Washington walkabout

By ARIEL SHEARER  |  November 14, 2012

KC Hoye walked nearly 500 miles to deliver a letter in which she introduces herself with five words most of us can relate to: "I am an average American." A web editor and staff writer at UNregular Radio, the 27-year-old Hoye spent much of this year planning for the month of September, knowing it would take at least four weeks to trek from Boston to Washington, DC, on foot.

But what started as a journey to present Congress a personal message — a letter urging elected leaders to thoroughly reassess their priorities — evolved into a mission relatively unconcerned with reaching out-of-touch legislators.

Listening to the people she met en route, the road angels who helped her find shelter, food, and peace of mind when she was stranded, Hoye was inspired to reform her agenda.

"I got better at asking questions than answering them," she explains. "In the long run, it was the small-business owners, the people I stayed with, and the people I met along the way that were a way more important story than any letter delivery."

In New York, she stayed with a medical student who helped her think critically about GDP and unemployment statistics. In Delaware, she stayed with a man who touted America as the greatest country in the world — especially in light of the entrenched classism he saw while living in India. But by the time she finally arrived in DC, it was a federal holiday, and Congress wasn't in session. The only people she spoke with at the US Capitol were security guards.

"I knew the place wasn't going to be that hoppin' joint that I needed it to be to have that sensational effect. But this wasn't about sensation," she says.

Long before Hoye left Boston on August 29, she started blogging about her citizen-identity quest. She's used the web platform to document the political musings of American strangers, the toll the walk took on her body (see the website for gruesome photos of her blistered and bandaged feet), and the evolution of her own values.

"It was about making politics a conversation that can happen across the dinner table, so it's like 'Pass the salt — and the state of the union.' "


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