The Journey Begins

by Benji Elson

I have the immense honor and pleasure of writing the first blog post from the road of this 2014 Teva Topsy Turvy Shmita Bus Tour! To be the first to try to articulate the experiences of this amazing group of talented passionate educators, and the incredible things that we have seen and done thus far is a huge honor. Because we are so awesome and having such amazing experiences! Just to be a part of this team is such a huge honor.

Benji + eli
Here’s me and Eli on the bus, I’m on the left.

So…after months of waiting and preparing we finally all met for the first time in Cheesman Park in Denver, CO. Right from the start I could sense that we were a group of highly talented people who each had his or her own strengths which were going to compliment the other extremely well.

After introducing ourselves to each other and playing some silly “icebreaker”/movement activities to get to know each other a bit the team got straight to work gutting and cleaning the bus, arranging all our material possessions into the hidden storage compartments throughout the bus and working to get the bus in top shape after its two year slumber party in Denver. (Thanks for taking such great care of her, Jonathan and Elizabeth Dubinsky!) We waterproofed the roof, built a new shelving unit to store our food, and installed a contraption to mount our drum to the wall. We then started brainstorming and finalizing the remaining components of our curriculum and programs. It was a very fun and successful day.

We also began to realize just how true it was that having the bus was “cheating”. One after another countless people walking or driving through the park came over to the bus, as if drawn by some magical force field, to ask us “Who and what the heck we were!” Cars driving passed slowed down, people took out their phone-cameras, fathers flipped their kids upside down to look at the bus “right side up” (see photo below of kids doing it on their own), old hippies came to reminisce about their journeys of yonder and share with us, young hippies told us how “rad” we were. We were automatically the center of attention in the entire park- all due to our crazy traveling art instillation.

upside down to see bus right side up

All in all we were super prepared for our launch and first program at the Denver Hazon Food Festival at the Denver JCC this past Sunday. We led a very successful program for about 40 children at the festival.  The rest of the day we opened the bus and made her available for anyone to come and check us, and our noble mare, out. And take advantage of the opportunity they did! Over 350 people came through the bus that first Sunday! Each with their questions, excitements, blessings, gratitude and well wishes. It was an amazing way to be launched onto our tour and we still feel the energy that each person gave us.

It’s been a really fun and exciting start to our journey and mission and we can’t wait for the rest of it. In fact we can’t wait for each and every day of it! Each day is sure to provide us with new and exciting experiences that none of us have ever had before. I mean there are 5 of us living on an upside down school bus! What more can I say?!

I hope you continue to follow us and discover together with us where our 8-wheeled spaceship takes us next and what she has in store for us. Onward and upward! To infinity and beyond! Live long and prosper! Lichaim! Shmita 2014/5575!

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