercise in general. And not just me, but SLP too, and our kids. We’re taking this leap together, because the time has come, and because we believe once again the blog can be a catalyst for change.

So, again, what? What are we attempting to do with this blog, and what will you, the reader, get from it?

We’re not entirely sure where the journey will lead, but “unchained” is the key. A possible tagline, in need of some editorial polish, is “The only chain is on the bike.” In short, we’re eschewing chains, except the bicycle kind. No chain grocery stores, no major national brands, as little processed food as possible, and we’ll bike or walk as much as possible.

Sure, lots of people have done this sort of thing before (even if they haven’t blogged about it). We both could name several people we know who are deeply committed to local, organic, fair trade, co-op, vegetarian/vegan, bicycling, etc. People who have made a careful and deliberate choice to live their lives in a particular way that goes against the grain of homogenized, corporatized consumption.

I admire their choices and actions, but I’m not them. I’m a frazzled, overworked parent, all too willing at times to hit the McDonald’s drive-thru and ply our kids with cheap imported toys and processed food that never decomposes. I’ve become a complacent consumer, all too often driving past the neighborhood market on my way to a certain big box retailer. I’m a 21st century American who spends too much time in front of TVs and computers and not enough time outdoors. SLP shares some of these concerns and others of her own that she’ll share here as well.

We want to change. We’ve wanted to for years, but life keeps getting in the way. We’re too busy. We don’t have enough time. The thing is, we do have enough time. It’s not the time we have, it’s how we choose to use it. And this blog is a way to hold ourselves accountable for the way we choose to use our time. We know what needs to change, we just need to make the change. The challenge is and has been, how? We think we’re on to something here, and we’ll see how it goes. What works, what doesn’t, it will all unfold here over the course of the summer.

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