Dude Making A Difference
"Cycling 4,700 miles across the USA, that's the easy part. So what's
the hard part? How about doing it off the grid?
Traveling via my own human power, without the assistance of
Eating locally produced, organic, and unpackaged foods, and
forgoing long-distance-shipped, conventional, packaged food unless it
is being wasted
Using water from natural sources and forgoing water from
municipal systems unless it is being wasted
Using electricity generated by portable alternative-energy
devices and forgoing electricity generated by fossil fuels
Creating near-zero trash or recycling and composting all of my
One of the book genres I usually avoid like the plague is
travel. Well off people going on expensive trips. Blah, blah, blah.
Nothing to do with me. In fact when the other book club members start
comparing notes on their pricey travels I tend to seek out the family
dog or cat for quality time. But when I saw Rob Greenfield's Dude
Making A Difference: Bamboo Bikes, Dumpster Dives, AND Other Extreme
Adventures Across America on a new books shelf in Orono Public Library
I had to at least leaf through it. When I saw how he started off the
volume with the above quote I was hooked, especially where he'd
promised dumpster diving.
Basically Greenfield did what very few of us would have the
stamina, directionality, desire, and/or freedom to do: he bicycled
across America from California to Vermont, living by a set of very
strict criteria he imposed on himself. Food was scavenged from
dumpsters (Actually that yielded him a far better diet than most
modest income people buy) when what was for sale didn't fit in with
his rules. Bathing and clothes washing often involved swimming in
natural bodies of water. Sometimes he crashed with friends. Other
times he pitched his tent in fairly unusual places.
Dude Making A Difference is Greenfield's shared travel journal.
He is very good at describing places and incidents. But he goes way
beyond that. He's a human on a mission: seeking ways to live more
sustainably and encourage and enable others to do the same. He openly
shares his reflections and emotions. This all makes for intensely
Greenfield knows that most of us will not be able to follow his
example. He encourages us to mindfully examine our life styles and
their implications for the emvironment and take whatever steps we can
even if they seem small. He assures us that, in doing good, we will
find more happiness.
So I recommend this book to anyone with a human heart beating in
On a personal note, before I became married (to a husband who would,
understandably, not want me to disappear for months) and a mother (to
kids who have gone from needing protection to protective and a
medically fragile cat) I would have gone for a journey like that in a
heartbeat. I remember one night when a friend and I were driving back
from a road trip we ended up at the Hudson River at midnight. He was
too tired to safely drive. (I've flunked the drivers eye exam in two
states). We just spread out our sleeping bags beside the river and
crashed under the stars. I woke up the next morning to find that a
couple of dozen people had joined us and someone had gone off to buy
doughnuts and coffee for the whole crowd.
I guess I can keep doing what I've been doing for ages: making
as small a carbon footprint as I can, continually learning new ways,
and teaching by example and writing the many people in my life and
those who read my opinion pieces in the Bangor Daily News.
I bet Greenfield would be pleased to know that one of the days I
was reading the book I was also volunteering at Orono Community garden
where we grow organic veggies and deliver them free to low income
senior citizens who also become our friends. As we went about our
harvesting and washing (using wash water to then hydrate crops) we
were visited by a goldfinch.
A great big shout out goes out to the dude.
Dude, there is a lot you would like to see in Penobscot County.
UMaine has a thriving sustainable ag department. We have farmers'
markets, CSAs, Food And Medicine, Cooperative Extension, MOFGA, Plant
A Row For The Hungry, and a whole lot more. I can offer a two star
fold out sleep sofa, home cooking, and the connections for all the
field trips you want to make. There is a section of the Bangor Daily
News that would interview you. I got them to visit community garden
last year. Probably you could speak at UMaine. And if you come in
the growing season you can see a spread like the Garden of Eden minus
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