June 18--For many honeymooning couples, eating breakfast means a choice between ordering room service or risking the continental options in the lobby.
Matt Webber, 37, and Courtney Dillard, 41, have a more ambitious idea. The Portland couple plans to say "I do" on July 14, then hop in a "pancake-gold" minivan for a five-month, cross-country adventure, taking strangers out to breakfast along the way.
They plan to meet with strangers over eggs and bacon, then document the project on their blog and in a book.
For Webber and Dillard, the trip is a chance to travel the country and meet interesting people along the way. But it's also a way to counteract isolation in the modern age.
"Portland is such a wonderful, connected place, but even here, people walk by on the street and don't say, 'Hello,'" Webber says. "This is our chance to push against that whole stranger-danger idea, that people are disconnected from each other."
They already have a logo (it looks a lot like Pine State Biscuits') and a book title ("Breakfast with Strangers: 50 Meals Across America") though they're waiting on a publishing deal. In the meantime, they've launched a fundraising campaign at Kickstarter.com to help get them on their way. As of last week, they had raised more than half of their $8,000 goal.
Dillard, a rhetoric professor at Willamette University, and Webber, a community organizer, have already set up a handful of "beta breakfasts" throughout Portland. So far, they've brunched with a chicken-raising video-game designer, a woman who tends thousands of office plants downtown and a former military recruit turned feminist and sex-abuse advocate.
As they describe their project, Webber and Dillard seem most interested in telling stories of how people became who they are.
"You hear so often that the American dream is dead," Webber says. "But what we've heard in these stories is that the American spirit is alive and well."
Today, Webber adds, he's more nervous about the road trip than the event that spurred it.
"It's funny, the details surrounding our wedding day seem such an ease and snap at this point," he says, "we're not even sweating it anymore."
-- Michael Russell Follow @tdmrussell