Day 31: Baby Bus brings me home, brings us togetherJuly 15, 2012 4:08 pm Leave your thoughts
Counting all of our meanderings from city to city and in and out of neighborhoods, Baby Bus has traveled close to 4000 miles for one month to finally bring me home to Tucson, AZ. (“Baby Bus” is the affectionate term for our 4th generation of the Big Green Bus). I am grateful for her unfaltering engine and air conditioning, which so far have not given us any troubles. All day Thursday, Baby Bus took us from the crisp air of the high desert of Taos, NM to the warm embrace of the Sonoran desert in southern Arizona. Miles of fragrant sage brush and piñon pine gave way to brittle bush and cacti. Traveling this considerable distance completely on waste vegetable oil, liberated from dependence on foreign oil or gas stations, was unbelievably satisfying. Baby Bus not only takes us places, but also uses her striking green looks to bring people to us that we would likely never meet otherwise. Morgan Curtis, a 2011 Busser, reminded us of this important power of the Bus at the beginning of the summer, and it is something I have noticed and appreciated ever since.
In Tucson on Friday morning, we held an event at the Tucson Village Farm, an educational urban farm that abuts Campbell Ave, a busy main artery into the city. Baby Bus brought people out to TVF who had never been there before, which has been the aim of our “community action” focus this summer: to inspire people to get involved with community organizations and to engage in service projects ourselves alongside locals. Several of the people who came out to see the Bus raved about TVF after they explored the field under cultivation and the garden area full of sunflowers, native varieties of squash, tomatoes, basil, and placards with fun facts and nutritional information. Kids from local schools and summer camps help out with most of the planting and harvesting at TVF, so we planted a quarter acre of popcorn with several kids and their families on Friday. My planting buddy, Jensen, had never been to the farm before, but assured me that he “would come back to this place.”
When I was growing up, this land adjacent to Campbell Avenue was just a vacant lot; I don’t think I ever gave it a second glance the few hundred times I drove by it. I am excited that the space has now been transformed into a lush, fun place where kids, teens, and families can go to learn about food production from seed to table. TVF holds cooking classes, has a beautiful mural with nutritional advice in English and Spanish, and models sustainable agricultural techniques with composting and pecan shell mulch. As a result, the small staff at TVF (partly AmeriCorps volunteers) brings community together in new ways at TVF that foster health, time in the outdoors, and physical activity.
After a series of great conversations with Tucsonans at TVF and downtown at a Farmers’ Market the next day (which Kels will blog about), I felt like I got to know my hometown in a new way, and really internalized how different it is to be a child somewhere versus an independent adult. I’m proud of all the effort that Tucson has poured into revitalizing the downtown area, supporting local urban farms, and figuring out how to live more sustainably in an arid, sun-scorched desert. There is a strong sense of place and creativity that calls to me like a siren song.