STRASBURG – What started as a photography project three years ago for Jean-Yves Bart of Strasbourg, France has turned into a globe-trotting adventure taking him to eight different Strasburgs around the United States and Canada. His final stop, here in Strasburg, Virginia allowed him to reflect on his month-long cross-country road trip.
“I once heard towns that share the same name have secret tunnels that connect them to one another,” Bart said. “A fairy tale nonetheless, I’m digging my own secret tunnels by learning what each Strasburg has in common.”
Bart, a translator for the University of Strasbourg and freelancer, began his cross-country trip on Easter Sunday, passing through Strasburg on his way out west. His adventures led him to Strasburg, Colorado where he spent several days learning about the landscape and community. There he discovered, while looking at a map, that there were 16 Strasburgs, with various spellings around the world. He’s currently visited eight of them: Strasburg, Missouri, Strasburg, Illinois, Strasburg, Ohio, Strasburg, Pennsylvania and back to Strasburg, Virginia on Thursday.
In 2016, Bart visited Strasburg, Colorado and in 2017 Strasbourg, Saskatchewan, Canada and Strasburg, North Dakota.
“It’s been an experience,” he said. “I’ve been introduced to many individuals and seen many places. I find it difficult to put it into words.”
Thankfully, Bart, a photographer has his camera in tow, helping him capture the many names and faces he meets on his journey.
Along the way, Bart said he met a man in North Dakota who was born in his hometown of Strasbourg, France and was also there during World War II.
“His family then moved to Los Angeles in the 60s and he was trained in the movies,” Bart said. “When he retired, he moved to Strasburg, North Dakota. Funny how that panned out.”
In Strasburg, Ohio, Bart met an online viral phenomenon known for an anti-President Trump message he created out of manure and spread in his farm field. And in Strasburg, Pennsylvania he met the former editor of the Strasburg News.
His final stop before heading back home was here in the quaint town of Strasburg where Bart said he had the pleasure of meeting many hospitable individuals like Strasburg’s youngest entrepreneur J.P. Lindsay and Mayor Rich Orndorff. He visited the Strasburg Theater for what he called a “joyful music production,” explored the Great Strasburg Emporium, learned the meaning behind the wooden cross on King Street, and stayed at the Holliday House bed and breakfast.
“Funny thing about places that have the same name,” he said. “I didn’t think they’d have anything [in] common. But they do. A sense of community.”
Bart said his experience has taught him many things, but mostly that things are bigger than he realized and to continue to widen his horizons, something he said he hopes the people he’s met along the way will also consider.
Raised by his parents, who are both professors, Bart said he always appreciated geography, history, sociology and art. Those four characteristics, he said, have played major parts in his his journey.
“If we look hard enough, we can see there’s a magic of sorts in language,” he said. “I’ve chosen to capture it through photos because it’s a good way to get into places.”
He ended his cross-country road trip on Thursday, and returned to D.C. to catch a flight back home to Strasbourg, France, where he will continue to freelance until his next big adventure.
Bart said his ultimate goal is to be the first man to visit all 16 Strasburgs, write a book and share the magic of language through his photos. This fall he will open his first art exhibit, showcasing his personal Strasburg experiences.
“It’s ultimately hard to put into words my feelings or impression on the whole thing,” Bart said. “But we all belong to something bigger. Even if we simply live in a town with the same name.”
Follow Bart’s adventure’s online: jybart.berta.me