Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Global meets local as Couchsurfing.org comes to Bayview

When Heather O'Brien first stopped by the Quesada Gardens, she represented more than a Bayview neighbor curious about all the activity.

Heather (also known as "Wondergirl") is one of the forces behind a unique "digital world" social venture, called CouchSurfing International, that connects active travelers to destination points most tourists never know exist. The not-for-profit enterprise also connects those travelers to volunteer opportunities available to them when they arrive.

Oh, yes...it connects them to couches, too. If you ask Heather, "couch-surfing" is more than a rite of passage for young travelers. It is a lifestyle.

Heather and her colleagues are putting a local face on their international concept by volunteering at the Bridgeview Teaching and Learning Garden, planting a lemon tree the business is donating, and capturing it all on video. The resulting digital short will serve as a home page introduction for CouchSurfing.org.

Heather's concept and neighborly approach seem to be working. CouchSurfing has over 3 million members, representing every country on earth. The website enjoys, on average, over 20,000 new sign-ups per week.

"Our mission is to create inspiring experiences for people," Heather says. "We are working toward a world where everyone can explore, connect and ultimately appreciate diversity."

Heather feels that CouchSurfers and Quesada Gardeners are a "perfect fit," and the resident organizers at the Quesada Gardens Initiative agree.

Anyone interested in CouchSurfing International, the Bridgeview Teaching and Learning Garden and the network of projects the Quesada Gardens Initiative is growing, can find involved visionaries like Heather all in one place: Bayview.

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