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'A Doorway to Imagination': Quarantine Project That Brightened People's Days

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

OK, America. We see your sourdough starters and your Duolingo sessions and your new cross stitch hobby, and we raise you A Doorway to Imagination. That's what David North built with all his social distancing-created free time. We'll get to what A Doorway to Imagination is in a second. But for now, just know it's amazing. His niece, Kimberly Adams, a correspondent for the public radio show "Marketplace" and friend of mine, tweeted about it. In a week of heavy news on heavy news. People fell hard for the doorway and for Uncle David himself. He quickly racked up tens of thousands of followers.

And I caught up with him on FaceTime video this morning, so he could give me a tour, as his roosters crowed in the background. I started by asking how his creation came to be.

DAVID NORTH: The last couple of years have been extremely stressful for us due to some health issues that my husband has. He's doing good now. But dealing with the stress, I spend a lot of time outside, and I have yard projects. I found some old wood behind one of our sheds. And for some reason, I thought of - let me build myself a door. And it doesn't really open, but it looks like a door.

MCCAMMON: It looks almost like, you know, something you'd see in a secret garden or a little...

NORTH: (Laughter) Yeah, yeah.

MCCAMMON: ...A little hut in the forest.

NORTH: Yes, yes.

MCCAMMON: And then it's just surrounded by all this kind of brambly wood and vines, it almost looks like, around it.

NORTH: Looks kind of surreal. The doorway being dark kind of draws you in. I didn't know it was going to end up being declared a piece of art. It's not an escape; I believe it's a catharsis.

MCCAMMON: Yeah, what's the difference between escape and catharsis for you?

(SOUNDBITE OF ROOSTER CROWING)

NORTH: Catharsis is accepting the realities of the problems that happen in our lives and doing something constructive with it, processing it. I feel creativity is a way to process it in constructive, productive, positive ways.

MCCAMMON: So you're David, and your husband is David.

NORTH: Yes.

MCCAMMON: And I should note that you both have these big white, fluffy beards.

NORTH: (Laughter) Yeah, yeah.

MCCAMMON: And your niece, Kimberly, shared the two of you always wear matching outfits.

NORTH: Yeah, for 30 years.

MCCAMMON: I can see you, so I know that you're an interracial couple as well.

NORTH: Yes. Uh-huh.

MCCAMMON: And we are, of course, dealing at a moment of sort of a reckoning with racial justice issues in this country. I'm curious what the conversations are that you're having right now as a couple.

NORTH: Ah, that's a good question. We're very frustrated with, you know, injustices that are happening. We have discussions about the challenges of what does white privilege mean. And it's not an argument; it's things that we can discuss because we love one another, and love has a way of dispelling fear. The work of love is more than just with the people that we know, but even the people that we don't know, that we all deserve love. We all deserve respect. I wrote a song called "I Believe In The Humanity Of Humanity," this positivity that we want to put out there.

MCCAMMON: Doing you want to sing me a line from it?

NORTH: Oh, absolutely.

(Singing) We can work together when we see a common need. I believe - I believe in the humanity of humanity.

My voice is cracking, but that's the chorus - I believe in the humanity of humanity.

MCCAMMON: Well, thank you so much. It's been such a joy to talk with you.

NORTH: All right. Please take care.

MCCAMMON: David North is the man behind the Doorway to Imagination, and he's brightened a whole lot of people's days in the past couple of weeks. You can see pictures of it at npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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