535 Matt Nelson


When I set out for Philadelphia in 2004, my mother presented me with a gift which would come to serve as one of her final life lessons. Pulling back the swaths of suede wrapping, an ornate chess set was revealed, depicting a matchup between Spanish conquistadores and Tenochtitlan Aztec warriors. While beautiful, the specificity of the gift was at once both intriguing and perplexing. Seeing my expression, she would go on to reveal the underlying meaning…the moment in history depicted in the chess set, like so many others, should serve as a cautionary tale. Like many adventurers before, I was uprooting my life and settling in a foreign place. A place with a history and people that were to be respected. To move forward in this life strategy of relocation, but that in becoming a part of that place, it was now my responsibility to in some way enrich it, to ensure that my presence should serve to add to the culture and vitality, in tribute to those that had come before and in service of those that would follow. Essentially everything that was neglected in the sixteenth century example in front of me. Although at times distracted, I never stray far before those words return to me. Whether it be it a large social undertaking or merely a moment of kindness, to continue to contribute to the wonderful experiment of this great city. So I now offer up this piece of that chess set – in tribute to from whom I came and to all those that have welcomed me to this new land. I can think of no better space for those ideas to live on than here at this hub, teeming with visitors, newcomers and lifelong adventurers alike, all adding to the richness of this place we call home.