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Exclusive: Cole Haan’s American Dream Project

Is the American Dream dead? From what we hear in the news (government gridlock, The 1%, ISIS) things sometimes sound pretty grim. So British born James Marshall, founder of Happy Marshall Production, along with his best friend Todd Williams, partnered with Cole Haan and embarked on an epic cross country motorcycle trip to learn how people from all parts of the U.S. are achieving and redefining the American Dream and reversing the negative sentiments around the American Dream.

We sat down with Mr. Marshall to hear more about this coast to coast experience.

American Dream Teaser from Three One NYC on Vimeo.

  1. Tell us about your favorite moment on the road?

There are so many great moments to choose from when you are making a series with two guys riding brand new Indian motorcycles across a vast country and meeting new people everyday, we had a lot of fun on this trip. Can’t get it down to one!… I think passing my bike test felt pretty good (it was just three weeks before we left). Cole Haan coming on-board as major sponsors was totally incredible; it took us to a completely different level and provided some much needed support at a critical time. And of course when we rode into Wyoming – epic scenery, winding roads and hot sun makes for some fun cornering.

  1. Did the trip help you see America in a better light? Especially as a foreigner?

TOTALLY! I’ve always been a fan of the US, which is why I moved here, but there are so many news stories telling us why America is a bad place, why we are different from each other, and why it is dangerous out there, so of course it naturally puts negative thoughts in your mind. But, my experience could not be further from this – I’ve traveled 5,000 miles, met many people and had a blast with everyone I met – I would do this trip again tomorrow if I could.

  1. We have to ask, was there anything back woods weird that had you screeching out of a town?

If you are asking were there any scary ‘Deliverance’ moments, thankfully, no! However, I was amazed at how many people had not left their towns, or cities, before, ever! Some people are, how shall I say, “different”, but I think it’s fun – the world would be a boring place if we were all the same!

  1. Would a bike trip across England be your next adventure?

With Cole Haan’s support, I think I would perhaps go bigger! An adventure through all of Europe would be really fun. Maybe then do Africa, Asia, and what the heck, lets throw in South America, too while we are at it.

  1. How did you partner with Indian Motorcycles?

I went on the Indian Motorcycles website and ended up connecting with a cool dude named Robert Pandya. At first he was interested, but they get a LOT of requests to loan out bikes, so I think he was sitting on the fence… and then by sheer coincidence, my riding buddy and super star photographer Todd Williams happened to know Robert and the guys at Indian Motorcycle so it all fell into place.

  1. Was there a favorite meal? If so, where. 

We ate some pretty awful meals between locations, so eating home cooked meals was always welcome – Corlyn in Rendville, Ohio (population 35) really looked after Todd, myself and the entire crew. The best across the entire trip was probably the Thai food we had with a guy we stayed with in Palm Springs, JR. Really cool and interesting guy! We unfortunately lost a bunch of sound and footage from our stay with him. Total bummer, but yeah, the food was GREAT!

  1. If you could sum up what the overall American Dream is from the people you met, what is it?

Based on the people I met on this great adventure, I would say my version of the American Dream is for each and everyone one of us to have the freedom to choose our own path and create our own dreams and opportunities; a path that is unique to us, that we can work towards, that we are responsible for, that excites and thrills us. My dream is something that I will aim for, that I will probably have to fight to earn and fight to keep, but it is mine, and by living in this great country, I have the opportunity to dream and then try to achieve it. And to achieve it, we must be as determined and adaptable as water. Rivers hit bends and huge boulders; it finds a way around them, through them, or over them. And when obstacles are so large that they are impassable, water evaporates and then rains in other places!

Cator Sparks
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Cator Sparks was the Editor-in-Chief of The Manual from its launch in 2012 until 2018. Previously, Cator was covering…
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