30 Days of Kindness, Captured

Greg and Sarah


Name: Sarah Sellman and Greg Grano

Occupation: Documentary makers

Website: americanbearfilm.com/

Twitter: @RelyonStrangers

How we met: We are cyber friends. I “met” Sarah and Greg in February when Sarah came across my website and sent me an email saying she loved my 30 Days for 30 Years adventure and the message that came along with it. She also held out a virtual hand, offering to help me in any way she could. 

Sarah and Greg know a bit about relying on the kindness of strangers.

A couple of years ago during a road trip, Greg called out in his sleep and declared: “We have to go to Bear, Colorado!”

They took Greg’s dream literally and went in search of Bear, CO, only to find it doesn’t actually exist. Fortunately, there are five other Bears in the US – in Washington, Idaho, Arizona, Arkansas, and Delaware – and so began a fate-driven trip across 30 states in 2010 where they relied on the kindness of strangers for a bed each night.

The result is the soon-to-be released documentary American Bear: An Adventure In The Kindness Of Strangers.

Meet Sarah and Greg:

Thirty days can change your life. One day can change your life. But there is something special about the days you number, the days you count. And all of my days that I have intentionally counted are days of complete surprise and extreme learning.

Let me explain. My partner and I recently spent 60 days traveling the United States relying on the kindness of strangers for a home each night. Every night we were in a new town, with a new name, asking a new group of strangers to help a young couple traverse the country.

To top it all off we made a documentary about our adventure. And every day of that journey – each and every counted day – was a day of change and learning.  From staying with the daughter of the last warrior woman of the Cheyenne mountain tribe whose grandson is still facing bigotry in South Dakota; to the twice-married ghost hunters trying to synthesize their experiences in small-town New York; to young friends in Mississippi trying to understand the “country” stereotype, maybe even reclaim it – each character is facing some obstacle that allows us to see a unique side of the multifaceted American lifestyle.  It is through these individuals that we were able to see the fabric of the American mentality and the daily choices we make.

But that feels like such a long time ago. And as we continually move towards finishing our film (it will be completed in a month!) the days I count are occurring less often.

Until June happened. June was a month of many counted days. More of a count down than previous adventures, but still incredibly special.

Bear, Washington

Something happened to us when we came home – we made a transition. We wanted to give back all the energy and good faith we had relied on while traveling the country.  And June was the first big marker of the work we had begun to put into that.

June was the month of Kindness Captured.

American Bear, in collaboration with the tender and kind Guerrilla Goodness, decided to send people out into six different cities with Kindness Kits to perform random acts of kindness for the community.  Each kit included 12 missions, location cards and a disposable camera to capture the kindness. It was a blast!

The turn out, the enthusiasm was amazing! We had about 65 people participate in Syracuse on Saturday — and if each of those people did close to 10 kind deeds — then hopefully we affected over 600 people in the Syracuse area. That’s some pretty incredible math.

Bear, Arizona

The best piece though, was definitely the stories. So many people, with huge grins on their faces relayed stories of incredible kindness. It was an adventure through and through.

That above all makes me unbelievably excited. Because there are so many things I do with my time and energy that end with a whimper – or fizzle out. Not in a negative way necessarily and not in a way that is unique to me. There was just something very special about this. And about the way I felt when it was over.

In meditating recently, I was thinking about the ideas of smirti and bijaSmirti is the feeling and energy you exude when you are mindful, peaceful, present. You know the feeling – the day you walk down the street feeling there, really there, feeling bold and beautiful and strong and aware of your movement, your smile, your light. That’s the day when everyone around you notices, says hello – even strangers.

To me that is smirti. It’s just complete awareness of yourself, your body, your mind. Bija is the seed of that energy inside of each person. As in we all have a bija within us that we are encouraging to create smirti. 

So all of this explanation was basically to get at the point that your bija – the seed of your awareness – can sort of interact with another person’s.  When I connect to another person, really connect, it’s a feeling of being present together.  Holding space is an iteration of that – where you are being present for another person in a different sort of relationship.  But all of this, it’s so, so important to interaction.  And it’s something we could completely lose sight of if we lose ourselves in this world of technology.

My 30 Days of Kindness Captured was completely about creating that in my life. But also about creating that in the lives of others. How is it possible to not be present in the face of a stranger offering you kindness? How is it possible to not feed off of that energy? And that’s when the exchange happens and we are all made whole momentarily.

The 30 days in June were 30 days of hard work, of great collaborations and of serious connection.

What a good month.


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