East Coast

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Saturday, July 7, 2007 - Saturday, August 18, 2007

August 18-25, 2007

As we are heading to Parlee Provincial Park tomorrow… This is our second last journal entry before we disconnect with the internet world for the last leg of the tour.

After some courageous bridge crossing stunts, we arrived in Stanley, New-Brunswick, where we were welcomed with a warm smile, home-made chocolate cookies and local eggs, by Sandy Hood, a member of the United Church. A very big Otesha thank you!! We much appreciated a dry place to stay after unpredictable weather patterns that day. The next day, August 18th, we performed the Superhero Morning Choices Play for a very keen and participatory church audience who shared much insight on the challenges they felt our society faces.

Forward on to Mactaquac Provincial Park.  It was a stunning day, with many challenges along the way:  Broken cogg, flats, deraillor problems, the ascent of some wicked vertical walls (crazy hills), and unfortunately, mourning the loss of Kristy’s Trailor-Flag-Puppet- Extraordinaire, a.k.a, Guy Dubbs. We wailed along side the country road before carrying on with the journey. This was a beautiful ride, during which Caro witnessed 4 cub black bears and a Mama bear crossing the road.

At the Park, we ate supper as we got dressed for the performance (not uncommon) which had a crowd of 45 young audience members and their families. We all stayed to chat with folks, while a few team members taught some interested kids about bike repair and maintenance under the moon light. We noticed that our water conservation ideas had gotten across when we saw that the toilet, although not ideal, had clogged; due to letting the yellow mellow… Well, it’s a learning process!!J On the following day, which was a day off, our much needed bike chain cleaning party, turned some people (without mentioning Elo, who seems to clean the bike with herself!!!???), into Smudged Grease Monsters!!! It was a funny moment to see Joce bike back with a mission to caution us not to go into town to get groceries in the town of Mactaquac did not exist, she had learned that the hard way!!!

On August 21st we biked into Fredericton, where Caro was interviewed on the radio just a few hours before our performance at the Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB). This performance gave us the opportunity to connect with motivated folks who are interested in getting involved with Otesha in the near future; including 2 young women who are will soon begin a Fredericton chapter of the Otesha Project play. A huge thank you to Tracey from the CCNB!!! And to Scott, (a friend of Frances of BC tour in 2005), who shared his amazing apartment with us and who was sssooooooooo laid back as we took over the kitchen!!!

On the 22nd, we stayed at the United Church   in Oromocto (thank you Bob Mcdell!!) and had home-made pie for breakfast! 

The highlights of the last few days have been sleeping in an animal barn in PetitCodiac, culture jamming, end of tour wrap-up,  skill sharing sessions including journaling with Josh, meeting Micheline and 8-month old baby Otesha, and Max’ eye lids swelling up after her violent on-road collision with a bumble bee.

Last, thank you Soooo much to all the generous folks who helped us with so many things including our recent bike problems :  Ian Smith from Mactaquac Provincial Park, Purly the owner of the  the convenience store in Stanley, as well as Greg from Key Cyles, who came into work on his only day off!!

Max

August 12-18, 2007: Headwinds and Tailwinds

We left Ecotopia on the 12 of August after an amazing week of experiences; we all felt that we gained a lot of understanding about effective workshops, aboriginal cultures, and life on a reserve.  We made a lot of new friends and removed even more “blinders” in how we see our world.

The bike ride to Rexton was almost completely flat with a beautiful tailwind that made the 30 km trip seem much shorter than expected.  Everyone agreed it felt refreshing to be on the road again.  That night, we arrived to the sound of a live band and square dancing next to the river, and most Oteshaites (other than the cooking crew) danced their way over to join the fun.  Later on, we were all eager to talk about Ecotopia; however, insects were conspiring against us in our efforts to gather around the picnic table.  In a few minutes, we had all piled into Kelly’s 3-man tent and ended up having an hour and a half discussion in a very warm, squishy (and smelly) environment!  I feel like we have really become a family.

On August 13, we slept in a little bit – our first “real” day off in about 2 weeks!  Many of us took the opportunity to explore the bike trails in the beautiful (and FLAT) Kouchibouguac National Park.  Others relaxed and reflected in Rexton and Richibucto, checked emails and wrote our families and friends, and ate out on the town.  I found myself noticing how much I’m appreciating small things like warm water to wash dishes in, a toilet that flushes (with a number two of course), a few minutes of time under the shade of a tree to reflect, or a kind smile directed my way. 

The next day we biked to Miramichi; although there was a headwind, it was a flat, relatively easy 72 km ride (for everyone but poor Joc, who got a flat not half an hour into the trip).  My definition of happiness sure has changed since before the tour:  now happiness is a big shoulder (wide enough for a good conversation with your biking buddy), racing trucks with their 4-way flashers on, shooting big grins at SUVS and getting them returned in a big way, and the wonderful feeling of peeling off our “diaper” (cycling) shorts after a long, hot day.  I talked to Kelly about everything from love to idling cars on this ride… it’s that ability to be at once fun, serious, and deep that makes me cherish being with these Otesha folks so much.  For example, supper was prepared to the sound of Disney theme songs performed with much gusto by the “bouncing blondies” to the beat of their knives chopping up the yummy local vegetables!

On August 15, we performed for the first time our new version of the Morning Choices play, which we call the Superheroes play; it’s similar to the old one, but we feel that it may appeal to a younger audience.  Our performance was at the French Fort Cove Ecocentre, where exhibits teach about the history and ecosystems of the Miramichi watershed, including wetland plants, salmon, and the great fire of 1825.  We were able to have a tour of this amazing learning space before the performance even though it’s not open to the public yet.  In between the tour and the performance, many of us took the opportunity to get in a little cat nap – our host later commented in front of our audience that we “looked like a bunch of sleeping kittens”.  I thought that was a perfect description of the way we live here in Otesha – play and learn like crazy until we flop!

We had an early start the next day to bike our longest distance yet, over 90 km with a strong headwind!  Five or six hours of biking later, (not counting lunch and bathroom breaks J) we reached the village of Doaktown, where we were met and welcomed by the mayor and five youth who biked with us into the village center.  We were overwhelmed by their generosity and thoughtfulness: we were fed in a restaurant, thanked over and over again, given a wonderful and information rich tour of the Salmon Museum on August 17, and even given free access to the internet at the community center. 

Tomorrow, we set off towards Stanley, a town near Fredericton, the capital city of New Brunswick.  With only two weeks left of the tour, we are eager to hone our new play and get it polished, learn skills from other tour members, and are all looking forward to reuniting with the Maritimes tour in Moncton!

Contributed by Erica

August 6-11, 2007

Ecotopiaaaaaaaa!

We continued along the gorgeous Fundy Coastal Drive stopping at the famous tourist destination of Hopewell Rocks heading to Riverview. At low tide the flower pots were amazing standing tall, we were able to walk out along the beach and meander with the other folks who came to see the sight. After a nice sunny day of good riding the group arrived at the Marina and were awaiting the contact person who would bring the key and realized they were hungry yet again.. The only food they had was some leftover oatmeal so being crafty without any tools, they filled their palms and squirted on the pb&j from the army ration packs and dug in. Just then the contact person drove up and Kristy the host liason greeted her with a full hand, jumped in the van and to the laughter of the rest returned 15mins later still with oatmeal in hand not wanting to offend by stuffing her face in the van. The next day the gong show continued when passing by Magnetic Hill outta town Josh's derailer got pulled into his spokes by the force, ripped in half and forced him to hitch back to Moncton for a visit to the bike doctor.

Finally the group arrived in Harcourt, another beautiful day of riding although hot and flat, and were re-united again with Erica and Zeke who did some recharging and repairing in Moncton. Erica cured her intestinal bug, and Zeke finally got a granny gear ready to conquer those hills! We set up camp under a grove of apple trees on blessed land, part of the 50 acres that is Willi Nolan's place, a strong woman who was our amazing host for the five days of Ecotopia put on by the Sierra Club of Canada Atlantic Chapter, had a delicious supper including those good ol army ration packs and bannock made by the Elder Veera. The next day a shopping trip was made filling the trunk and backseat burying the passengers with bulk food and produce to feed the 50 participants (vehicle not supplied by Otesha ;) while everyone else put up a large army style tent that later unfortunately came down in the crazy windy storm, fortunately the sleepy occupant came out unscathed.

The event was kicked off with energizers and games in the large yurt over a huge pot of classic curried lentil stew, and an anti-oppression workshop the next morning. The Oteshites were kept busy as the cooking crew for the event, while preparing a large dinner on the second day a group of participants arrived on the road from Toronto the potatoes were peeled by the pound. Between attending inspiring workshops on Environmental Racism, Vegemobiles- learning how to convert a diesel engine to veggie oil, Yurt building, The Salmon Index Restoration project on the Richibucto River, Atlantica, and dissecting a Beehive Collective poster on Plan Colombia, we performed our Morning Choices play and facilitated a Cradle to Cradle workshop looking at the lifecycle of a product. Having a solid camp for 5 days gave the group time to take a dip/much needed wash in the chilly pond fed by an underground stream, get creative with the old bike tubes and chain making jewlery and belts, what to do with tons of leftover beans, learn new energizers and songs around the campfire, learn about the Migmaw spirituality and make strong bonds and friendships with the youth from Big Cove and the many wonderful friends of Willi's, and the Ecotopia organizers and staff that we met. Finally on the last day the long awaited basketball show down happened between the youth from T-O and the youth from Big Cove with the help of Toots and K-Dubbs.

In the whirlwind that was Ecotopia, countless lessons were learnt and are still being learnt from the diverse perspectives. We had some good bonding time and a big sigh when the event was over as we had been awaiting and planning since the beginning of tour.

Zeke

Sierra Club of Canada Atlantic Chapterhttp://www.sierraclub.ca/atlantic/

The Beehive Collective http://www.beehivecollective.org/

Resist Atlantica

http://www.resist.stopatlantica.org/index.html

From Biodevastation to Biojustice

http://www.biodev.org/

Salmon Restoration Projecthttp://salmon.elsipogtog.ca/newspaper_articles_elsipogtogeoei

July 30- August 5, 2007: A New Land

So we said good bye to Nova Scotia, a bit surprised that we have already spent a month together, and said hello to a foggy St. John, New Brunswick. We gave a well attended presentation and bike workshop in St. John and then headed for the Villa Madona to begin our midtour retreat. We were treated to beds, a kitchen, and the amazing hospitality and conversation of the Sisters at the Villa Madona. We also had the great opportunity to learn about nuclear energy and a possible pipeline going through Rockwood Provincial Park, among other things, from Dave Thompson, a member of the Conservation Council of NB. We even got to talk on the news! After some reflecting and team building workshops we left the villa Madona and set out for Sussex where we were confronted by tanks with armed soldiers. We soon found out that Sussex was hosting a military training camp. After talking with some of the soldiers they generously gave of some of their rations that they wouldn't be needing. We were excited to see what they looked like and how they tasted. After 60km, over a dozen steep hills in 35C weather we made it to Fundy National Park. That night we preformed at an outdoor theatre for a crowd of 152 people. It was apparent that the energy of the crowd was rubbing off on us and we had one of our most enthusiastic performances. We also did a bike maintenance workshop in the park. Sadly, we soon learned that one of our bikers had returned home to get some needed rest. We wish her the best and hope that it will be "all good in the hood" real soon. Can't win them all.  We then camped out in Ponderosa Pines Campground which strangely doesn't have any Pondersoa Pines. We are really enjoying New Brunswick and are looking forward to what awaits us as we bike North, which includes a five day workshop called Ecotopia.

- Kelly Toots

July 28, 2007: The Acadian Coast

First of all, it is hard to believe that this was our LAST WEEK in  Nova Scotia!  We have seen and done so much since July 1!  This week  we covered over 225 km of beautiful rolling hills, and highly enjoyed  our stay in the Acadian (French-speaking) area of this province.  One  sad event this week is that we learned that Jesse and Emma will be  parting ways with us in St.John.  We will miss their input and energy!   Highlights of the week include:  our stay in Pubnico Ouest, where we  got to see wind turbines, chat with lobster fishermen, and cheer on  the local Canadian Idol contender (Dwight D'eon) at the community  Legion.  In Yarmouth we had a small but very appreciative crowd for  our first workshop, and stopped along the way at Smuggler's Cove, a  provincial park with a history of rumrunning.  For a very intense day  and a half we were at Universite Ste-Anne (the Maritimes' only  French-language university), working on projects for upcoming events  AND practicing our french.  Why?  Because there was a french-immersion  program there at the time so we had to ONLY speak french with the  non-tour members!  I think the fracophone members of our group  appreciated it very much.  Finally we made it to Digby, the launching  point for the ferry to New Brunswick, did more work on our  presentation and upcoming workshops, played waterpolo at the pool of  the arena we were staying at, and prepared for our ferry ride the next  day!

Just another atypical week in the life of an Otesha tour member!

Mary Anne Young

Week 3!

Welcome week 3, a beautiful sunny Sunday morning dawned at Erica's house in Bridgewater. We enjoyed the opportunity to swim, shower and clean clothes. We made use of her families computers and front lawn to conduct research for our food mandate and practice our skit. After a leisurely ride to Shipyard's Landing park in Bridgewater, we conducted a performance to an unlikely audience; a baseball team in red & white. We also added an impromptu performance to some tired swimmers at a regional Swim Meet.

The next afternoon found us cycling with a glorious tailwind into Lunenburg(home of the Bluenose). We revelled in the weightless feeling of travelling without our panniers, which we left behind at Erica's house. We conducted a cramped but well-attended performance in the Lunenburg Library, ducking in and out of bookshelves. We began our ride back to Bridgewater by sunset & had our first experience night riding.

On Tuesday the 17th we wished Beth and Paul Newton - Erica's generous and accomidating parents goodbye adn mounted our bikes for the ride to Risser's Beach. We stopped at LaHave bakery enroute where we were, fortunate to recieve a donation of their delicious bread. Our day ended after a late dinner amongst a rummage sale in a friendly church and slept on the grassy space outdoors, falling asleep to frogs and goats(lovely sounds).

Wednesday we ate and packed quickly, concious of the 60 kilometre ride to Port Mouton. Erica rode with a rhubarb pie from the tall white churche's bake sale bungee'd to her bike rack. We all arrived safely at the Port Mouton Youth Hostel, tired from our ride and grateful for a roof over our heads to fend off the foggy weather. Not only were we blessed with a  roof, but the luxury of real beds!  In the evening we attended a community meeting about the concerns of local fishermen backed by scientific research about the impact of factory farming on the local lobster fishery and tourism.  More information can be found at www.friendsofportmoutonbay.ca.  

As our time together progresses, we grow slowly more efficient at our evening meetings and our performance becomes more assured ever time. We look forward to becoming even more fluid ad we work, play and learn together over the next few weeks.

July 19, 2007: Watch out East Coast, here we come!

After an energizing and inspiring week of training, our 14 member "East Coast" Otesha team was excited to begin our journey of sharing our passions for a healthy planet with individuals and communities we encounter on 2 wheels (plus trailers, of course) for the next 2 months. After a warm farewell to our friends in the Maritimes tour (for now.. until Moncton), we set our with terrific weather and smiles on our faces.

Over the past week, we have been fortunate to visit, make friends and share stories with wonderful folks at the Adventure Earth Center, Micous Island, Hubbards, Chester, Mahone Bay and Bridgewater- all communities along the Southern shore of NS.

Throughout our travels, we are bonding more and more each day and are becoming a very open and caring team (with a healthy dose of group hugs!). We have divided our tasks (like cooking, planning our route, coordinating with our hosts, and many more), by forming teams of "Supersquads" and our major decisions are made by consensus decision making. We have delved into our Morning Choices theatric performance with gusto, with human toilet and shower props and all, and have loved the opportunities to share the Otesha funk and message with keen audiences in a variety of settings. It is great to be working so well together and learning from everyone, be it tidbits of knowlege relating to environmental and social issues, cycling, how to make yummy soy milk, cool songs and games, and even creative frisbee disk throws! It was also neat to celebrate Caroline's 18th birthday in French and English!

While our Otesha community is sprouting like crazy (hopefully our sunflower seeds will soon follow suit!), we have also been hugely humbled by the gracious generosity and over-the-top hospitality that we have experienced on the way. From tasty yummies and donations, to warm and comfy stays in churches, communities centers and campsites, we are very grateful. Hearing stories and seeing examples of how local community members and groups are engaged in promoting and preserving the state of the environment has been hugely inspiring- it definitely helps us get up those tough rolling hills we have traversed and reinforces our message that each and every one of us has the power to be the change we'd like to see in the world!

Here are some inspiring examples:

  • The Adventure Earth Center: an active youth oriented outdoor education and leadership group (http://www.earthed.ns.ca/)

  • Genuine Progress Index: an organization using innovative methods to measure sustainable development (http://www.gpiatlantic.org/)

  • Friends of Mahone Bay Woods and Soccer Field: a group in Mahone Bay that is opposed to a large scale development project in the community's "backyard" (http://mahonewoodsandfield.net/)

So with joy and appreciation in our hearts, energy in our pedal strokes, and eagerness to reach out and learn from the communities in NS as a unified team, we continue our journey onwards and upwards (well, actually in a Southerly direction... details, details!) for a green and happy earth!

Thanks for following our tour and we appreciate your support! :)

July 7, 2007: The first step

The 2007 East Coast Tour members have officially become fully minted Otesha-ites!

After our training week's closing ceremonies last night, each tour member received their own, unique, Otesha t-shirt and was unleashed upon Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to wreak change on the world.

Yesterday was full of surprises, songs, interesting (and gross) talent displays, and our first performance!

The crowd of a little over twenty included the members of the several representatives of the Halifax Urban Farm, our training week hosts, the Maritimes Tour and several people from Otesha's home base in Ottawa who had been guiding us through our gestation period.

But now we are fully formed, adorned in bright colours, and ready to fly on two wheels through rain and shine to reach the minds of people all along our route. 

Check back for more updates, and please sign up for our journal's mailing list at the top of this page!