Back to Brighton and farewell to friends from DC and beyond

After six years living in Washington DC, I am moving back to Brighton, England, in a couple of weeks’ time and wanted to share the news, particularly in a context where saying farewell to friends in person is somewhat problematic.

I’m moving because in a world where working remotely is currently the norm and will likely be the case for a number of months, I’d prefer to be based in Brighton than in Washington DC, for personal reasons. Basically, I’d rather live by the sea, next to a national park, and closer to my UK friends and family, including my mum who lives on the border between England and North Wales (within easy distance of awesome mountain biking – thanks mum, and dad, for choosing to live there!).

There are other reasons relating to visa challenges which mean that I’d likely have to leave the US before the end of October, but the main reason is because I’d rather be in Brighton. The fact that I can currently do my job from anywhere – with only time zones as a slight complication – makes the decision easy.

I’ve enjoyed my time in the US.

I’ve appreciated the buzz and diversity of DC, and the commitment of many of the people I’ve met to making the world a fairer, more peaceful and more sustainable place.

I’ve made some great friends from all around the world – from the US and Canada, from Latin America, from Africa, from the Middle East, from Asia and from Europe – through work, through mountain biking, through tennis, through meditation classes, and through the questionable delights of dating!

I’ve loved being able to spend significant chunks of time in Latin America – in Nicaragua, Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia and the Dominican Republic – and look forward to spending more time with friends in that part of the world in future.

I’ve had some great trips – mainly mountain biking trips – to Colorado, to Utah (this write-up of our trip, by Matt Miller, always warms my heart!), to North Carolina, to Shenandoah, to Maine, Louisiana, to the west coast and to Ottawa. Most of these have involved my buddy Will Niccolls and the fun, kind and gnarly folks from the MVD Mountain Biking Crew. Here is Will, coaching me around Slick Rock (I think), or maybe the partial Enchilada, Moab, Utah. Will is the one who ends up on the floor. He needs to work on his body position 🙂

I’ve learned a lot (from various mistakes and mess-ups) and grown a bit (not height-wise, but that was always a stretch goal!).

And I’ve been pleased to have been part of a great team at Global Integrity, working with partners around the world to address  challenges relating to corruption and the use of public resources, and nudging the evolution of policy and practice, by prioritizing listening, learning and adapting rather than by pretending that we have the answers.

I will be sad to leave my friends in DC, and those friends I made while in DC, but who are now further away, in North Carolina, Vermont, Cleveland, New York, Honduras, Mexico, Colombia and elsewhere. And increasing the distance between me and my brother, John, and his family, sucks too.

But I will be happy to be back in Brighton, with all its quirkiness and hippies, where I can run along the seafront, play in the sea, and explore the South Downs on my bike, with my Brighton friends. And where I can still be part of a Global Integrity team that punches far above its weight, and funding!

I will remember my time in the US fondly, even though it’s been difficult at times, with this year in particular exposing very starkly the challenges that the country faces; challenges that a change of President should begin to address.

I wish my friends in the US and the western hemisphere all the best, for weathering the challenges of COVID-19 and making the changes that are sorely needed. If you’re in DC and fancy meeting up in a suitably distanced way before I depart on the 23rd, give me a shout. And please do keep in touch – our connections mean everything to me.

And, once flying becomes an option, I look forward to welcoming you to the people’s eco-republic of Brighton (and Hove), and the long awaited, brightly painted, Open Gov Beach Hut!

Thanks to Klara Koudelkova for sharing helpful reminders of many of the things I love about Brighton over the years! This sunset, taken 40 metres from my apartment, is one of hers.

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