Home > Uncategorized > The Confessions of Mike Trapp Chapter 0: Snapshot

The Confessions of Mike Trapp Chapter 0: Snapshot

It was a real act of providence that my friend Trevor Harris was opening a recording business called Recollection Agency. I booked him quickly to be customer #1. Stymied on which of my many tales to tell my brother asked a salient question about what my thesis was. I think I said that we could take the broken pieces cast aside by society and use those pieces as tools to build the New Better World. John suggested I model it after Augustine’s Confessions which I had read as a young man. Here is my spiritual journey. The first chapter called Chapter 0 is a nice snapshot of pre-COVID world Mike. Glad I documented who I was before I reinvented myself (again).


I’m Michael Trapp and I am the Second Ward City Council representative for the City of Columbia. I am the principal of 4-A-Change, which is a social services and consulting firm here in Columbia. Missouri.

Mike standing 03312020


I decided to do this project because I have been asked about doing memoirs or writing a

biography and autobiography because I’m been blessed with an interesting life and been thoughtful in my approach. I’ve decided early on that I had an interest in becoming a writer and I thought about what would be the two paths to learning to be a great writer. And one I was becoming a wordsmith and crafting language and that seemed like a lot of hard work. I thought the other writers I liked had interesting things to say, had interesting stories to tell and had an interesting perspective on life.

I thought if you could live an interesting life and become an adequate writer that that could be another way. I consciously decided at a pretty young age that I was going to choose the more interesting story. I started to think about my life as a novel. As I did that more I came to realize that I didn’t need to write a book, but I do have this desire to share my story. I thought a good place to start would be at the end because every story is kind of a snapshot in time. Where I’m at today is kind of interesting and might inform kind of how I got to where I’m at today.

I live in what I call the Leslie Lane Family Living Center. It’s a home that I own and that I purchased as a place to have for myself and my father when I saw that he was going to retire. He was a truck driver. And after my mom died, he just lived in his truck. I just didn’t think that he would be able to make it on his own. He was a proud guy.

I moved to Columbia for no good reason in 2006. I bought a house and Dad came to Columbia. I asked him to come and help me because I’m not very handy. We lived together in my new three-bedroom house.

One of the things I’m passionate about is sustainability. And so we use resources by household size and not by individuals. Since I had this three-bedroom house I looked for a roommate situation. I brought in my friend Harry Train who I had recruited from Toledo, Ohio, where he was a janitor in a church. At the time I was a substance abuse counselor at a treatment agency. I thought that Harry as a person in recovery had some unique beliefs.

As we lived together, we lived family-style. When I think of a family living center, I think of filling up the house with as many people as is comfortable. And I had three bedroom house: three, four people. If you have a couple, there’s a nice, you know, way to efficiently use resources, live and cook dinner together. And so family dinner is a big part of what we do. And then we try to live sustainably.

We recycle and we compost and we garden. I’ve got solar panels on the house. I’ve tricked it all out with energy efficiency. It allows us to have a real low cost of living and a low, low energy impact per person. And to have this family-style impact.

Currently I live with my brother. My father had passed away and his partner Flo, who was someone that I knew from the community who needed a room and had moved in and lived with me like I was family. And then when my brother moved in they got into a romantic relationship, which is funny cause they’re both hermits. Of course, they would only be able to be a romantic partner in their own home. And that’s the beauty of the family living center. It cultivates relationships. And is that core sense of community, you know?

I have a Master’s degree in Sociology and one of the big things I got out of that was kind of where does self-identity come from? What is in it?

In Sociology, we talk about status and master status. Status is that kind of role that you define yourself in and master status is that big singular thing that people define themselves. For men, it’s frequently defined by their work and for women it’s frequently defined by their relationships. I’m a mom, I’m a mechanic.

For me, I decided when I learned about master status in my twenties that I want to be a good person. I don’t want to be defined by my work.  I’ve tried to learn from the best of women’s way of communicating and being and men’s way of communicating. And being, and to be a whole person who is in touch with my feelings, but also I’m driven to accomplish things in the world and very direct as well. That drives me to live sustainably, to try to help people. I’ve been blessed to be able to do that in a real powerful way.

Seven years ago I decided to run for the Columbia City Council because nobody was running 10 days before the filing deadline. I had only lived in Columbia for about six years. And as you hear the story, I’ve had an interesting path for even local politics.

I threw my hat in the ring and as unlikely as it was, I got elected and I have been proud to serve the community. That’s been a transformative experience. It’s been a great learning experience. Being on City Council made me an even better ecologist because I know where my trash goes. I know where my water comes from. I know where my waste goes. It helps me understand how the whole loop and how I’m involved and how I impact the world around me. It also allows me to help make change and to see that our community is more sustainable and more equitable and has more opportunity for the people who need it the most.

I’ve spent a career in social services working with a bunch of different populations. There’s been this desire to want to help people in a real direct way. So I’ve done about 30 years experience of that. The last 10 I was a I was recruited at Phoenix Programs where I was a case manager, substance abuse counselor, manager, clinical trainer, and, ultimately, executive director. I found a career type job and City Council to be maddening and it was really more than I could handle.

I gave up the career and realized that I could really only work part-time and do justice to my self-care regimen, which really suffered when I ran for City Council. I really kind of moved it into the red line of life and was going real hard and fast and 16 hour days, seven days a week for years or are nearly that. A day off was four hours of emails and reading and that was the best I ever got and I didn’t get a lot of those.

Right after I left Phoenix Programs someone from Welcome Home, a homeless veteran’s shelter, asked if I would be interested in doing some consulting. I had mentored their executive director when she was new and we were both executive directors in the community. I started a social entrepreneurship business with my brother John. John is really amazing. He can do all kinds of stuff. He helped with the back-end of the business and helping me get organized and did the paperwork. I still do consulting for Welcome Home. I help with their training and their continuous quality improvement projects and provide expert advice. It’s kind of nice to be heavily involved in a non-profit but not responsible for it.

One of the programs I created when I was at Phoenix Programs was a downtown outreach program for people who are homeless or panhandling downtown. After I left Phoenix they struggled to perform with that contract because it was kind of outside of their core mission of moving people into long-term recovery. So John and I put in for that contract and we received the bid and for the last two years we’ve been operating a homeless outreach program. We’ve gotten 10 people housed and three people into longterm recovery and two people into employment reunited a handful of people with their families and in other communities and have done a lot of things about just kind of basic support and been kind of ombudspeople between the business community and people who are struggling for their lives publicly in the streets of downtown. I also do individual consultations and coaching sessions on drinking reduction. We helped somebody move.

We focused our business on what we call change transition processes. The name of the company 4-A-Change comes from what I consider the four A’s of the change process, which are awareness, assessment, action and accountability.

I’m everyday bicycle commuter and was car sharing with John, my brother, but that didn’t really work out for him. Since last summer I’ve just been riding my bike everywhere and it’s been really a put me more in touch with the outdoors and got me in better shape and I’ve really enjoyed it and I’m going to continue to try to push that.

I consider myself a spiritual person and have an active spiritual life. That’s kind of the thesis and the things that I’m going to talk about. When I looked at how much time I wanted to devote to this project and how much story I have to tell I realized I wasn’t going to get to tell my whole story. It takes me about two and a half days to tell my story the last time I told it in full. It might be longer now, because I’ve had a lot more interesting experiences since then.

The thesis is I want to talk about is my development as a spiritual person. It animates what I do and though I often, I rarely talk about it directly except in kind of intimate experiences. It’s really kind of the dominant force in my life and has really shaped who I became and who I am now and hopefully who I’m going to grow into in the future.

I try to be a personal scientist. I try to be aware and learn and apply and take knowledge and be on a self-improvement process and learn more about the cosmos and the human condition and what’s my place on it and how can I be most effective in building the world that I would like to live in.

That’s kind of who I am. The rest of this project is going to be kind of how I got to be here. Here is the next chapter. I’m still working on editing and correcting the chapter numbers to match my idiosyncratic approach to numbers.


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