Couch surfing: new way to connect

Nonprofit network arranges a place to crash for travelers
2010-01-31T00:00:00Z Couch surfing: new way to connect Jamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 31, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Pastor Daniel Bodhi Chapin wants to take a deeper look at America and get the country's pulse.

Brenda Goldsmith would like to connect her two sons with people of different cultures and backgrounds while teaching them about unity.

The two crossed paths this weekend after Chapin, a "couch surfer," connected with Goldsmith, who is more than willing to let people crash on her sofa.

Goldsmith and Chapin are part of CouchSurfing.org, an international non-profit network that connects travelers with people who are willing to share their homes, couches-and a piece of their life.

Chapin, 38, is traveling across the country to promote unity in Christianity and get to know the country on a deeper level.

Instead of driving a car or catching a bus, Chapin plans on getting to know the country on a more intimate level.

He is walking.

Chapin started in Southern California last month and won't stop until he reaches Nashville, Tenn, likely in April.

Chapin and Goldsmith talked Saturday about their passion for people, faith and, of course, sleeping on peoples' couches.

Chapin's pedestrian journey

Chapin, a youth pastor and marriage counselor, was motivated by his interactions with young people in his hometown, Garden Grove, Calif.

"Young people are looking for a sense and longing and community," he said. "They're not finding it, especially in churches. They're finding division and doctrinal differences.

"I thought I would walk across the country. It's kind of a dramatic way to get the point across," he said.

Chapin is not carrying a cell phone or laptop, rather relying on the kindness of strangers and a group of supporters who are keeping track of him and assisting with housing arrangements. He also has a tent and a pack that holds 40 pounds of food, clothing, shoes and a medical kit.

However, he is not embarking on a solitary journey.

"I will be interviewing everyone from shopkeepers and restaurant owners to county supervisors to get an idea of what community means to them," he said.

So far, he has encountered numerous people on the road, including some University of Arizona students who gave him flowers, a firefighter in Chandler who offered him some apples and someone in a car who threw rocks at him.

One of his most memorable encounters so far came when he befriended a 17-year-old homeless girl in Tucson Friday while waiting for a ride.

"The girl was hungry. We were sitting on the floor eating bread and fruit. I told her it did not have to be like this," he said.

Chapin contacted Covenant House, an organization that provides services for homeless children.

A van came and took the girl after he contacted the group.

Chapin will leave Tucson Monday and head towards Benson. He expects to make it there by Wednesday.

He will write a book about his travels, titled "The Road to Damascus 2010." National Geographic magazine will publish articles written by Chapin.

Couch-surfing ambassador

Goldsmith's interest in couch-surfing came from her love of traveling.

She found out about the network through an Internet travel newsletter.

"It was intriguing. I thought I would click with it and learn more," she said. "And I found out it's this global family."

According to CouchSurfing.org, there are more than 1.6 million couch-surfers worldwide, spanning 234 countries.

Couch surfers travel and stay with other people, and they host travelers as well.

Goldsmith said there are about 300 couch surfers in the Tucson area. She serves as a local ambassador.

She has hosted 70 people in her home from places as far awau as Rome, Australia and India. Her guests have ranged in age from 18 to 60 years old, she said.

Goldsmith joined the network more than two years ago.

So far, she has only couch-surfed in Minnesota and New York, she said.

But she has built connections with other couch surfers in other places such as Chicago and Hawaii.

There are other benefits to couch-surfing, even if you don't leave your home.

"My thought is I wanted to bring the world to my kids until we have more resources to go see the world," she said. "It's enriched my life."

more about walk

For more information about Chapin's walk, log onto www.facebook.com and visit his Facebook page. You can also follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DBodhi.

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at 573-4115 or jyounger@azstarnet.com.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Activate

Deals, offers & events

View more...

We Cut Countertops

We cut countertops purchased off the rack at Home Depot or Lo…

Featured businesses

View more...