"What a Trip" Planning

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What a long strange trip to be...

Right after the Aug 18-20 Twin Oaks communities gathering near Louisa, VA, we'll journey through Black Rock City at Burning Man in Gerlach, NV, and thence to the Sep 8-10 FIC Art of Community Event, cosponsored by the NW Intentional Communities Association in the Seattle area.

Along the way, we will...

  • spread the word of community
  • Link communities
  • Foster networks across the bioregions

Why The Trip?

It's about integration, and an alignment of interests, and an alignment of well-timed events. This is a rare opportunity to link communitarians with several decades of experience living in community to a new generation, one finding temporary community through Burning Man, and hungry for more. Burning Man is looking for Ambassadors and building regional networks, as FIC is. The trip can serve us to help demystify the movement, build bridges, infuse new energy, and foster a spirit of sharing.

Let's prioritize what we're hoping to accomplish (feel free to re-order this list, add or subtract):

  1. Build awareness of the Communities movement
    1. Attract press coverage
    2. Attract burner (Burning Man participants) attention - build anticipation prior to BM
    3. Attract attention from communitarians
  2. Provide an enriching, bonding experience for trip participants
    1. Connections from this lead to higher impact in future
  3. Some FIC fundraising
    1. Must have positive cash flow - from FIC point of view
  4. Link the FIC and Burning Man
  5. Provide education and connection for communities we visit
    1. "All aboard for next stop" - define stops where people can join up

How do we travel?

  • Auto caravan
  • Biodiesel bus
  • Amtrak (+some fill-in-the-gaps bus)
  • Green Tortoise (bus with on-board sleepers)

Costing out:

Auto caravan

The default if nothing else comes together. Independent travel, broadly coordinated/aligned. Best for small group. Perhaps truck for equipment transport. Most flexible. Highest cost per person? Perhaps yes, but how much is already sunk cost? What will gas prices be? What will the perception be of an "unnecessary" trip using inefficient technology, "wasting" precious natural resources - wouldn't that be counter to our values/message around conservation, Peak Oil, sustainability, etc.?

The distance to be covered and the available time do make this option challenging... if we're camping and traveling by day, and more people are driving, they'll be too exhausted to participate as much in the evenings and then there's the extra costs/logistics of camping as opposed to a vehicle/transportation mode with onboard sleeping and professional night-shift drivers.

Craig asks: What about having one highly visible vehicle, like a Big Bio Bus, plus lots of individual cars of various types, the closer we get to BM, the more... we could have flags or something that cars could fly and we could make little detours off the inter-states to get attention in pre-arranged manners. Raines replies: that could work. The reality is that most buses available for biodiesel conversion are old, and slow, especially at hill-climbing. It would be a challenge to make the timetable given the distances and terrain between communities, especially crossing the rockies.

A caravan of 60's era psychadelic VW vans would be garner huge attention by playing into the archetype.

Biodiesel Bus

A number of biodiesel busses are running around the country at this point, many of which would probably love to be part of such an adventure as we're focalizing. Arron -- when will the bus you're on be back in the states? I'll talk to others I know, and once we have a better idea of a schedule leading up to the Twin Oaks event perhaps we'll have some busses onboard we can board. -- Vince (CR: a biodiesel bus would also be a perfect symbol for this, especially if painted fancy colors!)

A couple of Biodiesel Bus Projects

Link to a Permaculture Bus Tour


Looking at train timings, here's what could work in the broadest possible sense: after the Twin Oaks conference, late afternoon [Mon] depart from Charlottesville,VA gets to Indianapolis by dawn (15 hrs). Enjoy the day [Tues] there, and overnight somewhere between there and west of there. Do a bus connection to St. Louis or environs, and do community things there [Wed]. Late afternoon depart arrives Kansas City by 9ish PM. Train from somewhere north of there overnight to Denver [Thu], visit communities in that area, do scenic crossing of Rockies by day [Fri], hostel overnight. Afternoon depart from Glenwood Springs, CO [Sat] arrives Reno by morning [Sun] (optional 2 AM extra day in Salt Lake City). Stage and go to Burning Man (Gerlach, NV). Thence head NW to Seattle, perhaps by way of Bay Area.

get to Charlottesville for 3:50 PM train (only every other day, so Mon depart not an option); head West onboard overnightDawn arrive Indianapolis; breakfast, bus west; camp at community along the waySt. Louis area cmty visit; train PM arrives Kansas City 9 PM; connect to Southwest Chief to La JuntaDenver arrive late AM, community visits, overnight Boulderbus thru Rockies, end up at Glenwood Springs; stay at hostelPM depart, overnight trainAM arrival Reno, stage and shuttle to the Playa

Assumptions: Amtrak is still running next summer with current schedule, pricing. May need additional equipment transport, logistics support. Overnights onboard can be pricey if coach isn't enough.

Current retail pricing: $234 coach for Amtrak segments, plus some bus shuttling. Add $350/pp for onboard sleeper (double occupancy)+meals. Add more for segments from Reno to SF Bay Area to Burning Man. 20% discount for groups of 20 or more; 10% discount for seniors; Raines requested (12/26) a quote from the group-travel department.

It may be that FIC's onboard teaching activities (Intentional Communities University) may qualify us all as students, and therefore eligible for a $20 "Student Advantage" card that gets us a 15% discount on travel and passes.

Note that a 30-day US/Canada rail pass is $766 ($650 for seniors), and may be ideal for anyone doing a trip that includes travel to Twin Oaks plus this trip plus continuing up to Vancouver and across/around from there (or starting up there beforehand). If this is a popular option, we'd want to rearrange to take full advantage of Amtrak-provided travel for all segments.

Green Tortoise (ruled out)=

  • Green Tortoise charter? (No, Raines put in a request for a quote on a charter, and it turns they don't have availability of buses or driver for a trip of this magnitude when we need it)

Which communities shall we visit?


  • Who would welcome a group?
  • Which communities are along the route?
  • Which communities have the most to teach us?
  • Which communities can learn best from us?

Some Possibilities

  • East Wind
  • The Farm (TN)
  • Nyland Cohousing (Lafayette, CO near Boulder)
  • Wild Sage Cohousing (Boulder)
  • Muir Commons (Davis, CA)
  • Metro Cohousing at Culver Way (St. Louis, MO)

What to do at Burning Man?

  • Black Rock University / Intentional Communities University (aka ICU)
  • Bioregional art helping people connect in regions

Brainstorming with Vince: large-scale art project representing bioregions. Build a (viewing) platform 20 x 40 feet. Interactive art. Disassemble, each of us take our own regions back, work on them more over the year, then put back together the following year. Paper mache topography? start with US/N. America. Find people from different areas to participate. We're defining a standard. Markers, art tools for people to add to. Have frame be built together so it all fits together properly. 5x5 sections. 32 sections.

City Repair is interested and already pursuing Burning Man connections.

Note that Burning Man tickets are now on sale (cheapest tickets sell out fast); low-income discounts and scholarships are available.

Some Random Ideas/Questions

  • We need to accomodate different groups of people who would be on each of the two legs:
  1. Twin Oaks to Burning Man
  2. Burning Man to FIC AoC.
  • Could look at a growing number of people involved as the trip progresses
  • Perhaps open events that invite local people to "join in" as part of the trip
  • Set up broad (online) community support for the whole thing...
  • Live webcasting throughout the whole thing?
  • Engage with serious burners already living in community?
  • Special attention to ICs with serious involvement in the arts?

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