Poll: Cultural Reasons For Traveling

We all travel for different reasons. I love to just walk around new places and explore, stopping in to galleries and museums as I see them, trying out the menus at local eateries and cafes, and investigating history at archaeological sites.

If you are a reader of this site, you probably do too.

Take the poll – choose as many answers as fit your style!

What are the cultural reasons for your travels?

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Add to the discussion in the comments area below. The reasons for traveling are usually not cut and dry – tell us about what you like to do when you are out and about!

Poll: How To Publish Press Releases?

One of the main goals of artist-at-large.com is to inform travelers of exhibitions, performances, and cultural events that will be happening at their destination. I go through phases of publishing the press releases that I receive from galleries, museums, festivals, etc. I usually publish only the meat of the release in the content, and then separate out the locations, dates, and time.

As someone who has written press releases in the past for other’s projects, my understanding is that the press release is just a release of information, for a publication to use as they wish – reference for an article, or as a complete post in and of itself. I have never been emotionally attached to the press releases that I write. I always wrote them to be used by whoever wanted to use them.

So that’s how I felt about the press releases that I received. Use them. The galleries, museums, festivals, etc. will be happy for the coverage.

Until I was accused of plagiarism.

So instead of sorting through the press releases and picking out the troublemakers, I decided not to publish them at all and give the galleries, museums, artists, festivals, etc. their own place to publish their own announcements. But only a few have taken me up on that offer.

So here is the poll.

Given that I only publish the meat of the release – I cut the first and last paragraphs – and I do the translations on the foreign language ones that I know – and sometimes I will edit into plain English from the ArtSpeak – here are my poll choices:

What should I do with Press Releases?

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Please add your comments below. Seriously. I am very confused about how to use press release announcements.

Poll: Field Trips

I’ve been thinking, for a long time actually, of doing simple walking “tours” of certain neighborhoods in San Francisco with the focus being on sketchbooks and photography.

One of the neighborhoods I’m thinking of is Chinatown because it is so full of energy and color, but also North Beach and the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market. We’d meet at a cafe and then wander around for a couple of hours, working in our journals or taking photos, and then go to a restaurant or cafe for lunch and a sharing of our images and findings.

So here are my questions:

Would you be interested in a sketchbook/photography walk in San Francisco?

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What is your creative interest?

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Which day/s of the week would appeal you? (Pick as many as you like.)

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I am thinking of doing this as a morning to lunch walk. Would you be interested in evening walks?

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How much is too much? I am considering a donation range + lunch (pay for own lunch). Group would be limited to 10 persons.

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Let me know what you think, and anything else can be added in the comments!

Starting Out With The Vanlife: The Build Out

The Escape Pod
The Escape Pod

Thirty-five off and mostly on years of camping and living the vanlife is no joke. I never really thought about how long it has been for me living in my pods until I noticed that on twitter and youtube the vanlifers seem to take pride in how long they’ve been able to sustain living in their nomadic vehicles.

It’s a thing now, this vanlife. This nomadic existence.

I had always thought that one of my missions in life would be to teach people how to live in vans, off the grid, once the shit hit the fan. Given the climate, the economy, our political situation, and the seemingly devolution of humanity, I didn’t think that this would be too far into the future. But it seems that the future is now.

As our climate changes, and the poles shift, and the next mini ice age comes upon us (no kidding, all of this is happening as you read this) the people who are well adjusted to a nomadic lifestyle are going to be the survivors. People are going to have to move with the seasons to find food, and sustainable weather.

I was thinking of actually doing in person workshops, but the youtubers beat me to it. There is no end of youtube videos about living the vanlife – build outs, day to day stuff. I even made a couple myself, but I haven’t really gotten into it. It didn’t seem like what I had to put in a video was all that important. I’ve got vanlife down. Nothing really changes. It’s difficult to know what people want to hear.

Plus, I’m better at writing.

It seemed most appropriate that I start off a vanlife series with considering a build out – the layout and materials used for turning an empty van into a home.

The first thing you want to consider is your simplicity or complexity factor. I’m all for keeping things as simple as possible, at least in the beginning. You can always add as you go along. I’ve done more than a couple of build outs and nothing is more depressing than when I realized the design in my head, the one that I built, doesn’t really work for the day-to-day living experience.

Start out with considering your bed positioning. In many vans this is almost a no brainer, given the width and height of most vans. But even so I made my first mistake with my first bed install. Considering the inside of a VW Bus tin top, I built a single bed platform that I installed along the wall, with my head right behind the driver’s seat. What was I thinking?

The obvious place to build a bed platform in a VW bus is over the engine compartment, with the head at the back hatch door. This means that because the engine compartment will be supporting half of the bed, you can use lighter plywood (I think I used 1/4 of an inch), and that you can put a single bed on it and use the extra platform as a base for shelving or storage. Or you can use all the platform space with a double bed.

The weight of wood that is used in a build out is important. Wood is heavy. But it is our standard material for building. The heavier the wood you use for your build out the lower your gas mileage will be. This is why tongue in groove knotty pine, while being really pretty, is probably not a good choice for flooring, walls, or ceiling. There is a reason why RVs use a lot of particle board in their buildouts – and while particle board is really cheap (in all meanings of the word) stuff, it is lighter in weight than solid wood. So think about what materials you can use for your build out that won’t add a lot of weight to the vehicle.

Instead of thinking “This Old House” remodel, think NASA.

When I think about getting a new cargo van and building it out into a more sustainable nomadic home, one that I can stand up in, I think about what alternative materials might work … Instead of plywood wall panels, why not masonite? It’s thin, strong, durable, can be painted, and if it’s just varnished, it’s a really nice chocolate brown color.

Do you really need permanent flooring? In my VW bus I have the original metal floor, with the original rubber mats (or at least they were the mats that came with the bus when I bought her in 1996), and on top of that, I have a bamboo mat that makes it seem like I have a bamboo floor – but it is removable should I ever want to switch it up. It also only goes between the cab area and the bed frame. Underneath the bed is just the rubber mat which is just fine for the plastic storage boxes to sit on.

One thing you really don’t want is carpeting. It traps dirt, moisture, and bugs.

I am based in California and never do snow travel so the lack of floor insulation is not a problem. If the floor and my feet are cold, I put on my slippers.

Considering environmental issues. I tend to like to be as environmental and eco-conscious as possible. Even though my house uses gas to run, I park and walk as much as possible. I try to use recycled materials or hand-me-downs if I’m building something. I go for quality over cheapness.

The order of building things is up to you. I put in my bed first, so that I could start living and traveling in the pod immediately and then added things as I went along. But I haven’t added much. I think it took me two years before I bought a cooler and a camp stove. My space is pretty much just a rolling bedroom.

Questions Questions

It’s late November and the temperatures are starting to drop under fifty degrees during the night. I’m starting to get this question from friends and strangers alike, “Are you warm enough in there?”

Here is my answer:

Let us know in the comments what you do to stay warm while living the vanlife!

Should I make more videos? What are you interested in hearing about?