A Word With Morrigan McCarthy of Restless Collective - Bike Week


Finding a “real” job in this economy can be an uphill battle, especially for people who aren’t accustomed to peddling their wares. Some curious and wanderlustful souls crave new sights and sounds, fresh air, the challenge of crossing bridges when they get to them … For the more restless among us, Morrigan McCarthy of Restless Collective recommends just getting up and going. To her, this meant traveling the world by bicycle and documenting her discoveries.

All photos courtesy of Restless Collective.

Morrigan McCarthy and her partner, Alan Winslow, form Restless Collective, which is officially referred to as a “photography and multimedia collective.” More informally, Restless Collective is about satisfying curiosity and finding answers on the road.

For their first adventure, Project Tandem, Restless Collective biked around America, about 11,000 miles, and asked ordinary citizens to share their thoughts on environmental change. Ultimately, Project Tandem became a gallery show and lecture series.

Since then, Restless Collective has been decidedly nomadic.

Andes Mountains, Argentina

Morrigan McCarthy, currently nursing an injury, sat down with BTR to talk about Restless Collective’s past adventures, future tours, and their current project “The Geography of Youth.”

BreakThru Radio: How would you best describe Restless Collective? There are elements of journalism, photography, biking … how would you sum it up?

Morrigan McCarthy: That’s a good question. I think, for us, Restless Collective is really just a way to formalize the things the two of us are interested in and believe that maybe some other people will be interested in too. We want to be sure that the stuff that we’re talking about or photographing or interviewing people about is accessible to other people because curiosity is definitely the base of it for us. It’s more photography and writing and multimedia and a general exploration through whatever means necessary … it’s more about satiating curiosity and finding a way to share what we learned about the world.

Tangier, Morocco.

BTR: So your first project, Project Tandem … how did that idea come to you? To travel around the United States and interview people and take photographs about the environment?

MM: We’re both passionate about environmental science.  I went to an environmental science-based high school, and Alan studied environmental science and photography in university so we kind of had that passion going into it. But living in New York City, we found ourselves constantly bombarded by this media hype. People were shaking and moving around climate change … the world was starting to change. We thought, “Well, I wonder what’s happening in the rest of the U.S surrounding this.”

So we decided to set out and discover what was going on outside of this bubble of the city that we lived in.

BTR: So what kind of people did you talk to for that project?

MM: We talked to pretty much anyone we could find. We would just pull our bikes over on the side of the road and talk to anybody who was standing there. We talked to people in diners or people whose houses we camped in front of … we really just harassed everyone we could find. It was certainly interesting. It was a good way to get sort of a slice of America.


BTR: Have you ever had a big discovery, like a Eureka! moment, while you were on the road?

MM: Wow, that’s a really hard question, but it’s a really good one.

Actually, I can think of one moment, and surely there have been others, but this was a real knock-me-over-the-head moment. It was on Project Tandem … and we were out west. I think we were in Montana, probably. It’s just beautiful out there, and it’s what you think of when you think of America — these big wide-open spaces.

I remember being in a grocery store. It was kind of a strange place. There was taxidermy on the walls over the meat department, and they were playing country music. I’ve never really been a big country music fan, but there was some song playing about how the best part of this guy’s life was just being at home with his family … and I got all teary in the grocery store. Alan said, “What’s wrong with you?” and I said, “I just realized why people love this country so much.”

BTR: Just to switch gears, where do you stand right now with the “Geography of Youth” project?

MM: I tore my hamstring and my calf muscle back in Austria. We sort of limped through our European leg of the “Geography of Youth,” and finally came back so I could get proper medical treatment. So I’m in intensive physical therapy right now, four times a week, and we are doing it with the goal of being able to get back on the bike in early winter of this year and head to Southeast Asia and then Africa.

For more of our conversation with Morrigan McCarthy, check out today’s episode of Third Eye Weekly.