We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Magnuson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chris, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
When faced with a risk, I find myself excited by the idea of what can go right as opposed to dwelling on what can go wrong. At the age of 14, I was obsessed about travelling the world. I got a job and saved for two years to go on a summer homestay in France. I never worried about the long distance from home, incorporating myself into a new family or the challenge of learning a new language. The motivation to experience international travel was more compelling than worrying about the risk. In fact, I never thought of it as a risk. That homestay sparked a love of travel, study of languages and anthropology plus an insatiable desire to see the world from different perspectives. This passion still drives me today. I created the Streetview Vagabond project where I explore the world using Google Street View and make connections with people from all over the world. When I’ve interviewed musicians in the Yukon, DJs in New Zealand, students in Ghana and a tour guide in Patagonia they all want to know why I am reaching out and talking to them. I strongly believe that everyone and every place is inherently interesting if you get to know them a little. But making the effort to get to know the world through someone else’s eyes is a risk. I also know that the interviews I have conducted have enriched my life much like that homestay decades ago. I guess what I’m really saying is sometimes the greatest risk is not taking it!

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have been creating content for over 20 years, but I have only recently started to consider myself to be a content creator. I’ve been a classroom teacher, educational consultant on video games and an instructional designer for nationally distributed online learning courses, but my true passion and art is really my Streetview Vagabond project. I love exploring the world but the constraints of time, money and COVID really hamper the extent of where you can go. Consider the fact that there’s an amazing architectural renaissance happening in Baku, Azerbaijan, an explosion of murals city-wide in Valparaíso, Chile or an intense skatepark scene in Kampala, Uganda. I know about the beauty of these places after exploring them virtually. But that’s just the beginning.

To travel the world virtually, I listen to radio stations streaming on the web, explore towns using Google’s Street View and try to find foods in local markets and restaurants around my home. But the most fun is when I connect with folks virtually to have a conversation and enjoy a laugh. One of these connections that I am most proud of has resulted in me being “massive” in New Zealand.

I was listening to Radio One broadcasting out of Dunedin, New Zealand, and I thought: “I wonder if the DJs would be up for a vampire burger?” I had explored Dunedin virtually and fell in love with the Burger N Beast fast food joint. I loved the names of all their monster-themed burgers. So I reached out to the DJ booth via email and proposed sending them a meal out of the blue. They bit! Once they had the burger in hand, we jumped on a Zoom call to connect, marvel at the technology that made all of this possible and laugh at how I had ordered a spicy meal for a DJ that had a very low tolerance for it. The entire conversation was broadcast live for 12 minutes!

Streetview Vagabond is about the randomness of life and how we can make connections with anyone if we are willing to extend ourselves and be truly curious. I can’t wait to see where I will go next and more importantly, who will actually answer my cold calls.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I recently did this! I am not from Arizona but recently spent a week there and my itinerary intersected with visiting family friends and taking advantage of the rich cultural and natural beauty of Arizona.

Start with taking a horseback tour of Canyon de Chelly. We went with Justin’s Horse Rental and it was great to enter such a sacred site with our guide who grew up in the Canyon and who still knows everyone who owns land and homes there. The Canyon is stunning and the horseback ride slows thing down and allows for great conversations and some close views of petroglyphs. Couple the horse tour with an official Thunderbird Lodge caravan tour and you will have only scratched the surface of this wonderful natural and historical treasure and National Monument.

Then swing through Chinle and check out the food selection and Navajo language gracing all the departments of the Bashas’ supermarket. I learned that Chinle is the spiritual center of the Navajo Nation while Window Rock is the administrative capital. Go there as well. There is a great monument to the Navajo code talkers and the Window Rock is stunning. There’s a Bashas’ as well!

We also hit the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Winslow. No matter how your itinerary shapes up, I’d suggest visiting the Grand Canyon in the snow to spare you the crowds. Definitely go mountain biking in Sedona. We had three kids and had a great couple hours renting bikes from Thunder Mountain Bikes and practicing in the Sedona Bike Skills Park not too far away. While in Sedona, we found a great gluten free lunch spot at Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen as well. Winslow is known for Standing on a Corner park but did you know there’s the Root Beer Stand that makes their own root beer and that Kool Aid pickles at the Brown Mug Café are a thing? The pickles can be bought spicy as well.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My Dad went on a study trip to China in 1983. He took almost 4,000 pictures and subjected the family to a slide show that would have bored most 8 year-olds to tears but I was fascinated. He took us to the World’s Fair in Vancouver, Canada and always made a big deal whenever we crossed the border asking us if we felt any different. I never did, but I did wonder if you were supposed to. When he remarried, our blended families took a road trip to Tijuana, Mexico thus stoking more interest in international travel. Years later, he sent me a pamphlet about how to study abroad in France and I made the decision to go as soon as I opened the letter. This shoutout goes out to my Dad for stoking my love of international travel through his example, our shared experiences and some gentle prodding to go out on my own.

Website: https://www.streetviewvagabond.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/streetviewvagabond/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-magnuson-4488161

Twitter: https://twitter.com/StreetviewV

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StreetviewV

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8oH-6RcyHGu0UzhCKubQzg/featured

Other: https://www.tiktok.com/@streetviewvagabond

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