The thrill of the open road is something that has been with Ethan Scott Barnett since they were a kid, their father taking them for rides in the sidecar.

But it was during the COVID-19 pandemic when they bought their own bike, and Barnett really came to love the freedom it provides.

“This is the best way to understand climate change; this is the best way to understand land use; this is the best way to understand value of humanity and society," Ethan said.

What You Need To Know

  • Ethan Scott Barnett, a Kingston community organizer, is making a 90-day, 15,000-mile motorcycle trip around North America

  • The hope is to meet with grassroots groups across the nation to build solidarity and take home lessons learned from others

  • They are also raising money to help groups directly and then to start their own group upon their return

But Barnett wants to take it one step further. Inspired by Matthew Henson, a black man who was the first non-native to reach the North Pole, Barnett will embark on a 90-day, 15,000-mile trip across North America next month. They say it's one of the most ambitious things they've ever take it on. But why take on something so daunting?

“If someone’s afraid of a location based on their class or their ethnicity or their gender or something, I’m like, ‘We should probably investigate that. We should probably dig a little deeper,’” they said.

Barnett says that problems they see in Kingston, like housing and food injustice, isn’t unique to the Hudson Valley. They’re hoping that by learning from grassroots groups across the nation they can not only build nationwide solidarity between these groups, but also take back these lessons to their home.

“Being like, this is a really good project," Barnett said. "Let’s look at what they’re doing, maybe we can get some of their contacts to work with organizations here and in return maybe they actually come and visit here and kind of have an understand of what’s going on so they can help where they’re at.”

Along the way, Ethan is raising money for the trip, including over $2,000 to give to groups they speak with, and more than $5,000 to start the Hudson Valley Freedom Project when they return, which they say will provide education on different political philosophies and how to put them into action.

“Where there’s a wage gap that obviously can be crushed," they said. "If you’re working at a restaurant and you have someone making $17 an hour versus $18 and $19 an hour, let’s give you the tools to go to your manager or boss or co-workers and say, ‘why aren’t we all making the same amount?’”