Transcript: Podship Earth Episode 005: RESILIENCY  

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: This is Jared Blumenfeld. Welcome to Podship Earth.

 

Today's show is about two very different sides of resiliency. Resiliency is the single most important trait that will help us navigate the fast approaching threat to our civilization. This week we'll go to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to talk with ROCHELLE TILOUSI from the Havasupai environmental protection agency, and we'll go to the streets of Berkeley, California to hear from Sarah Schubert and Eli Whipple about becoming urban van dwellers. By the time of the European invasions, indigenous peoples had occupied and shaped every part of the Americas and were sustaining their population by adapting to specific natural environments. Native populations in the Americas were reduced from a hundred million to 10 million following the early onset of colonization. By the end of the 1800’s, there were fewer than 240,000 indigenous people remaining in what is now the United States. Today there are 2.1 million native people belonging to 566 federally recognized tribes, which is a long way from being on the brink of extinction 120 years ago.

 

This is a story of recovery. Today's indigenous nations that communities formed by their resistance to colonialism throughout which they've carried on their practices, traditions and histories. This resiliency is key to their survival. In fact, resilience is required by anyone who wishes to survive.  Today, Indian communities, are nations within a nation. Without a doubt, the rise of American Indian tribal nations has not been easy. Many native communities continue to be burdened by extremely high levels of poverty, unemployment, and chronic health challenges. But against all this adversity, Indians have learned to move forward to believe and weave a dream of old and new. This is the tenacity of the indigenous spirit. I arrived at the Havasupai nation on foot after taking eight miles into the Grand Canyon. As you know, I love hiking. It was this journey in particular that motivated me to do the Pacific Crest Trail.  The hike down to Havasupai is spectacular. It starts with switchbacks from which you can see for 100 miles.  The orange rocks cascade down into a riverbed that weaves through the Havasupai village. I remember breathing in the morning air, walking along thinking, this is my life and I'm living it. I smiled not even knowing where that thought came from, but feeling that for the first time in a long time I knew who I was.

 

As you approach Havasupai, you first hear, then glimpse, the rushing iridescent turquoise water. The 700 members of the community all speak Havasupai.

Thousands of tourists flock to Havasupai each year to see some of the world's most spectacular waterfalls.  As you walk down to the Colorado River, the intensity of the beauty is overwhelming. It really does feel like heaven on earth. Permits are required and are very restricted. You can't hike down without one, so give yourself at least six months of lead time. I recently got to share this adventure with my family who were experiencing Havasupai for the first time during the trip. I got to catch up with Rochelle Tilousi, who's the director of the Havasupai Environmental Protection Agency.

Hi Rochelle, welcome to Podship Earth.

 

ROCHELLE TILOUSI:  Hey, thank you.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: For people who don't know anything about Havasupai, tell us a little bit about where we are and what it means to you.

 

ROCHELLE TILOUSI: Havasupai reservation is located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world and it's very remote. We only have a small general store, a cafeteria, and the only way to get here is by horseback, eight miles down the trail walking, or a five-minute helicopter ride. When I looked at the Grand Canyon, I was like, oh my God, this is my home. This is where I live and every day I look at the canyon and it's different. It's like a whole new painting you see every day with the colors and the sunset and the sunrises.  During the summers, I'd spend my summers swimming in the creek all day every day. It was just so wonderful in the winter. Wow. I'd be in school, but I'd still want to go swimming.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How long have you lived in Havasupai?

 

ROCHELLE TILOUSI: I've lived here for 33 years, my whole life.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, one of the things that I noticed when I was sitting outside the general store is how many people speak Havasupai still? And tell us a little bit, do you speak Havasupai? It seems such an important part of the tradition.

 

ROCHELLE TILOUSI: Yes, I do speak Havasupai. Havasupai was the first language that I spoke. Then, once I got into Headstart, that's when they started teaching us the English language.  At home, we speak our language.  Nowadays, I teach my six-year old daughter how to speak Havasupai too. Yeah. So I try to keep that going.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, tell us a little bit about what it means to be native in 2018.

 

ROCHELLE TILOUSI: It feels great. I actually am proud that I am Havasupai. I'm Native American.  I'm very proud that our tribe is continuing our cultures and our traditions. We're trying to still keep that going within our own community. Teaching the younger kids that you don't have to be ashamed to be Native American.  

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How do you do with your six-year old daughter when she's watching TV and she doesn't see good images or any images of Native Americans. How do you help her feel strong and proud?

 

ROCHELLE TILOUSI: We help her feel strong and proud by also showing her Native American books, telling her that we are Havasupai, that we are different from the outside world. She does see the difference and know the difference because the teachers, some of them aren't Native American as well and they come from different nationalities. So, she's noticing that and she asks why are they different, why am I different from them? How come I speak Havasupai and they don't understand when I'm speaking Havasupai. So, my fiancee and I, we try to explain to her that being Native American is very special, you know? We tried to explain to her about what had happened to the Native American people in the past, but sometimes on TV she sees it and she's like, how come they're treating the Native Americans bad? Sometimes, we do watch Native American movies. But, we tried to explain to her that was in the past. We try not to introduce her to hatred towards other nationalities as well. And, we're keeping the tradition alive with her because my dad is a traditionalist, so he's one of Havasupai’s tribal members who still knows our songs, our stories, the history behind how we came to be here inside the canyon. So, she's learning a lot from my father. My sister and I both still dance our traditional dances. So, we're teaching our children how to talk Supai, how to sing the songs, how to know where we came from, our background. I feel very fortunate to have my dad in my life and my dad being my dad.

                         

JARED BLUMENFELD: What role does the environment play for the Havasupai people?

 

ROCHELLE TILOUSI: Well, from the stories that my dad does tell us about how we came to be here in the canyon; it's very important to us. It's very sacred because this is our homeland. And at one point before, before Supai became Supai, the story is that the canyon would close, like it would open and then close and you could see from above that there was a small village in here with trees, with the water going through it. But it was so beautiful that no man could come in, no animal could come in that it was like the canyon was protecting SuPi, so it would close, it would open, it would close, it would open. And in the story, there are two twin warriors who came to be from San Francisco Peaks Still water and the sun. So, we are called the Havasupai, which also means Havasu, which is blue-green to the water. You know, blue-green water is turquoise. So, that's how the boys came to be, and I know that they went to California and cut down red wood. They cut that down and they brought it here because they tried to figure out how they could leave the canyon open so that they could come in.  They also saw this special tree that you could use to make bows and arrows. And they wanted those trees so that they could make bow and arrows, so they could hunt. So, they brought down that tree and they threw it when it opened inside the canyon. And once it started to close, the redwood kept it from closing. So, my dad tells me on a very special day during a certain time of the year in the winter, that if you look closely enough, you can see part of the redwood tree in the canyons still holding it open.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Do you feel connected to the land?

 

ROCHELLE TILOUSI: Traditionally, when we have our children, we're also supposed to keep everything that is born with that child, including the umbilical cord. And so, once that child turns a year old, the father of the child will make a hike up to a certain part of the canyon where he gathers this red, very fine powder of rock. And they grind it into fine powder and then they mix it with the water along with the umbilical cord. And we circle it around the infant when they turn one, first starting to take their first steps. And once we circle it around the child, that means this child is connected to the Canyon for the rest of its life. No matter where that child ends up, this will always be home. You know, it's always going to be a part of the Kenyon. So I was initiated when I turned one as well. So my dad says, I'm always going to be a part of this canyon no matter what. It doesn't matter where I end up. This'll always be my home.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, living here, I mean you, you have to think about everything differently. The name of the show is Podship Earth and Havasupai is like Podship Earth. It's its own little community that isn't attached by a road. Very few communities in our country that are like that. So this acts like its own little planet. You need to look after the water, you need to look after the land and the air, and that's your job. That's a big job. Rachelle, what do you, what do you do day to day? What are the things, how do you work with community members?

 

ROCHELLE TILOUSI: Trying to keep our home looking nice, looking clean. We do have the school that takes a big part in wanting to learn how to keep Supai clean. Then we tell the community it's for the children, you know? So, some parents do get involved too and it's wonderful when we can get at least about 50 people involved to help with cleanups.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Is there a special significance that water has for the tribe and for your work?

 

ROCHELLE TILOUSI: Like I said in one of the creation stories, the Havasupai people came to be through a drop of spring water and the sunshine coming into the woman who gave birth to the Havasupai people. So, it does mean a lot to us. The water is very sacred to our tribe. And for the environmental protection department, we just want to keep it safe, make sure that little children are still able to swim in it during the summer vacations, visitors are able to come and enjoy the creek, drinking the natural spring water that comes through at the camp grounds. We try to keep that safe and drinkable.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, one other thing, my daughter and I when we walked in, we picked up all the trash that tourists dropped. We got about 75 bottles and cans. This is a sacred place. Don't be throwing your trash. I couldn't believe it. I was really offended if they're coming here to hike, they need to, what do they need to do?

 

ROCHELLE TILOUSI: Respect our home.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: We've been speaking to Rochelle Tilousi. Thank you so much for your time and work. You're amazing. Thank you.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD Sponsor: Thank you for listening and now a word from this week's sponsor, Design Crowd

 

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JARED BLUMENFELD: Growing up in England, there were three American TV programs we watched: Happy Days, Starsky and Hutch and Scooby Doo. All my earliest insights into American culture derived from these classic shows.  Most enduring of all has been my love of Scooby's van, the Mystery Machine. So, when Brenna suggested that we meet up with friends of hers that are living the hashtag “van life,” I simply couldn't resist.  As you'll hear from Sarah and Eli, they're having an urban camping adventure every day while saving money and maybe even saving the planet. Brenna, welcome back to the show.

 

BRENNA: Thanks for having me.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, we are in a sprinter van in a secret location in Berkeley. We're here with two people that moved into their vans at different times. We'll find out when. Eli, welcome.

 

ELI: Hello.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And Sarah.

 

SARAH: Hi. How's it going?

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Good.  How long have you been living in your vehicles?

ELI:  I moved into my truck probably about five going on six years ago.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What was the impetus? What led you to think wanted to live in a truck?

 

ELI: I made a bunch of big life decisions all at once. I dropped out of college, I broke up with my long-term partner and also was having to leave the house that I was in anyway, and so, all those things combined, and I wanted to do things a little differently than I had been because it wasn’t working for me.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And what about you Sarah?

 

SARAH: So, my one-year anniversary was about two weeks ago.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, what is the first year been like?

 

SARAH: I mean, it's a big learning process for sure. One of the great and awful things about living in a van is that it is a project that never ends. It's really interesting to experiment with learning how to build stuff and new making methods on your house. Awhile after I had moved into my van, I installed the fan on the roof, and one of my favorite moments ever was balancing precariously on my roof with an angle grinder that I never used before. Uh, learning how to cut

holes in my house.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, this is our first anniversary of you being in the van. Do you imagine a year from now you'll still be living in a van?

 

ELI: If I stay in the Bay area, then yeah, I definitely see myself in a van for the foreseeable future.

JARED BLUMENFELD: This looks like a pretty new sprinter van.

 

ELI: Yeah, it's a 2016.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, tell us about the economics of how you decided to buy it.

 

ELI: So as far as vehicle living platforms go, the sprinters are my absolute favorite. Um, so a lot of reasons for that. They get good gas mileage. I'm getting 20 plus miles per gallon and with a big rig like this, it's good. They are generally reliable, but they are expensive, right. Like, so this is a $40,000 van new.  Even brand new, the sprinter is cheaper than rent around here. I mean, you, if you get a terrible interest rate and you have no down payments it’s $750 a month for this van.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And Eli, what do people think of you when you do tell people? Does it come up in conversation? How do you get into, “I live in a van,” like does it come up with dates? “Do you want to come back to my van?”

 

ELI: Um, yeah. So, when I first moved into my truck, it was in Asheville, North Carolina, when I first moved into a vehicle and there, it's not a lot of people are doing it. I mean the weather's not great, like it's really cold. And the police will totally harass you. There's not a whole a great places to park. And since there was nobody around me doing it, I felt pretty weird about it. And so, at first I was pretty averse to telling people. I've feared some sort of judgment from them that maybe they would get some false impression of me because I did it out of choice financially.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What kind of reactions have you gotten?

                                          

ELI: I was surprised everyone was kind of into it like, oh, this is like an awesome thing you've got going on. Like, I love this rig. Honestly, most people were pretty enthusiastic.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What about you, Sarah? What about your parents?

 

SARAH: I haven't actually told my parents yet.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Okay, well parents, welcome. Coming out on Podship Earth. I appreciate that SARAH.

 

SARAH: I'm going to send them the link.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Okay, great. Um, what do you want your parents to know?

 

SARAH: When I moved into my van, I had a long-term partner who was very fundamentally opposed to it. Uh, he was really upset that I was doing this because he felt like I needed help and I wasn't letting him rescue me, but I didn't tell my parents because I didn't want them thinking that I needed to be rescued, that I was in trouble because I'm not, I'm not in trouble. Uh, so I, I thoroughly intend to have that conversation with my parents. I intended to have it last time I saw them in person because it's a nicer conversation in person.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Tell us about the non-financial reasons that kind of tipped you over the edge to living in the van.

 

SARAH: People in the bay complain about two things. They complain about the cost of rent and the commute. Van life does a pretty good job of getting rid of both of those. That's really nice. My commute has been spectacular ever since. Um, it's really nice to be able to, you know, go out to events and just crash in your van right after. Not have to find a way to get home that’s safe. There's a lot to be said for being able to take it out on a road trip and just like, just fucking go.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What kind of Van. Do you have Sarah?

 

SARAH: I've been in 1986 Vannigan. It's like a very small sprinter bed. It's a, it's like an old passenger van.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: We just passed a whole group of RVs. Is that a different community of people, the RV people versus the truck and Van People?

 

SARAH: I wouldn't say it's a different community, but they're a hell of a lot less subtle. I wouldn't want to. I wouldn't want to live in an RV here.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Why not?

 

SARAH: I like, I like at least thinking that I have blend in. That people don't know that I am, that there's likely someone in that, in that vehicle right now sleeping at night.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: See, I have never met anyone who thought about moving into a van. So that's why I'm kind of intrigued. Brenna, she was in my house and she was like, I know three people who live in their vans or trucks.

 

BRENNA: Make that five.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Five. Yeah.

 

BRENNA: Um, yes, I know five people at least who have chosen to live in their vehicles for non-financial reasons.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Two of them here.

 

BRENNA: Yes, two of them here, the place I used to work.

JARED BLUMENFELD: Which is an environmental organization.

 

BRENNA: Yes, indeed. A renewable energy company. A lot of people chose to live in their vehicles.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I guess the point that I'm making is when I tell people I want to do an episode on people living in their van, but a lot of people are like “what the fuck's that got to do with the environment, “but all the people that you know happened to be environmentalist. And one of the things that Sarah already pointed out is you don't need to commute. So as young environmentalist you might not be able to do the work you're doing and live in the Bay area if

it wasn't for a van…

 

SARAH: I mean there are thousands of people who live here who have minimum wage jobs working at the cafes, at Google. We really are developing that class system where the service workers work largely out of vans. I know that there's a street in Google, like in the main google campus, the RV street where tons of Google employees, programmers, cooks and guys who drive the buses, they all live there. Even above minimum wage in South Bay is below the poverty line essentially.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Yeah, that makes sense. I have friends who live in San Francisco who work at Apple and Google and Facebook and the thing that they disliked the most is the commute. So you guys have come out with a solution, a zero commute. You can live very close to where you work.

 

SARAH: I imagine it also does feel really hard to justify your environmental job, the company that you go to everyday if you spend two hours stall, like in an idling car on your way there.

 

ELI: It turned out that my carbon footprint was one fourth that of the average American with me being a completely irresponsible vehicle dweller.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Footprint would seem minimal.

 

ELI: Very small.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So how do you get, how do you get power? Both of you.  

 

SARAH: You can't plug your car into something when you park. It's makes a whole lot of sense to install solar panels on your roof, logistically and financially.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And how so? It was probably like 20 square feet of roof space. So how, how might, what does that power, what do you use the power for and how much power do you need?

 

SARAH: Yeah, I know at least two other people who are, who are doing the full a top of the van coverage.  He's able to power a heater, he has this really intense built in sound system, a fan lights, a bunch of other things. Uh, everything but the AC.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What about eating? Do you eat in here?

 

ELI: Yeah, I mean sometimes I exist a lot in the public sphere so you'll find me often at whole foods at that meeting from the hot bar or something that are in a cafe or at work.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What about you Sarah?

 

SARAH: I have a little propane stove that I use mostly for making coffee in the morning because it's really nice to get up in the morning and like, I don't know, not immediately go to a cafe or something just for your cup of coffee, and your ocean front property if you want to. If you get a spot by the bay or something.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Which is another plus, right? You get to be in some pretty beautiful places that most people don't have where we are right now on the bay. Yeah. No one lives here that it's stunning.

 

SARAH: You can get the, some of the most expensive possible property in anywhere San Francisco or East Bay or anything like that for free. It's pretty great. As long as you watch out for the street sweepers.

 

BRENNA: I'm curious about your connection with your environment - built environment, natural environment, other people, animals living in your vehicle. I mean, it's different to be in a car, you're a little closer to everything around you, then you are in a house, you're more separated.

 

ELI: I hear less human stuff going on in my vehicle. Um, I'm in much more control where I sleep at night. And so when you have your noisy neighbors, you always have your noisy neighbors. When you have your obnoxious housemates, you're always listening to them and it's always going on. Um, and I mean sometimes there is a thinner veil between myself and the public sphere being in a vehicle depending on where you park, but other times it's absolutely very isolating in a nice way.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And Sarah, no. Do you feel comfortable? Would you recommend it for other women? Is it a mainly male community?

 

SARAH: Yeah, it's, it's interesting to think of it as a community. I have the longer I've been in the bay, met more and more people who, uh, who live out of the choose to live out of their vehicles and who like associate themselves together because of it. Um, but like I, I haven't really interacted much with a community of van dwellers.

 

ELI: And I imagine that there are van dwelling communities. It's just for, I think for myself and the people that I know that live in vehicles that isn't the basis of which we know other people. That's not what we share in common. You should go check out the people that are living in the strip over here because they are parked next to each other every day for months on end. I imagine they know each other and they have a sort of neighborly relationship. Yeah.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Well, you talked about your last partner who was vehemently against you living in the van. So when you have future partners, is that a first question that you would ask someone? I just want to let you know, I live in a van. I hope you're going to be chill with that.

 

SARAH: Yeah. Well there was definitely like a, a few months ago I went out with somebody who is, who didn't already know me., I felt weirdly like I had to apologize for a bunch of things at the beginning of the date. I was like, just so you know, I’m getting this out there, I'm vegetarian, I live in a van. Like I went home and thought about it and was like, that was dumb. I'm not apologizing for any of those things anymore. Um, but yeah, it does come up reasonably quickly when I know people just because it has a sizable impact on my daily life.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: How common do you think it is? Is this, is it growing? Is it.

 

ELI: Well, I would say that, um, you've got some different financial classes in the bay area. You've got the tent dwellers, which I would maybe say is like the lower class, if you will. And then the middleclass or all the vehicle dwellers. And then of course you've got your house people, who I'd say are upper middle, upper class.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: The one percenters.

 

ELI: And I do think it's growing.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Because the, the, the van is the new middle class house –

 

ELI: In the bay. Yeah.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: When I think of something going really wrong, like the shit hitting the fan, I think I'd want to live in this van, right? As a survivalist instinct, whether it's an earthquake or a forest fire or a mudslide. These aren't things of our imagination, they all happened in the last year in California. You can drive away from those, sadly forest fires for instance. You're not, you're, you're not stuck in a place, being mobile is actually a big advantage.

 

ELI: I agree. I feel like there's a resiliency in that freedom.

 

SARAH: We have more security than a lot of the people that like I'm worried are moving into their vehicles very much not from a place of choice, like the, the fact that San Francisco and the rest of the bay area is definitely getting more and more, uh, like accepting of van dwelling. I am both thrilled and really upset about it because I'm afraid that if we normalize this too much, it really will be middle class people are forced to live this type of lifestyle, which works really well for me, but does not work well for a lot of people.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Right. So that's a really important point there that you are raising, which is the one of choice. This is a choice for both of you, for people who for economic reasons, want to live in a house, but feel forced to live in their van. It's a very different psychological impact.

 

ELI: Yeah. Culturally we all think that we need to live in houses. I mean, it's illegal to do what I'm doing. You're not allowed to sleep in your vehicle on public land, sleeping in your vehicle on the street is illegal. Um, and so the choice presented is living in a house and so I think that there are also people who are living in houses that are less happy for it.

 

BRENNA: And what about the age group of people you see moving into their vans? Is it varied?

 

ELI: I don't see a whole lot of older people coming out of their vans in the morning. But um, I'd say it's a lot of people in their mid-twenties to early thirties.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: When you say I don’t see a lot of older people coming out of the van in the morning, does that mean you do see a lot of younger people coming out of the vans in the morning?

 

ELI: Uh, yeah.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And how does that manifest itself? I've never seen anyone come out of that van.

 

SARAH: It's really obvious when you know what you're looking for. It's like, I'd never heard of a sprinter van until I hung out in the bay and then I saw them everywhere. It's really weird for commercial vehicle to be that popular in residential areas. You know what's going on.

 

ELI: If you go very far out of the bay, you will get harassed by police. There are towns that you have to accept that they're going to come knocking and you know, you don't answer of course because you don't have to and you shouldn't, but they will actually bug you in some places.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Is it different search and seizure rules for a house and there would be a van, like when you said the police come knocking, do they get to say, oh, your tail light is broken so we're going to look in your vehicle?

 

ELI: No, it's very similar. Um, the police are kind of like vampires, you know, if you invite them in, it's all over. Uh, so it's good to not answer. You don't have to let them in. They might threaten to tow you, but actually the tow company can't tow with yourself in the vehicle, they can’t force your locks things open, Including your van.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: What about the toilet as far as bathroom?

 

ELI:  Like I choose to be pretty minimalistic about that. Got a gender agnostic urinal that allows that. Mine’s set up that if it's like an emergency number two situation, if you need that, I've had that problem before where your asshole is going to explode and there's nothing you can do about it.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Right.

 

ELI: It's really embarrassing.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Part of living.

 

ELI: It’s really embarrassing to shit on the sidewalk.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: You got a vindaloo, you need to go to the loo.

 

ELI: But a lot of the RVS have like toilet type toilets and you can have a whole black water and gray water system, um, and you can set those things up. Usually they're mounted to the bottom of the vehicle or out of the way.

 

BRENNA: I want to know about some other lifestyle choices.

 

ELI: A lot of people want to be doing something that's good for the world and they have to make a concession because they need housing and housing security, like living in a van. Like it gives you enormous freedom to make those sort of choices.

 

SARAH: Some of my friends particularly who live in Seattle have moved into boats as well. It's really popular these days has a similar option. They did it for the exact same reasons. Like my, one of my friends is trying to join an environmental company up in Seattle and couldn't afford it. And her student debt. So she moved into a boat with her boyfriend.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: And what's the number one reason that people move out of their van?

SARAH: I haven't actually met anyone who's moved out yet. Yeah. So far. I only know people who have upgraded from cars to vans.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Do you have any questions for Brenna and I about what it's like to live in a house?

 

SARAH: It’s been so long.

 

ELI: So I started dating somebody and I'm in Massachusetts and I went to go visit them. I went to their house and I realized I hadn't been in a residential building for over six months for any reason whatsoever. I am generally completely disconnected from that world and I find it totally alien.

 

SARAH: I will. I'm house sitting this week. It feels like a luxury in the, uh, in the same way that like when you go on vacation it, it's super fun. But I look forward to going back to my van when I'm done.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So, Brenna, are you having heard this? So we, we were camping. We were out. It was a little rougher than this, right? It was a tent but not that much different. Does this appeal to you, like you're paying a lot of rent?

 

BRENNA: Yeah, this definitely appeals to me. I'm listening and taking notes here.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Like what would be the biggest impediment? Like when you hear this, like you're in a. How much are you paying now in rent?

 

BRENNA: 900, which is a great deal. This appeals to me. It's just, it's a big project so taking that on takes time. I think for me and my skill level and these are engineers and this is their favorite hobby. I have a question though about creature comforts, like are there certain things that you miss? Living here are. You've been here awhile so maybe you're completely used to it, but either of you?

 

SARAH: I really miss having a kitchen, I love cooking.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: So do you guys have a names for your vans?

 

ELI: We're currently holding this interview in what is known as the snuggle bus. It has been colloquially debbed the snuggle bus, partly because I optimized it for snuggling as a huge bed. I can fit three people for a comfortable night's sleep, which was very deliberate. Cool.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: Well thank you so much Snuggle bus and Eli and Sarah and Brenna for hosting this. This has been awesome. Thank you for doing it. It was very fun.

 

ELI: Yeah. My pleasure.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: I'm so grateful that this week we're able to explore two very different sides of resiliency with Rochelle, Eli, Sarah and Brenna. Thank you. One of the most significant environmental campaigns of the last decade was the fight against the Dakota access pipeline by the Standing Rock Sioux, which started back in 2016.  Here’s his tribal chair, Dave Archambault, explaining the struggle at the United Nations.

Dave Archambault: I am here because the oil companies are causing the deliberate destruction of our sacred places and burials. Dakota access pipeline wants to build an oil pipeline under the river that is the source of our nation's drinking water. This pipeline threatens our communities, the river and the earth.

 

JARED BLUMENFELD: This battle brought together indigenous tribal members and their allies from across the nation and the globe. The standing rock campaign unified American Indians by bringing attention to the sacredness of the earth. Trump, in one of his first anti-environmental actions, intervened to make sure that the pipeline was built, and the first oil was delivered back in May 2017. Since then, a court found that the projects’ environmental review was, no surprises, deficient because the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights and environmental justice were not adequately covered. The judge ordered a new risk report be completed, but unfortunately he didn't shut down the pipeline. You can help this and other native environmental campaigns by checking out the indigenous environmental network IENearth.org.

 

What I took away from talking with Rochelle was her sense of belonging, the Havasupai People's connection to the land and water is unbreakable.

It's a bond that exists in all of us that we can help strengthen every time we engage with nature, from hugging a tree in a local park to swimming under the water falls on the Havasupai nation. My hike in the wilderness was the first time in my life that I felt that I truly belonged. Eli and Sarah represent a growing trend of people who love city life, want to work for nonprofit, but can't afford insane rents. Although it goes without saying, I'm going to say anyway, Van Life is not for everyone. It helps if you know how to fix an engine, can wire a solar panel, and like living in very, very small spaces. I put a guide to van life on this episode's webpage. You should check it out. In strict ecological terms, resiliency is the ability to respond to a threat and recover quickly.

 

In next week's show, I'll be talking to Lori Barekman, Lauren Martin and her uncle Kenny, all survivors of the Sonoma wildfires that claimed the lives of 42 people, destroyed more than 6,000 homes, and caused billions of dollars in damage, about their experience of the fires and what it feels like to be a climate refugee. Out of these ashes, an amazing story of human and natural resiliency emerged. Thank you so much for being part of the Podship Earth journey from the entire Podship Earth crew, editor Rob Spate, producer Nancy Ferranti, executive producer David Kahn, and me, Jared Blumenfeld. Have an awesome week.