Where The Heart Is

United StatesUnited States 21 Jun '14 - 21 Jan '15 Created by: Tressa Fessenden-McKenzie
Campaign ended!
This campaign will receive all funds raised even if it does not reach its goal.
Funding deadline: June 07, 2014 (11:59pm UTC).
Our own Great American Road Trip, exploring our home country, what makes a place home, and what home means to people we meet along the road.

The Purpose

How does a place become a home? And how and why do we choose the places that become our homes?

We’re two recent college grads, hoping to take a moment to fully take advantage of this brief transitional pause in our lives to embark on and document our version of the great American road trip.The desire to traverse and explore the vast United States of America is a timeless impulse, and we want to follow in the footsteps of Steinbeck, Kerouac, Sternfeld and Friedlander and so many others in trying to get a better grasp on the place we are from, while also exploring the notion of home through writing and photography.

As we travel, first North, then stretching East across the country, and finally down South and back West, we want to talk to the people we meet, to photograph the spaces that they inhabit, or the quirks and elements of their towns and cities that make it unique to them, that make them feel like
home. We will make this journey in a van that will be our home for the 6 month duration of the trip but we also hope to connect with others using CouchSurfing and possibly other sites like Meetup to see new places from a perspective that avoids tourism as much as possible and instead delves into the essence of a place.

We want to invite others to share their thoughts on home and to weave together their ideas and the photographs of these places into a kind of patchwork portrait of the United States, our home country. We’ll be documenting the trip on our blog and through Social Media, sharing photos, writing, and possibly videos, but the ultimate goal is to create a book that combines written observation and photography, an account of two girls’ experiences getting to know their homeland.

Rough approximation of trajectory.


Background & Experience

The of two of us have been best friends for over 10 years now, and between the two of us we’ve visited 10 countries, but we both feel as though having a more solid understanding of the diverse country of our origin is an important part of learning more about ourselves, learning more about the world, and gaining a better sense of our global context. We’re interested in the idea of home — the United States is the place we are from and yet we understand so little of it, for us home is Northern California, the redwoods, the quaint artisan shops and local marketplaces. Yet we’ve both found that sense of home-ness in other places — for Kelsey, the rolling hills of New Zealand during a semester WWOOFing, for Tressa, the house of her adopted Costa Rican family, and later the vibrant cobblestoned city of Granada, where she lived for a year in the South of Spain.

We’ve both graduated with degrees in creative fields and we want to combine our creative energies into documenting this journey in a unique and creative way.  Kelsey has created several brief documentaries and Tressa has self published a book of poems about travel, but this trip is a distinctive opportunity for us to apply our skills collaboratively in exploring an idea that we’re passionate about.

Funding Details

We recently purchased a '91 Chevy van and will be putting some work into it to make it cozy and livable. Your donations will primarily be used to purchase gas and maintain our van, as well as to help us cover the expenses of any incidentals that may occur on the road. We estimate that in order to traverse the entire country we’ll need approximately $3,000 for gas alone, and we'll need to keep up on regular oil changes and car maintenance. Obviously we’ve been working hard and trying to save up to support ourselves on the road, but meeting our $4,000 goal will at least take care of our transportation needs, leaving us to handle other costs such as food, the occasional campsite fee, or unexpected repairs.

You’ll notice that we’ve included the create your own reward option in our rewards and we urge you to consider that option for any fun tasks or favors you’d like to ask of us! Want us to personally deliver a message to a faraway loved one? We’ll do it! Want us to come visit you and cook you dinner in your home? We’d be glad to! Want us to take some portraits of you, your family, or your animals? No problem!

Other ways to contribute

Obviously not everyone is in the position to contribute financially but we’d also love any suggestions on places we should visit, things we should do, or sites we should see; we want this experience to be as interactive as possible. If you’re inspired by our project please share it with others to help us reach our goals, and of course, if you’d like to be a part of our project, to show us your home or something about your hometown that you think is special, we’d love to meet up with you along the road!

We are also currently researching publishing options for our finished project, so if you or anyone you know has resources or connections in that field, we'd love to talk to you!


Chip in any amount
Create your own reward
Woohoo! Get that creative juices flowing and suggest any reward you want in exchange for a fair contribution. Let us buy and ship something to you or perform an interesting task. Whatever — the world is your playground! We as the trip owners can either accept or reject your request.
Chip in $5 or more
Thank you!
Shout out on our blog and social media, including any specific message or link you’d like to share.
Estimated delivery: June 2014
Chip in $25 or more
In addition to a shout out, we’ll send you a one of a kind photo from the road!
Estimated delivery: January 2015
Chip in $50 or more
In addition to a shout out, we’ll send you a one of a kind photo, plus a handwritten letter.
Estimated delivery: January 2015
Chip in $100 or more
In addition to a shout out, we’ll send you a one of a kind photo, plus a handwritten personalized letter/poem and a unique memento from along the journey. You will be listed as a sponsor on our blog, with a logo/link/message of your choosing.
Estimated delivery: January 2015
Chip in $200 or more
The package deal!
In addition to a shout out, a kind photo, a hand written letter and a unique memento we find along our journey, we'll send you a copy of our finished book once it's completed! You will be listed as a sponsor on our blog, with a logo/link/message of your choosing.
Estimated delivery: June 2015


Kelsey Joy Murphey
A whimsical photographer with a creative mind and a lust for life; adventure/thrill seeker, health, nutrition and baking enthusiast, map sa...
Tressa Fessenden-McKenzie
An endlessly curious writer and wanderer, with a lust for language; directionally challenged, animal enthusiast and self published poet. Stu...