Our followers haven't heard from us in a while. It's been a long few months, and you probably all thought we were caravanning across the South with our library. But alas, we were not. The library is, in fact, dead. That’s a half-truth though, for in reality the library lives on, in our closets, behind our couch, and in our frenzied attempts to re-distribute our overwhelming number of books throughout New Orleans' tiny libraries. It lives too in our knowledge-scapes, richer now with the experiences we had. And it survives into our current project, which is just as much about stories as a library.
We decided to tear down the library in November, during a camping trip at the Kisatchie National Forest. Cajun families had caravanned to the campsite we stumbled upon for their yearly Thanksgiving festivities. We were not expected at this party, but made welcome all the same with home-made fireball shots and ("trust me, dis'll work much better") logs of firewood. With laughter and the sound of music from RVs and the whinnying of horses all around us, the two of us discussed in hushed and then excited tones the thoughts we had both been mulling over for some time. By the next morning we were invigorated to move forth with our plans of destruction.
And construction...of a museum. As it turns out, building a mobile museum is an even more daunting task than building a library. Both exacerbated by New Orleans' potholes--but instead of the crushing sound of alphabetically and genre organized books crashing down all around us, we struggled with new sounds of mosaics popping off, toxic treasure chests flying about, and screams of "oh my god hold down the climate change board!" If Goo-gone was our best friend during library construction, it seems as though we've made a new friend in modge podge for this round of building. Hot glue, guerrilla glue, velcro, and "jesus, let's just screw it down," are also amongst our new found friends. We've made curtains, strung lights, bought a printer, and scrounged the glitter-infested crevices of New Orleans for discarded treasures of all sorts. Elena also found time to plant a garden, and it's of timely relevance that her flowers are blooming and arugula bursting as we put our final touches on the museum.
As one could probably guess, our museum is no ordinary museum. It's from the future (you can read our full story on the About page). The bus is now called TIMESHIP #39, and has a fresh new vinyl to show for it. Inside her there are still stories, meant to harness imaginations into thinking about our collective future here on earth. By presenting this wacky story of ours the museum asks the twin questions: what will the future look like if we continue down this path and what could the future look like if we make changes now?
We have spent the last four months building exhibits on climate change, natural disasters, climate refugees, waste, and the death of our oceans. We find it important to provide information on these subjects, as spreading awareness is always needed. We also know we must include hopeful and inspirational stories, those of revolutionary farmers, change-making politicians, and people confronting the U.S. government and large corporations, because we believe people have given up much of their power to scare stories.
But what's more, our museum is participatory, meaning we hope people we meet weave their own stories into the bus' fabric. Our museum is inclusive, meaning we want everyone to be a part of it, because everyone is needed to create the harmonious future we envision. Our museum seeks to create a web of individuals across America ready to fight. Our museum is risky because we share what is uncomfortable and because we do not have all the answers. Our museum is a tragedy because we share those stories of environmental loss and destruction, those stories that we all know and have. But we share them hoping that together, we can find ways of living through it all. So, as we put our final touches on this project, Elena's garden begins to bloom, reminding us of the forest in the seed.
It was just today, amidst our morning coffee, Anna was working on her puzzle, Emma was watching videos of Ibeyi, and Elena was reading the news. She exclaimed with the sound of utmost hopelessness, "there's a Starbucks opening in Yosemite. All is lost. We might as well lay down." She laid down then and a long silence followed until her moans from the kitchen floor began, "that's tragic... How is that possible, ugh. Oh god. Oh god that's just so terrible." But, she was up after a few moments and together we keep working. The future is hard to build. But at least there'll be coffee.
We have hope that our bus will anger and inspire because we see life within death, flowers after wildfires, and stronger senses of community after disaster. We know we will still have many difficulties on the roads ahead, both figuratively and literally. But, as always, we are up for this challenge. We hope to see you all again, on this road, never stopping, never stopping.
Emma and Elena