BIG THINGS AHEAD: COLIN

July 20, 2010

mr. colin hughes is probably the most active, driven, and motivated person i’ve ever met. he’s a man on the move, taking globetrotting to a level that i never even knew was possible- in fact, maybe “globeriding” is a better descriptive word for him. it definitely invokes an appropriate visual of him pedaling through various cultures and landscapes on his favorite vehicle, the bicycle. although i probably can’t even name half of them, some of his accomplishments in recent months alone include: biking around cuba, china, and argentina!!!; overnight bike-camping trips + back in time for work in the morning!!!; party at the president of uruguay’s hacienda!!!; 48-hour film fest!!!; planning a bicycle-share program for a city of 11-million in China!!!

today he left for a few months to start some things in new york, see family back in wisconsin, and possibly trek to manila for more urban planning work. over the past few months, we’ve bonded over our mutual love for emo (um, saves the day, alkaline trio, the promise ring!?); our past time in bosnia (random!); our love of food, sugar, baking; our midwestern roots. he and his boundless energy will be missed, but we all know that mr. hughes will always be around to inspire us with his go-getter attitude, lofty ideas and their impeccable execution. if i learned anything from this dude, it’s dream it, do it, take a few photos along the way, and share share share the stories. don’t miss the rest of colin’s photos on flickr.

Name: Colin Kleinhans Hughes
Age: 28
Hometown: Plymouth, Wisconsin

Where are you right now? Guangzhou, China. But I call San Francisco home.

What do you do? Urban planning & design, all kinds of stuff with bikes, writing, fotography, etc. At the moment I’m designing a public bicycle share system in Guangzhou.

Where are you going? That’s a question I’ve finally begun to enjoy not being able to answer very well. It keeps things interesting. In the immediate future I’ll be in Uruguay, Argentina, China, and maybe Europe…plus a bicycle-related business idea moving forward in NYC… but my heart is stuck in SF.


What will you be doing when you get there?
Well, the “there” remains unidentified, or at least constantly changing. Wherever I am, I’m going to keep on doing what I do.

How did you decide to go in this direction?
I always wanted, but never had, a big plan. I was never looking very far ahead and couldn’t make any big commitments, I was just trying to find powerful experiences that I’d learn something new from – I worked in prisons in Georgia for a summer, started an arts newspaper in Madison, the US Embassy in Bosnia, a bike tour guide all over the world, and eventually it all pointed me to what I do now, which allows me to draw on all those experiences.


What led you to make this decision?
In 2005 I more or less lived on a bike that I rode across Europe, couchsurfing and camping along the way. When I was passing through Holland I was blown away by the urban design, gezellig cityscapes, ubiquitous bikeways, and open-minded culture. After years of not knowing what I wanted to do, I finally knew that I wanted to design cities to be more like that.

Do you have any expectations?
I expect to see my designs built. For some people, design itself is an end – they’re satisfied with a perfect design even if it stays on paper. But I’m in the game for change and for me designs are the means to create change, but they need to be implemented to do that.

Are you excited? Nervous? Terrified? Thrilled? I am chillin.

What are you looking forward to?
Being in one place and having it feel like it is everywhere.

What are you scared of? Losing passion.

What happens if it doesn’t work out? On to the next adventure.

What is the worst thing that could happen? Losing passion.

What is the best thing that could happen? Fomenting a popular movement to bring more community engagement, art, creativity, sustainability, equality to our cityscapes.

Did you ever think you’d be where you are now? In Guangzhou? To be honest, I’d never even heard of it till they asked me to come here.

Have you ever felt like this before? The combined feeling of actually having a focused idea of what I want to do with my life, having worked to develop the skills and ideas necessary to for it, and now getting opportunities to manifest my ideas is totally new for me.

What are you leaving behind? My nomadic nature. I still have to travel a lot, but I have a home to come back to now, not just a suitcase to pack up, and I like that.

What will you miss? I miss people. A lot. But then again the people that really affect you stay with you in a certain way.

What did your friends say when you told them? They usually just roll their eyes.

ARE YOU READY?
You fucking betchya.

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