University Science Professor Moves into Shuttle Bus to Live Carbon Neutral

University Science Professor Moves into Shuttle Bus to Live Carbon Neutral

October 9, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


I’m Jeanine. I am a lecturer at San Jose
State University. I am an ethno-ecologist. This is Lousã. She’s a min-pin. We live in
The Champion. I was living in Northern California. I was renting these beautiful places out in the mountains at reasonable rates. I thought I need to
switch this up. I remember this instant where I was driving behind a shuttle bus
and the shuttle bus was making a left turn in front of me and I said, “that bus
is good-looking. It’s shiny. It’s white. It has these huge windows all around it.
If it’s a bus it must have its own air conditioning heating system”, and I had a
bunch of leftover pension funds some of the tiny little ones that weren’t going
to do anything because at that time the stock market wasn’t doing so great. Then
I found a bus for exactly what my two pension funds put together. I bought the bus and I drove to Sacramento got a father-son team to put
the floor in. I drove back to the place I was renting at the time. I moved
everything out in one week. I basically took my studio bedroom and configured it
to fit in the bus. As an ecologist I teach environmental science. I teach climate change. I teach living responsibly, living sustainably. I believe
that I can’t be an honest authentic ethical teacher if I am not living
exactly what I teach. Every year I’ve set a new goal for myself to live more
sustainably. The next logical step was to live tiny, to live small. The thing with a
lot of tiny homes is people build from new, build from scratch. I wanted to
recycle and the best way to recycle was to get a bus. This is a Champion Challenger with an e450 engine. It’s a Ford engine with a shuttle bus chassis that would have fit
I think 16 to 20 people and now it’s just me and a dog. This is a 45 watt
panel connected to one battery which is the house battery that came with the bus.
It has a ton of windows which is what I wanted it in my home. I wanted a lot of
light. I installed screening all on one side of the bus. All of this furniture used to be in my bedroom studio. This bed which has been sawed to be half of its
height. This screen allows me to keep all of my windows open and only partially
curtained. I want to wake up with light and with being able to see all the trees
that are around me, but I also want privacy. Much of the artwork is made by
different artisans from tribes and tribal communities here in California.
This is also from palmer lady who does some amazing designs. This palm is special to me. It’s Areca catechu which is a betel nut palm and that’s native to
Southeast Asia and a third of my life is spent in Southeast Asia which is why I
have an adopted family of the tato a clan of about 3,000 people. My dog Luca
has her bed right down there and I also have a walk-in closet which most women want. This is my privy and it can also serve
as a shower. This is the minibar. It’s a ladies
traveling case and it has about 40 different liquors in it. This pantry is
full of food. Most of my cooking is done on an induction cooktop but when I don’t
have access to grid power I cook on a bio light stove that is filled with
little tiny chips of Redwood. I built into my systems here there’s Plan A and
Plan B and sometimes there’s even a Plan C so if I’m hooked into the grid I can
use my two electric lights. I can run my electric heater and my induction
stovetop. If I’m off-grid then I either use my battery-powered lights or use the
solar panel and I use wood fuel to cook on. I made a decision to go with
absolutely no propane because in becoming carbon neutral I wanted to
maximize how I could generate my own electricity through solar. I didn’t want
to be reliant on natural gas or on propane and also it’s dangerous. I felt
really nervous about having propane around whether it was on the back of my
bus or inside my bus. I have another pantry and the Yeti cooler. You would
think that you’d want to use this for cooling but for me it’s better to store
food in it because I would otherwise always have to be getting dry ice and
this keeps my food more temperature stabilized. And for those of us who rely
on chocolate in the middle of the summer either you have your chocolate in the
refrigerator or you have your chocolate in the Yeti so I have two. One Yeti here and one Yeti cooler there and then I have a tiny little igloo fridge
that is low enough wattage. This cloth here is handcrafted by the
weavers in the Manggarai region in Indonesia where my adopted family lives
and this is the harp that I am learning to play. That little white canister; that
is the amount of trash I generate in a month to two months. The blue canister
is dog food and the red canister are the little red wood chips that power my Biolite camp stove. This ficus tree is 17 years old. The mint
is new. Every person should have aloe to have aloe available for any sort of
stovetop burns or if overexposure to Sun. The first thing people said to me was,
“where you going to park it?” and I was this clueless save who said, “oh, that’ll
be no problem. I know some campgrounds down along the coast where you can camp for 500 bucks a month, 600 bucks a month”. During the off-season…pretty much after
March April it goes right back up. But then when I realized as a professor I
need to have a routine every fall semester, every spring semester, in the
summer session, I needed an anchor. It took me a year to find a campground
consortium where I can stay in these campgrounds for free based on a
membership for three weeks at a time and then a girlfriend calls it renewing my
visa but if I want to stay in the same campground I need to go out for a week
and then come back in again. So then the challenge became okay where do I go for that week and because of the place where I am there are always
Fairgrounds there are state park campgrounds within say about 20 mile
radius of five or six different places where I can be or I can simply put The
Champion in storage and go stay with some friends. Once I got over that
initial hump of where can I be geographically so that I can be
geographically stable and do my professional work, everything became so
much easier. Every semester my students do group projects that make a difference
in the world and this semester my students are helping me to become carbon neutral. We have set it up so that the students came to my tiny home to my bus
they audited my entire life they came up with a range of figures of how many tons
of carbon I am personally contributing to the atmosphere which is always
embarrassing but as human beings we are going to contribute carbon. Once we
crunched the numbers and figured out literally how many tea trees how many
certain palm plants how much bamboo how much grass needs to be planted
I will then get on the phone with my tato family and say, “okay, here you go”, and I will send the money over. I really like the idea that becoming carbon neutral I
am now absolutely practicing what I preach. If I’m going to teach about
climate change and how we humans are effecting climate change then I sure
better be carbon neutral and I get to support my extended family in planting
trees that will help build their homes that will provide bamboo for their
baskets. Because of my background of having an
adopted tribe as a family in Indonesia one of the phrases these folks have
taught me is the phrase ‘All Our Relations’. Initially I thought they meant
everyone we’re related to as our family or perhaps being relating to all humans,
but now I understand that it means all living beings and so that phrase ‘All Our
Relations’, which is something that you say as part of a ceremony or ritual or
prayer means that you are understanding that we have a relationship with all
living beings on the planet whether it is microscopic sulfur breathing bacteria
at the bottom of the ocean or it is a Jaguar or a coyote or the forest or the
waterway or the mountains. These are all our relations and so that is my family that’s who I care about.