woman leaning against a brick wall in a white jacket
woman leaning against a brick wall in a white jacket

I’m a military brat, the daughter of a career Air Force officer. Our family moved 11 times before I was 17. Some of the most wonderful memories of my childhood are of those nights before a move, when my room was packed and the boxes stacked three or four high, and I Iay in my canopy bed, wondering what my next bedroom would look like. Change is one of the loves of my life.

But last month, I found myself feeling burned out in a way I never have before. The profound changes required of us by the pandemic, my daughter’s graduation, the busy-ness of writing and marketing a book – all of them added up, in an environment that is still pandemic strange. I felt like I was swimming in gel.

Then, a lucky strike: I went to talk to the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce about The New Builders. The day I arrived, I went on a long walk, seven miles by my iPhone’s count, and one of the places I stopped was a map store, founded in 1875, said the sign on the building’s side. Naturally, I went in, and discovered a business story of resilience. The owner, Patrick Carroll, found himself owning a historical family map business when the early 2000s rolled around, making paper maps obsolete for navigation. 

Technology was killing the company; but then, he saw how it could save it. The powerful scanning and printing equipment that was invented around the same time allowed him to digitize and re-print Gallup’s archives of historic maps. “The timing was exactly right,” he said.And here’s the end of this road: I thumbed through the maps idly, but found one that was the perfect belated Father’s Day gift for my dad: An early 20th century map of airplane routes, orange lines criss-crossing from New York to Chicago to L.A. 

If you’re a traveler, all roads lead to home.

This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.

A business journalist for 20 years, am the founder of Times of Entrepreneurship and the co-author of The New Builders.