18 Uncles — What I Hope to Learn

Attempting to set some goals for this endeavor

Mitchell Peterson


Christmas picture with my father, his two brothers, and my brothers Cole and Braden.

Note to readers: My work has shifted to another website and all posts are at Substack.com. This is simply an introduction for my former Medium.com audience.

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As much as I would like to dive right into the details of Upper Michigan and the peculiarities of the “dontcha knoooo” accent, it’s important to first show the roadmap and give reasons for embarking on this bizarre yet hopefully beautiful journey.

Why, after nine years in Europe, having a nice apartment in Prague, and friends throughout the continent, am I flying back to a rural Michigan village of four thousand people, back to the place I spent twenty-three years dreaming about leaving?

Well, partly because I think America is in desperate need of respectful dialogue, and I know my uncles and I can engage with respect for one another and hopefully be a model for others.

But, ultimately, there’s so much more selfishly that I want to learn.

Having lost my father so young and having now spent so many years away, most of the intentions and dreams for this project fall under the umbrella of “getting to know the family better and learning about my father.”

But as I begin this adventure, I’ve been trying to think of additional motivations and value to readers that would help me feel like quitting a job, giving up a visa, and changing continents was going to be worth it, not only for me but for my family and everyone taking the journey through the writing on this blog.

It will no doubt be a year of discovery, and I’m still not sure how it will go or what I’ll find out along the way, but there are a few things I’d like to know.

For starters, I want to learn from the people who knew my father a lot longer than I…



Mitchell Peterson

Freelance writer who spent nine years outside the US, currently in rural America writing the Substack bestseller 18 Uncles.