why I need a bus

It’s been suggested to me by a very wise soul (thanks Pix) that I haven’t explained clearly enough why I need a bus. It seems really obvious to me, but often the most important things in life don’t get voiced because of silly assumptions. And it’s a fair question: why do you need a bus to make/share geek art?

Most of what reallybigroadtrip is about happens in my life anyway because I’m kind of obsessed by it. I hang out with people who make interesting geeky creative things and so I frequently have creative geeky conversations. I am a member of the Hackerspace crew in Adelaide and am trying to re-learn how to be an artist again so I’m tinkering and making things quietly whenever I can (I’ve even started to knit, which isn’t geeky in & of itself but is definitely a starting point to some cunning plans…). When invited I travel to conferences and festivals (sometimes talking/making, sometimes just watching/playing) and immerse with communities who share my interests.

So, cool. I’m doing it already. Why do I need a bus? Well here’s four reasons, just to get going.

1. Going where the action is.

I  believe very strongly that creativity does not just happen in city centres. I also believe it doesn’t come when it’s called like some well-trained puppy-dog. It just does its thing, wherever that thing might happen to, well, happen. So rather than setting up shop somewhere and expecting everyone to come find me, I figure it’ll be far more effective to go out and find the people doing the interesting things, wherever they are.

I could be wrong. Maybe there are no artists – digital or otherwise – in regional and remote Australia. Maybe no one anywhere in this country even cares about using the internet for creative practice, never mind wants an NBN. Maybe. But having a bus will enable me to drive around and find out for myself. I’ll be able to research online and then talk – face to face! – with people in pubs, cafes, community centres, libraries, on benches, wherever. I’ll get a really good idea of what people are thinking about or doing with creative technology. And I’ll be blogging, collaborating with people to make work, sharing knowledge and running surveys all along the way.

Road trips are surprising things, and I like adventures. By crowdsourcing where I go and what I do while I’m there this all becomes even more of an adventure, with even more surprising outcomes. And my Nomads in Residence will allow me to see this amazing country through their eyes (as well as my own!).

2. What’s wrong with Public Transport?

Quick, Everyone, Pledge to Keep Fee Out of Interstate Coach Transport"

Quick, Everyone, Pledge to Keep Fee Out of Interstate Coach Transport”

Yeah, I *could* fly everywhere… except flying is really expensive, truly awful for the planet and only really gets you to city centres. I *could* use interstate coaches, or trains, they’re often cheaper and they do go to more regional/remote areas. But as my friend Ben suggested a couple of weeks ago, that might not be quite so pleasant. Especially for someone who’s planning on doing this consistently for the foreseeable future, rather than one or two trips over a couple of weeks or months. I might have chosen art over commerce but that doesn’t mean I have to be miserable, does it?

Public transport means I would have to reduce everything I need into a backpack & lug it from town to town. I wouldn’t be able to carry anything vaguely like a 3D printer or whatever other gadgets I’m likely to be learning or sharing. It would mean ongoing expenses of bus/train/air tickets, plus staying in hostels and tents, cooking from a tiny portable stove and not having anywhere to accommodate my Nomads.

Relying on public transport also entirely removes the potential for randomly offering pop-up coffee-mornings, guerrilla screenings, workshops, or the creation of a safe, secure & playful environment for collaborations and all the other things that I’m planning on doing in my bus.

3. Sustainability.

I’m fascinated by alternative economic models. How could I not be? I grew up in Thatcher’s Britain in an era of excessive consumerism and corporate control. Right now I’m looking back at my home country wondering what the hell happened over there. Banks who made epic, foolish mistakes are bailed out and yet continue to profit while public services like the NHS are being privatised. As the G20 meet in Rio this week I discover that the richest industry in the world – fossil fuels – continue to receive subsidies whilst systematically destroying our planet. WTF?

Now nearing my 40s I look at the world I’m part of and wonder what kind of monsters are in charge and when someone is going to do something about it. And then I realise that I’m that someone. If I want the world to be a better place, I have to make that change. I have to live the life I want to be proud of, even though I will have to make some major changes and learn how to be better. Better to the people around me, to myself, and to the planet.

Maybe it’s not as bad here, maybe we have a good, easy life in Australia. Maybe it’s exactly the same as in the UK and I just haven’t yet seen the truth. Or maybe it’s just a matter of time before we copy the British model and it all goes totally to shit here too. I don’t know, but I want to find out.

You’ve heard “give a man a fish/teach a man to fish…” right? Well this is “give a Fee a bus ticket and she’ll have a very interesting time in one place with one group of people. But give her a bus, and she will travel sustainably all over the country without the need for airplanes, hotels, office space for meetings/workshops, restaurants, etc…”. Sure there will be fuel costs, food, bits of kit, internet access, and expenses around my Nomads. But I’m planning on running dual-fuel vegetable oil/diesel setup and I’ll be tracking my carbon footprint.

4. Buses are sexy (much more sexy than bow ties).

I have said it before, and I’ll most definitely say it again: I LOVE BUSES! Kombi vans, Double Deckers, campervans of most types, even a few boats and caravans get me hot under the collar! It seems I am a Cancerian who likes to make home, but travel with that home on her back. The idea of going off adventuring but having a welcoming space to share with others (or to safely hide-away quietly for work or down-time) is just HEAVEN to me!

my old bus

my old bus – total rust-bucket. but i loved her!

But more importantly, this bus will also make a statement: I’m coming to find you wherever you are because I believe you exist and I think that’s important. Just because someone doesn’t have a facebook page, apply for arts funding, or show their work in galleries does not mean it’s not happening. And the statement will be so much more sexy since the bus is being designed by Geoff Cobham! We haven’t exactly settled on the look and feel yet, but everyone who comes to play, share, learn, talk & listen in that space will remember it as something special.

The bus makes the entire project so much more than just me.

So, why do I need a bus?

  • Because it’s going to help me get to meet the people I don’t know, in the places I don’t know.
  • Because it’s easier, safer, more pleasant, ecologically responsible and financially cost-effective than public transport – especially over the timescales I’m planning.
  • Because it’s an experiment in doing things differently; putting myself out there by crowdsourcing my life & reporting back on what happens; being honest about the damage I’m doing just by living in the world and taking responsibility for that.
  • But mainly I need a bus because then this project becomes a thing that’s so much more than the sum of its parts.

Don’t get me wrong, I get a LOT out of this deal, I know. And the 95 people who have pledged anything from $1 to $250 a person up to the current total of $5,351 believe that they also get something out of this too. So please join all of us and help make this thing come to life. Because I can’t do this without you: http://pozible.com/reallybigroadtrip