Off the Bus and Over the Mountains

Why so tired? My last night on Julia ended early with the alarm to get up and go visit my friend Mark. I woke up before then, stuck to my sleeping bag due to Knoxville humidity. Last night, Zach insisted on taking me out for beers. I was into it, so seven of us piled into the Road Dog truck and drove to a few spots before we found a late night bar that served food down in Old Town. Stef also turned 23 at midnight Monday morning, so we bellied up to the bar, sucked down car bombs (shots of Jameson in stout beer), and played songs on the juke during a few pool games. Time flew as usual so I crashed after 2 AM, with Zach playing a mellow song on his iPhone to sooth me into my last night on the road with the Sustainable Living Roadshow. This weekend flew by, a blur of Tennessee memories.

Friday night, I biked away from the Roadshow set up to attend Knoxville’s Critical Mass bike ride. It meets up at the Sunsphere around 5:30, so I showed up a bit early. I saw Sam, our UT contact for the SLR event, and his girlfriend head over to the Sunsphere. I asked a rider if it was free to go up and he said it was. So I ran and caught up with Sam. He turned 21 on Friday and was already a bit drunk. He and his girlfriend were headed to the bar up the tower, so I went up and checked out the view. Not to impressive, but fun to do. Back down, I handed out flyers to the Massers. Everyone seemed to know about the UT SLR event and was excited that we were here. No one knew that it was San Francisco’s Critical Mass 16th birthday, so I spread the SF history and cheer to all the Knoxville folks.
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Nowtopia in North Knox

After driving Pricilla through low hanging trees and bushes, we finally park her just below the United Mountain Defense Volunteer House. Matt from UMD met up with us in Happy Hollow where we’d spent the last two nights. He showed up just as we were about to drive north to the Volunteer House, where we would assess the gravel drive up to the house. We had directions, but Matt got to hop on the bus and talk us up there during Knoxville’s rush hour traffic.

With the Julia crew in Atlanta, dealing with a gas shortage after a great gig at the Tupac Shakur Foundation, we’d spent the last few days promoting the UT event. I had a great day biking all over the city, dropping off print jobs, hanging with the UMD folks at their on-campus bake sale, picking up flyers and posters, and then wandering around hanging the posters. I got to meet great folks, hand out flyers, and talk about the Roadshow. Many of the people knew about it, or let me hang posters. I even found a few stencils along the way.
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Photos fm Appalachia

Greets from the United Mountain Defense Volunteer House in North Knox(ville). Got to spend two brief nights here at the house and will head to the UT campus’s frat row for the rest of the week. We begin to set up the Roadshow tomorrow. Written post coming tomorrow. For now, check out some pics from the past week in Appalachia.


The small hill behind these creepy signs are mineland reforestation, headed up by Jon Rockett. I got to visit Wise County, VA’s Powell River Project Site during the ACE conference. I took the photo because of the blasting info, which didn’t happen while we were on the property.


Further in the blasting site, the dead mountain looms over a reforested cow field. To the left of this blown up mountain, several rolling hills of blasted debris have been seeded for grass and tree growth. I took this photo to show everyone what Big Coal is doing to the Appalachian landscape.

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ACE: Serious Solutions in Appalachia

Something seemed to be missing from Jon Rockett’s “Mineland Reforestation” tour. Some 60 miles north of Abingdon, VA, up in Wise County, Rockett took a group of about 15 people to several sites on the Powell River Project, and talked about all the great things that he and the mine company had done with these model reforestation projects. At the first stop, we looked at two areas that had grown back into nice wooded areas. Just down the road, beyond the sign that alerted visitors to blasting signals, a coal processing facility churned the coal out on to train cars and dump trucks. Beyond the processing facility, off a ways in the distance, a mountain stood over the scene, dead and bare. Most of the mountain had been blasted by tons of explosives to get to the coal seems that lay underneath the once forested geologic formation. Rockett didn’t bring up the mountain, and kept showing us the nice regnerated former wasteland that he’d worked on over the years. Continue reading “ACE: Serious Solutions in Appalachia”

Chicago Pics, Brief Update

Just a quick note from Chicago: SLR happened to be in Chicago during a record-break day of rain. 6.8 inches fell on Saturday, the most ever recorded in the city. So we kept the dome up and took down the games in ankle-deep mud. Had one workshop in the deluge and a nice amount of people attended. Friday had rain as well so attendance was low. Workshops were the highlight for Friday too.

We’ve managed to keep our spirits up and will head to Knoxville, TN. One bus will head to Georgia and then Mississippi and Louisiana. After an event for the Tupac Shakur Foundation in Atlanta, SLR will back up Jennifer Johns, and the Green for All organization, at LSU’s homecoming and at the presidential debates in Oxford, MS. The other bus will stay in Knoxville for pre-event production while the truck heads to western Virginia for the Appalachian Community Economics (ACE) Conference. Then the truck will head back to Knoxville for more pre-production and set up. All roads lead to Knoxville, my last stop on the bus!

Meanwhile, here are a few photos of a recent promo romp through Chicago’s Loop, along with one shot of the dome going up at UIC. Our set up day was beautiful, with the shiny Sears Tower in the background of our festival space. Puppets are from the Backbone Campaign.


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Side Trip to White Earth Nation, MN

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  1. Steph cuts veggies for our pasta lunch
  2. A pair of dancers enter the pow wow during opening ceremony
  3. Solar panels to the right, pow wow center tent on the other side, the Roadshow represents on the res
  4. Winona LaDuke tells the Roadshow that Callaway, MN has huge potential for wind powered turbines
  5. At the rice processing facilities for the Native Harvest organization

A new week begins and the Roadshow has finally left its humble parking lot HQ in Minneapolis for the big city of Chicago. Hit Yocum Oil to top off Pricilla before laying miles into Wisconsin. Fifty-five miles out of Eau Claire at the moment and cruising at our smooth 60-ish mph under beautiful puffy cloud cover and rollin fields of corn. We hope to make Madison before evening to refuel the vehicles at a station that has remnants of B100 biodiesel. The bio supply chain has dried up for anything over B20 due to the seasons changing into the cold months.

As I have learned on the bus, our vampiric addiction to electricity and wifi has caused me to finish this post from the Maui Wowi cafe in Chicago. Both buses have electrical nuances so all my tech was drained when we rolled in late last night. Got the phone and laptop charging and will finish up this post so I can get on task for Chicago promotions.

Got a feel for a cold Minnesota night when eight of the crew took Priscilla and the truck north to Callaway for the Niimiiwin Pow Wow. Winona LaDuke saw the Roadshow at Ripple Effect in St. Paul and offered an invitation to come to her home land of White Earth to be part of their small gathering. We had invitations to Wookie Foot’s Harvest Festival but opted instead to have our third gig on the reservation up at White Earth Nation. Tom and Zach stayed on Julia to do advance admin for the upcoming dates. Tyler had gotten sick so stayed behind to sleep and lay low.
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What, No Politics

After posting that navel-gazing blog entry a few nights ago, I found some time to wander over to my favorite places in the blogosphere to read entries from Pod and Chris Carlsson. Both of them had mentioned the political spectacle which I’ve dived into. I looked back over my entries and realized that I don’t have much commentary on what’s going on on the ground here in the DNC/RNC circus. I touched base a bit in Denver, and my food poisoning caused me to miss the main day of protests here in the Twin Cities. But, I must admit, the Roadshow has caused me to have an insular angle on the media frenzy. I have a few highlights that might give reflection on what’s been happening.

Basically, there is no room for the radical element in USA’s two party political system. The US government on down is not allowing dissent of any kind unless it is properly permitted and well behaved. Civil disobedience is not an option at all and we all know that millions of tax dollars have been thrown at the issue and that, since the WTO protest in Seattle in 1999, creative ways to be heard by a jaded media are all moot.
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Sordid Tales On The Bus

No secrets exist in a 320 square foot apartment for eight people. Once the Roadshow crew got thrown into the motor bus pot, all masks flew out the window. I’m not sure if the lack of personal space is a good thing or bad thing, and wonder what other people think about this subject. I have lived in tight quarters for the past three years, having five room mates in a “three bedroom” flat in the Mission District. But here on the bus, we’re literally packed like salty fish. I need to re-read Wolfe’s “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test” to see if he mentioned personal space. Like toilet moments in Hollywood movies, I haven’t experienced the sordid details of compact living via any type of media.

So, two nights ago, when I started spewing liquid out of my body, everybody knew about it. I got food poisoning after eating a store-bought sandwich at our gig in Lisbon Park, which started out as heart burn and ended up as a night filled with puking sessions. I chilled in my cubby as the crew had a supper, complete with mushrooms that Nick found at Clear Lake State Park in Iowa. Zach, Moe, and Veronica totally supported me, going to the store and buying juice and medicine, rubbing my stomach with peppermint, and making me tea. This was totally a sweet thing to do, and the true meaning of community.
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One Roadshow Down, Convoy Onward

Greetings from somewhere in the middle of Nebraska, USA. Chilling in Julia the Roadshow bus after doing a bit of logistical work via the creaky slow Verizon modem. Just booked two RV units outside of Des Moines, IA for tonight. Has electricity, pay wifi, and laundry facilities. Oh, and showers too. Pricilla ran great last night from Denver to Ogallala, NE, so the Roadshow (three vehicles) clocked out at a sweet 60 mph the whole way.

We got walkie talkies in Denver for the two-day festival so had one on for each vehicle. I found CB lingo on my Blackberry and shared the slang to the other vehicles while riding shotgun in the truck for Tom and Nick. Jonathan and David took the slang and turned it into a mongrel language full of poo and pee jokes, urban flavors, and David’s alien mumblings. We all enjoyed riffing on the various terms for a prostitute, “free ride” “pro beaver” etc. Not too PC but it kept all the drivers up for the 4 hour shlep across the state line.
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Slivers of Denver

Daily Show Rob Riggle

The Daily Show meets the Roadshow, as Jonathan freaks out Rob Riggle. Who’s the freak, tie-boy?

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  1. freewheel!n has a free bike program set up all over Denver, only from 7 to 7, so I haven’t gotten to hope on for a ride
  2. The carnival games at Green Frontier on Sunday, under the enjoyable sculptures
  3. An interesting display at Green Frontier, letting us know how bad a bottle of water really is

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