Life on the Bus
EEI dorm rooms can be tents or the great outdoors, and classrooms range from city streets, to wilderness trails, from National Parks to industrial sites, from backyards to farms to corporate boardrooms to Native American reserves.
Food planning, preparation, and consuming build community and are an important aspect of the curriculum. We explore agriculture’s environmental footprint and consider steps for creating a sustainable food future, acknowledging the impact of daily choices on the planet.
We travel by bus, boat, or on foot and make our own music. Communication technology is largely set aside to make space for human voices and the sounds of the wild.
Each day EEI participants are engaged with exploring ecological leadership and sustainability education in pursuit of a more just and ecologically resilient world. Learning is interdisciplinary, holistic, experiential, and self-directed.
Learning is often spontaneous – ranging from traditional sources such as reading from our 400+ book on-bus library, conversations with local experts, and on-going immersion in and engagement with the natural world.
Through relationships with regionally based writers, scientists, activists, educators, community leaders, ordinary citizens, the natural world, and each other, we experience first-hand the local faces of complex issues and critically and creatively examine how to translate knowledge into personal responsibility and action.
7:00 AM // WAKE UP!
Rise and shine! Brush teeth, running or yoga, clean up and get dressed for day’s activities, eat breakfast at the bus, prepare for day by packing up sleeping bag and tent (if moving).
8:00 AM // MORNING CIRCLE
Peer led activity and announcements with an introduction to the day’s experiences and locality we’ll be exploring.
9:00 AM // GROUNDING IN ACADEMICS
Meet in faculty advisee groups to plan educational activities for the whole group and check in on individual goals for our natural history and ecology courses.
10:00 AM // PARTICIPANT-LED PROJECTS
Two students share information to prepare us to meet with an author who writes about climate change. We have all read an article by her and some of us have read her entire book. We generate questions and excitement for when we meet with her later in the day.
12:00 PM // LUNCH & PROCESSING EXPERIENCES
Lunch is made by several community members, while others share a picnic table to journal about yesterday’s visit to a mountaintop removal site. Seeing this firsthand and meeting people directly impacted has hit some of us pretty hard. We talk as we share tomato, basil and mozzarella sandwiches, talking about yesterday’s experiences. During lunch clean-up we have time to reflect on learning goals.
1:00 PM // RESOURCE EXPERIENCE WITH LOCAL AUTHOR
We pile into the bus and a faculty person drives us to the small town where we meet with the author at the office of a local environmental organization. Some of the inspiring activists who work there will be joining us later for dinner and discussion at our camp. A lively discussion ensues about climate change, the writing process, hope and despair, what inspires her to keep working on these issues, and why we all care.
4:30 PM // TRAVEL & DOWN TIME
We return to the bus for the 40-minute ride down backroads to the campground where we are staying. Some of us nap. Some stare out the window at the unfamiliar landscape. Others can’t stop talking about writing and climate change and, of course, politics. Those not preparing dinner get to take advantage of the hour and a half to organize belongings or get a chunk of a book read.
6:00 PM // DINNER & CONVIVIALITY WITH LOCAL ACTIVISTS
Prepared as much as possible with local, organic ingredients shopped for by the current cook crew, our chefs introduce us to the meal and another student makes space for guests and “residents” to introduce themselves.
8:30 PM // OPTIONAL NIGHT HIKE & STAR GAZING
A small group takes a trail to an overlook and searches out constellations we have identified would be in the sky here at this time of year, referring to a star chart with a shielded headlamp.
9:30 PM // WINDING DOWN
All back together, half the community starts moving toward their tents via the washrooms while the rest of us snuggle into bus seats with our books and journals, and others listen to stories shared by a few students and a faculty member at the back of the bus.
10:50 PM // LIGHTS OUT ON THE BUS
Lingerers finally tear themselves away from the stories and social warmth of the bus and head off with their headlights to sleeping bags for another night of sleep in the great outdoors.
11:00 PM // MOON’S UP!