Name: Christian Long
Granville, Ohio, a little slice of a ‘New England’ college town just a short drive east of Columbus, Ohio. Picture a modern day Norman Rockwell painting with a midwestern attitude. In the process of buying a new home that signals our desire to be here another 20 years.
Who are you?
1) Personally: Husband (who is learning how to finally be the husband my wife deserves nearly 20 years into our marriage); papa of two middle schoolers (who is learning how to let go, to give them space at the same time as lean in to becoming the father they’ll need next), 2x adoptee (once when I was 3; again when I was 30), and someone who is still trying to make sense about being a ‘son’ (who has had four different ‘fathers’ across my life).
2) Professionally: Principal, Design & Strategy for Roto, a multi-disciplinary design-build agency that creates everything a visitor experiences in museums, science centers, zoos, and aquariums around the US / world. My role is to expand our work with an eye on developing immersive, interactive ‘architectural placemaking’ in a wide array of new markets and settings. Our firm is like a blend of Santa’s workshop, Pixar, Disney’s Imagineering, and Meow Wolf, which means I’m just surrounded by a ton of bad-ass creatives and makers, who I get to help do killer work for far and wide. Prior to joining Roto on January 1, I was a summer camp counselor who became a high school teacher and coach who got heavily involved in building / running experiential education programs who became a school designer who founded / ran multiple design agencies working with schools / universities around the world.
3) Borderland Emergent: I have been sober since Dec. 31, 2019; I lost nearly 40 lbs in the last 12 months; I could barely run 1.5 miles in September and now I’m running 5+ miles a day; I’m fired up to start raising pygmy goats once we move to the new property this summer; and I am hoping to start painting and making art in a back barn near where our goats will eventually be.
When did your EVRYMAN journey begin?
Read an article about EVRYMAN somewhere. Was nowhere near ‘ready’ to make a sincere investment in my body, heart, psyche, but something in the article made me super curious. Signed up for Race Brook Lodge weekend retreat. Figured I could go ‘hang out’. No real intention of committing, changing, doing hard work. But the weekend kicked my ass, in the best of ways. It opened me up. Gave me an invitation to start living. Left that Sunday night feeling alive for the first time in ages (or possibly since early childhood). And then real life and my own wiring laughed at that. Came home, had zero support system (no EVRYMAN group in my area; no way of explaining to my wife what I had experienced and felt; no way to be held accountable; no way to do ‘next’). Guessing a year and a half passed before I had the next connection to EVRYMAN. That’s when the pandemic-inspired virtual sessions began and I got involved once again.
Who were you before? Who are you now? Who do you want to become?
1) Before: ‘lost kid’, regardless of age or experience. Loner (who was at the center of the party); romantic (without any ability to go deep in a relationship, even my own marriage); intellect (without wisdom); nomadic professional (who couldn’t find the heart of my craft even though I was involved in so many work experiences that mattered deeply and I had worked hard to get into); stuck in the past (even as I tried to get the hell away from it).
2) Now: a 50 year old who feels that I’ve been gifted a chance to start to heal and grow on multiple fronts in my life, as well as to start letting go of the old narrative I used to repeat over and over; someone who is trying to ‘feel’ everything, but also knows I can’t do it all at once.
3) To Become: someone who can feel all the love that is possible with my wife, healthy, grounded, humbled and humble, artist, community member, slow-adventurer, volunteer, grateful, and one of those ‘old guys’ I have always been in awe of.
Who has EVRYMAN impacted the most in your life?
As I was driving home from my first (and so far only) EVRYMAN retreat, I called my younger brother. Told him I loved him. That was the first time. Now, we didn’t meet until I was 25 and he was 14; we share the same father but did not grow up together; but in our nearly 25 years of knowing each other, that was the first time I told him that. And I also began embracing him as a deeply important part of my life and my future growth. I’ve also been hosting a monthly men’s group since attending EVRYMAN. It’s not an EVRYMAN styled program, but it has definitely been inspired by the core soul of EVRYMAN. And continues to be.
If you could have one person join EVRYMAN who would it be?
My brother, mentioned above. I think he’d need to experience a F2F version before any of the virtual ones, but I could see him being a great candidate who would find real value. And as an ex-Marine Infantryman who served in Fallujah, Iraq during the intense fighting of the mid-2000’s, I think he’d really value the week+ long Military / Civilian retreat.
My first response is that the retreats offer a profound invitation to transform one’s life. My second response is that the virtual meetings/platform has been a powerful ally during the pandemic. My third response is that I am curious what EVRYMAN becomes ‘next’ — as the pandemic fades and the organization/community builds its ideal blend of ‘experiences’. Ultimately, I think its transformative power will always lie in its in-person experiences, but in this ‘liminal’ pandemic space it has been a lifeline for many.Christian Long