A Tour Bus, Minstrels And Nut Butters? Welcome to SLR!

An eclectic array of tents featuring various environmentally themed carnival games, exhibits and items for sale dotted the quadrant of Aldrich Park directly across from Langston Library at last Saturday’s Wayzgoose festival.

Among the many attractions featured was the Sustainable Living Roadshow (SLR), hailing from Oakland, Calif. The roadshow is currently in the midst of their five-week West Coast spring tour.

“We are doing our spring and summer tour, and a late summer/fall tour on the East Coast,” Zachary Carson, co-founder and executive director of SLR, said. “We are also involved in the Right To Know march, which will demand labels on GMOs [genetically modified organism]. It’s the right to know about simple solutions.”

The roadshow featured a bio-fuel powered bus, a bicycle powered stage and was sponsored by companies such as Birkenstock and Guayaki. Among the many tents and booths were a Green Market Place, GMO Freakshow, various game booths, a Natural Health and Healing tent and demonstrations of composting. The tour is made up of different artists, activists and educators, nearly all of whom are volunteers.

A man known as “Bootstrap” got up on the stage to facilitate a raffle drawing and announced in a booming voice, “We have a variety of nut butters!”

After the raffle, a group of four musicians traveling as part of the SLR sang on the bike-powered stage, although in this case the stage had to be plugged in as it required more power than the bike could provide. The musicians played bongos and congas and one of them strummed a guitar. They sang, “We are the ones we’re been waiting for … they say we’re the future but we’re here right now.”

The roadshow first hit the road in 2005 and has been consistently visiting festivals, conferences, colleges and community gatherings to spread a message of sustainable living. The SLR constantly changes size and employs a revolving door line-up. The core staff consists of Carson; Jonathan Youtt, Co-Founder/Conscious Carnival/Warehouse & Fleet Manager/Creative Spirit; David Satori, Co-Founder/Musician; Veronica Ramirez, Graphic Design/Earth Peace Mandala; Thomas “Clever” Llewellyn, Conscious Carnival/Event & Tour Coordination; Darrin Duber-Smith, Sponsorship and Green Marketing Adviser; Joseph Malki, Sponsorship Sales/Business Development and Grahm Penniman, Booking/Partner Development.

To spread their core message of sustainable living, Carson also advocates raising consumer awareness of sustainable, green products. Among the many tents and exhibits, the SLR featured booths selling Guayaki yerba mate, Birkenstock tote bags, homeopathic medicines and organic nut butters, among other goods.

Behind the comedic theatrics, games and general carnival atmosphere lies an incredible sense of dedication. Town by town, campus by campus and festival by festival, SLR is looking to slowly make a difference in Earth’s well-being. But this is no troop of radical, far-out thinkers. The artists, musicians and educators who make up the SLR hope to provide the communities they visit with simple, affordable and realistic methods to make ecologically conscious changes in their lives.

“The concept of coming together as a community will take us into the future,” Carson said. “We don’t want to be preachy. We want to be fun. A lot of what we try to do is to give communities an education. We’re starting our outreach right now. We live here in California, but you get out to the rest of the country and [sustainable living] is still seen as an underground culture.”