Notes from the Road

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Cycling into a new world (Final Notes from the Road)
Saturday, November 5, 2011
SCT 2011

Ooooooh Otesha. You once again have captured my heart and soul.
One last performance, one last cycle ride. As we completed our finale performance the the UVic Campus, we were flying high in the sky with the delightful energy that that last performance brought us, that riding the hills of the sunshine coast , and Vancouver island has brought us. And it wasn't only the hills that were challenging; it was the early mornings, it was the flu, it was the rain, it was the challenge of living in a large group, it was the simple life, it was living in close quarters. It was going outside of our comfort zone, and putting ourselves out there in a way that many of us had never imagined we'd ever do. But we sure did do it, and quite successfully too. On our last evening together, we giggled our way together to our dinner spot post performance, with blinking lights in the setting fall sun, and high vis vests galore, we dinged our bells and sang down the streets of Victoria, shouting words of bicycle love to other cyclists along the way. It was a joyous ride, because as a group of strong female individuals, we had come together as one solid team, to take on this challenging two month adventure. Each of us will always remember the delicious food, the early mornings, the feeling of breathing out with excitement when you see all your other teammates arriving at a destination after a long cycling day. We will always remember the folks that we met who are doing amazing work in their communities, the activist swimmers, the keen inspiring environmental clubs, the farmer students, our sacred circle dancing friends, the open farmers, the stores who were generous, and the students who told us the play captured their attention and inspired them to act. 
Forever we have forged friendships with one another that we will never forget, and forever we will remember these days as fun and challenging ones, and forever we will bring this inspiration that Otesha has brought us into our lives and our communities. As we commit to buying nothing new for a year, as we rescue food, as we start up freestores, as we cycle onwards...
Its with great, great gratitude that we write this - to everyone who has touched us along the road, who has smiled as we cycled by, who has helped, supported, and shown love. Thank you. 
It is also with great fairy ferry sparkle dust that we write this message - to everyone that we have come across, that we have planted a seed of hope in many, so that positive action, positive projects continue to evolve in communities across Canada...
peace and bike grease, 

SCT 2011


Friday October 7, 2011
Stephanee Passant


I have an open diet (I can eat anything!) and before embarking on this tour, I wondered how the team would be eating. It sure was a shock when I learned the dietary needs, restrictions and food choices that our team has! Such as....drum roll please.....gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, freegan, flexitarian, meat eaters, locavores, nut free (minus almonds, cashews and pistachios) oh, and almost forgot, no kidney beans! 

We’ve met several times to have discussions surrounding our infamous ‘food mandate’ on items like; will we eat meat? If so, what type of meat and where will it come from? What about coffee, can we buy it if it's not fair trade and organic? Or can all of us agree to eat vegan for the duration of the tour? 

Many meetings later, we decided on what would be most important to us as a team, which included striving for local, organic and fair trade food items, while always accommodating for allergies and food choices, as well as staying within the team budget, plus obtaining donations where possible with a focus on supporting farmers markets and community stores like natural health food shops.

While admittedly challenging at times, it seems we’ve learned to operate quite well and I’ve realized how often food provides opportunities for us to come together as a team. Every day I hear the chime of “thank you” and appreciation as another food crew puts together a filling and socially conscious meal. I love hearing stories from the cooks of the day about the origins of our ingredients or laugh at a song and dance they created to introduce the meal. 
Food on this tour has also taught me about generosity and gratitude. It seems we get a food donation every day from a farm we’ve stayed at or a community garden at a school who are inspired by us. 

I feel eternally grateful for the people we’ve met along the coast and how lucky we are to be able to afford food, not to mention having the liberty to decide on what we should eat. With Thanksgiving around the corner I’m reminded that the most important part of every meal is to be gracious for whatever we are offered from our team mates, from the donations, and the surrounding earth that the food came from.
I think the biggest food success for the team was one meal we had recently at our mid-tour retreat that was all grown and raised on the farm we stayed at - 100 mile diet move over; we’re doing 1 mile! So...we can do it after all and I’ve realized it sure is amazing what we can do when we put our 15 minds together. For me, food will never be the same and I’ll be making many more informed choices on what I’m putting my dollar towards and what I’ll be putting in my body to power it over the hills post-tour. 

Keep on shining,
Stephanee Passant

Feeding our cycling bodies and our motoring minds
September 25, 2011
Jade Gregg

"Brushing my teeth in the morning froths me to epiphany." - The Box Garden by Carol Shields

The days since we ended training week seem to meld like squash, spices and oil being puréed into soup. The mélange has been sweet and pulpy. Our road has been both up and down; both physically and metaphorically. Roadside blackberries and wild peas provide delight and motivation along the way. The space to cycle within a day provides personal reflection time and calm, soothing winds.

The tour has been one full of life. Imagination, creativity, discovery and facilitation have been just some of the many agents−agents contributing and propelling our wildly chaotic yet productive group to novel and splendidly foggy heights.

Composting toilets, time capsules, outdoor kitchens and baths have been among the new (for some) and wondrous (for all) experiences/ideas we have been privy/introduced to. We encountered the lovely folks of Rolling Earth Farm in Roberts Creek, growing and drying their very own quinoa!

There must have been a tidal wave of pressure--a pressure from many angles, felt differently by all. 
I will always appreciate and respect flat tires as a blessing in disguise. 
No need to get too frustrated. 
Petals of torn flesh sting like a bee. 
A bee's venom burns like the ferocious flames of a fire.

We all woke up in the same room together, thanks to the Rockwood Centre in Sechelt, BC. Our performance at Chatelech was a success for some and a challenge for others. After a day of responsibilities, bike maintenance hiccups, changing group dynamics, and mountains to scale, our group came together for an evening potluck and performance. We presented to the Food Action Network and One Straw Society, arguably one of the more meaningful performances of our re-worked play. The discussion that ensued was imbued with high praise, poignant, critical comments and a gust of inspiration. The potluck fed our cycling bodies and the discussion fed our motoring minds.

Bright nights: The phosphorescence enveloping our ocean-bathing bodies are indicative of the magic and wonder which surrounds us always. We are the Earth's stewards and in respecting that role, the Earth bountifully astounds us.

Glowing shades and sparkling mermaids,

The Sunshine Coast "Otesha Ladies" tour








Finding the essence of The Otesha Project

September 21, 2011 
Tricia Enns 

When I ask Otesha alumni about their experiences on tour they always have a hard time summing up their trip in a few sentences. Now I am starting to understand why. Having been on tour for just over a week I already understand how unique this experience is. So, let me TRY to give you a little taste of what makes Otesha so "Otesha-y".

Otesha is:
Waking up in your sleeping bag, feeling every muscle in your back scream "Hello!" partially because you have been sleeping on the group for the past 10 days, and partially because've been using those back muscles while biking up steep hills! 

Feeling your love for oatmeal slowly disappear as you eat copious amounts of it every morning, and sometimes, sometimes you even eat leftovers later as an afternoon snack...YUM!

Feeling your calf muscles smile with relief as your fellow tour mate massages the stiffness out of them. Ohhh yeah!

Eating food off of a plate rather then out of your reusable container starts to feel weird. 

Realizing how important sleep is after getting less then 5 hrs of sleep two nights in a row and then having a day where you have to do two performances and bike for 4 hrs. 

Realizing how amazing and generous people are based on the constant supply of food and accommodation that others provide for you, simply because people recognize that you are trying to make a difference and they want to help too. 

Feeling hope for the future when I see the hope and inspiration in others, both old and young. I can't wait to meet more people that move me to tears, dancing, and laughter.

Both crying and laughing everyday.

Spending half of your waking hours in meetings (although we are getting better at this).

Cooking delicious food for 14 other people and feeling joy in my heart when I see all of their smiling faces and empty plates.

I could go on, but I think I will end here, as you can see, Otesha is so much more then just a bike trip. It’s so much more than just a play. It’s a unique journey that each unique individual experiences differently, and I can't wait to continue with mine!

Peace, Love, Happiness


In loving memory of Andrew Wolf
September 17, 2011
Ashley Thackaberry

Yesterday was a very important and challenging day for me and I'm sure for the rest of the Otesha family and community.  Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of Andrew Wolf's death on 
September 16, 2010.  Being an Otesha “O-lumnus” I remember palpably where I was at the time, what I was doing, and every phone call I received from my past tour members who informed me about what had happened.  I remember how difficult it was for me to hear and digest this news.

Yesterday on my current tour before eating dinner one of our tour members Kayla, gave thanks and gratitude for everyone arriving safely to our destination, tothe earth and sun for providing us with the food we were about to eat, and reminded us of Andrew's passion for food, and so to encourage us to try to eat with intention, and to use this food as medicine and fuel to help us continue this journey safely and healthily.

Today on the 
Sunshine Coast tour my team has been together for a total of 15 days and I already feel this shift happeningfrom “me” to “we”.  I can feel my team's recognition of how important it is that we function as a community rather than as separate individuals.  I see connections and bonds being developed and each member of the team supporting one another in order to be fully present and balanced with what we're doing each day.  In short, I feel the Otesha magic beginning to brew.

I recognize through both my current tour and my previous tour experience that you come to know these beautiful human beings so well, so quickly that you start to care deeply about their health and well-being, and that these people both consciously and unconsciously inspire you to live well, to do more, be more, and generally help you strive to be a better person.

I also see something happening within myself during these first weeks of my second tour.  I see my previous Otesha tour members coming through me and I recognize how this project has changed me and made me a better person through living, biking, and sharing with these incredible people.  Within me there is a continuation of my past tour member's gestures, kindness, wisdom and fun loving attitudes.  I carry my past teammates with me now, and I kmow I always will.

Andrew Wolf will always be part of this growing Otesha family, and his life will continue to inspire us to continue this incredible journey which he was not able to.  I know, in the same way I carry my past teammates through me, that we will carry this beautiful soul with us through all of these journeys on Otesha and in life.

Ashley Thackaberry

For more information about our inspiring O-lumnus, Andrew Wolf, please click here.