Rubin and Blackmer spent the past several months traveling around the country in a grease-powered car in pursuit of these sustainable projects. “We’ve done about 30 plus interviews all across the United States,” said Blackmer. “We’ve met with people doing backyard gardening, to people who have been living off the grid, to people who’ve been doing sustainable clothing lines.”
Blackmer described a project they saw in Minneapolis called Harvest Moon Backyard Farmers. “What they do is they basically have these garden kits and they will come to your home where they’ll install a garden for you,” she said. “And they’ll allow you to take it over and have all the fresh produce for yourself, or they’ll come and they’ll take care of the garden for you, and you can still eat everything that comes out of it.” According to Blackmer, they also offer a “garden consultation service” where they coach you on installing and maintaining your garden.
According to Rubin, they also had a lot spontaneous visits and requests from projects. In Boston they met with three women involved in the Boston Food Swap. As Rubin explained, this is basically a food bartering program in which the women get together and talk about trading vegetables left over from their gardens among each other.
Blackmer went on to describe a tool sharing cooperative in Marbletown, NY called the Ulster County Tool Shed. This cooperative not only helps build community resilience, but also “helps people to not buy as many things that maybe they aren’t going to use more than once. Not everyone will use their hammer, or a shovel more than a few times a year,” she explained.
Rubin mentioned the warm and welcoming support they received from friends and people they met on the road. “We stayed with so many friends and met so many family and friends on the road,” she said. “It was great stepping into someone’s life for a few days, and seeing someone in their lifestyle…We had the best conversations around dinner tables.”
The duo also enjoyed getting to see some of the country’s best national parks. . “I think I can speak for both of us that we just felt so small,” said Rubin. “It’s almost intimidating to be around such large landscapes.” Blackmer said she “loved Glacier National Park,” and Rubin added, “we saw Yellowstone, and we went to the Badlands.”
“The car was sort of the third member of the Search for Convenient Resilience,” said Rubin. But they’re hopeful they will be reunited with Princess Frywalker once more. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to cross paths with it one more time, before either of us retires,” said Rubin. “It’s out there looking for us.”
For now they are back in Vermont and trying to refocus and plan their next steps. “We talked about bringing it back to Vermont a little bit and running a lot of interviews around Vermont,” said Rubin. “But we do have a lot of rebuilding to do. We lost some funding, with the car, and we’re trying to keep our heads high.” They plan on building up their website and working with the material they currently have.
“After the car was stolen, not gonna lie, we lost faith in humanity for about a week,” said Rubin. “But we do have even more fire, we think, than before.” They intend to continue doing interviews and plan on sharing the story of their journey in perhaps a book or through presentations.
“It’s definitely not over,” said Rubin. “We’ve worked too hard to let this just end with someone else’s triumphs,” added Blackmer.