TAYLOR, Bedford-Stuyvesant By his fifth day in Alaska, Taylor was referring to himself as a "natural outdoorsmen," perched fearlessly on the bow of a raft bouncing over rapids. Taylor grew up on the streets and in the shelters of Brooklyn but has found stability and a new home in the Lafayette Garden Projects in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Taylor cares for his younger siblings after school while his mother works the night shift. He recently reconnected with his father and is eternally optimistic and hopeful for the future. Between making the other kids laugh and instigating adventures, Taylor realized his dreams of moving to Venice Beach, learning to surf and saving up money to return to Alaska with his mother.   

TAYLOR, Bedford-Stuyvesant

By his fifth day in Alaska, Taylor was referring to himself as a "natural outdoorsmen," perched fearlessly on the bow of a raft bouncing over rapids. Taylor grew up on the streets and in the shelters of Brooklyn but has found stability and a new home in the Lafayette Garden Projects in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Taylor cares for his younger siblings after school while his mother works the night shift. He recently reconnected with his father and is eternally optimistic and hopeful for the future. Between making the other kids laugh and instigating adventures, Taylor realized his dreams of moving to Venice Beach, learning to surf and saving up money to return to Alaska with his mother. 

 

MATTHEW, Queens/Brownsville

Last year, fifteen year-old Matthew lost 3 friends to gun deaths on the streets of Brooklyn. Desperate to save her son, Matt's mother, Sherita moved the family from Brownsville (where they were both born and raised) to Queens. Despite the distance, Matthew defies his parents and visits Brooklyn nearly everyday. Sherita jumped at the opportunity to send Matthew to Alaska because it means keeping him safely off the street for two full weeks and maybe it could change the course of his life entirely.

OSAMA, East New York

Sixteen year-old Osama is a Yemeni refugee living with his mother and sister - both former activists in the Arab Spring - in East New York. While most consider this to be one of Brooklyn’s most dangerous neighborhoods, to Osama it is literally a safe haven from a homeland full of tragedy and terror that he cannot return to. Alaska is the 2nd state in the union that Osama visited. He does so with hope and a truly unique perspective on America.

 

MARION, East Flatbush

Fifteen year-old Marion was shocked that his mother, Monique, allowed him to travel to Alaska. Back in Brooklyn, Marion never leaves the house alone, is the only kid in his grade without a cellphone and has given up on the idea of a normal teenage social life. Monique admits that she is overly cautious but knows that the streets are just not safe for an African American boy who could lose his life to gang or police violence just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Marion's trip to Alaska is a significant shift for both mother and son as they each experience Marion's first taste of independence.

 

KELLEN, Brownsville

Back home in Brownsville, Kellen spends two hours each morning getting his hair just right before leaving the house. He is so naturally social and charismatic that he was elected class president just two weeks after transferring to his new school. In Alaska, there is a change in Kellen. Kellen was the first to abandon his cellphone and was relieved to leave behind social obligations and keeping up appearances. After a couple days of wearing a head covering - despite the heat - he abandoned that too. Kellen didn't befriend the other boys on the trip, instead he dove inward and embraced his first experience in nature. In doing so he discovered some truths about himself. 

SAM GREGORY, Court Street

Sam Gregory is a tough-as-nails Brooklyn based Criminal Defense Attorney who fell in love with Alaska twenty years ago and had a dream to share this magical place with the community he serves. Sam is one hell of a storyteller and a sensational ringleader that brings together a lively cast of Alaskan locals to help guide the trip.