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2 Uncles And A 'Doorway To Imagination' Spread Love On Social Media

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 the backyard branch and wood art piece that David North built with all his social distancing-created free time.

His niece Kimberly Adams, a correspondent for the public radio show Marketplace, tweeted about it.

At a time when the heavy news keeps coming, people fell hard for the doorway and for "Uncle David" himself. The tweets about North and his creation quickly racked up tens of thousands of likes and retweets.

When he gave NPR a virtual tour of his rural Maryland home Friday morning, his roosters crowed in the background. North says he's always liked tinkering in the yard. When North's husband faced some health issues in the last few years, tackling backyard projects helped him cope with the stress.

David York and David North live in rural Maryland, where David North built the<em> Doorway to Imagination</em> with parts of wood in their backyard.
/ David North
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David North
David York and David North live in rural Maryland, where David North built the Doorway to Imagination with parts of wood in their backyard.

"I found some old wood behind one of our sheds, and for some reason I thought of: 'Let me build myself a door,' " he says. "It doesn't really open, but it looks like a door."

The structure looks like something you'd find in a secret garden or a little hut in the forest.

"It looks kind of surreal," he says. "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."

North says this project is an act of catharsis — not escape.

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

David North and his husband, also named David, both sport big white fluffy beards. And for the past 30 years they've coordinated matching outfits.

They're an interracial couple and say they're both frustrated by the injustices that have taken center stage in the news this week. They've taken time to discuss concepts like white privilege.

"And it's not an argument," North says. "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 the people that we know, but even the people that we don't know — that we all deserve love. We all deserve respect."

North says that's the message he hopes he can spread through his new social media fame.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sarah McCammon is a National Correspondent covering the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast for NPR. Her work focuses on political, social and cultural divides in America, including abortion and reproductive rights, and the intersections of politics and religion. She's also a frequent guest host for NPR news magazines, podcasts and special coverage.
Sam Gringlas is a journalist at NPR's All Things Considered. In 2020, he helped cover the presidential election with NPR's Washington Desk and has also reported for NPR's business desk covering the workforce. He's produced and reported with NPR from across the country, as well as China and Mexico, covering topics like politics, trade, the environment, immigration and breaking news. He started as an intern at All Things Considered after graduating with a public policy degree from the University of Michigan, where he was the managing news editor at The Michigan Daily. He's a native Michigander.