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Seed Librarians, Stone Carvers And Sheepherders Along The Hudson

This isn't Nick Hand's first epic trip — he took a previous journey by bike around the British coastline.
Princeton Architectural Press
This isn't Nick Hand's first epic trip — he took a previous journey by bike around the British coastline.

Travel can take on many modes: Air, bus, boat, car — and how about going a few hundred miles by bicycle?

One day in the spring of 2012, English designer and photographer Nick Hand set off on his bicycle from Brooklyn, New York, and traveled north up the Hudson River, collecting the stories of local artisans he happened to meet along the way.

Hand put all those stories together in a new book called Conversations on the Hudson, and he tells NPR's Rachel Martin that he found inspiration in a similar journey he'd already taken around the British coastline.

Interview Highlights

On meeting stone carver Ted Ludwiczak

I had just cycled through a bit of forestry, I think it was Nyack State Park, and the first thing that you see are lots of stone carved faces looking out at you, which is, I guess, quite an unusual thing to come across. So I kind of hung around, and Ted just happened to turn up in his battered old red car, and we got to chatting, and he was just a great artisan, and a lovely old boy ... he thinks there's a face in every stone and he's just releasing the face — sounds a bit kind of weird, but it's kind of a beautiful thing to say as well.

On meeting a seed librarian

He had come across this sort of issue of finding seeds that were hardy enough for where he lived, which is quite a harsh climate, so he started collecting hardy local seeds. And he had this idea of putting them into the library system so that people could check out seeds in the spring, and then, come the fall, they would return the seeds much like you would a book — but over the kind of six month growing period.

On where he's going next

I've got plans to have a courier bike built that I can put a little printing press on the back. I'm thinking of cycling to Mainz, in Germany, which is where Gutenberg [lived], who invented printing with movable type. And so I've got this kind of plan to maybe do this journey with a little printing press and print postcards along the way send them back to people on the way.

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NPR Staff
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