Riding the Ride: Lessons from a little blue bus

He’s a morning driver for the Green Line bringing people to work in the early am. He greets every passenger who gets on the bus, and taught me step by step how to secure my bike to the front of the bus. (After I tried on my own of course,  fiddling with bike, camera, and mike in hand for a good embarrassing minute.) I see him in the mornings and he always says hi.

As does Debbie, who drives the red line out on HPR.
And Clip who drives the blue.

I met John just a couple of days ago, while catching the Green Line to SEARHC hospital, a major destination for bus users coming to and from work. I ride to SEARHC in the mornings, but have no appointment. I ride to the Ferry Terminal in the afternoons, but have no ticket. I ride downtown, and down HPR and off onto Sawmill Creek Road. That’s why I’m here in Sitka, to hop-on and off a non-hop-on-hop-off bus.

“Is that what you do? Ride the bus and… talk to people?” a new friend asks me at a quintessential Sitka potluck.
Well, kind of.

It’s what an average day looks like, carrying the video camera, tripod, and microphone around, asking strangers to sign Artchange waivers, standing on the bridge, waiting for the perfect moment for that mountains-in-the-background shot of the little blue bus. I collect the stories and support of those who ride the ride. And then I make short videos.

“Well that doesn’t sound very exciting. A documentary about the bus?” asks my grandpa, the night before I leave to catch my Seattle-Ketchikan-Sitka plane. “It’s not going to be a documentary, grandpa!” I laugh and add, but it does leave me wondering. What’s exciting about the bus?

For Josie and Sabrina, it’s pulling the rope when it’s time for their stop.

For Destiny, it’s getting on and realizing all her friends are on too.

Oh, and for me?
For me, it’s yes, pulling the cord, being a new member of the bus crew, getting to meet and know locals everyday. But it’s also fighting for something that seems small but really isn’t. I may not be fighting for world peace (what a paradox that is) or working for basic human rights and environmental justice out in the field, but changing people’s perceptions regarding who takes the local bus and helping those who fully depend on it keep their principal and often only method of transportation is a pretty big deal. Suddenly a little blue bus seems like a big deal. Especially if you’re a storyteller. Suddenly, the footage that you thought was made of dustbunnies (as Ellen calls it) becomes a story worth sharing.

Clip, Debbie and John, Sabrina, Josie and Destiny, they’re all Peanut Butter & Jelly Heroes. Peanut Butter & Jelly heroes are the people making society’s Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, helping those who need it, doing their best and working behind the scenes without the accolades and attention. I’m excited to make films with them as the heroes.

And so, off I go, back on the bus.

Feel free to follow my tumblr for more on and off bus adventures: http://berriesandbears.tumblr.com/
And as our very first meme says, follow us, Artchange, Inc summer interns with the hashtag #stikastories.