The Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation awarded its monthly $1,000 mini-grant to University of Michigan senior Tori Essex on December 3, 2017 to fund her efforts to turn a school bus into a sustainable living space.
Essex, a student in the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design, plans to use the finished bus to convey themes of sustainability and living a creative lifestyle. She will drive the bus to volunteer with farms and nonprofits both in Ann Arbor and across the United States, inspired by her experience volunteering on an organic farm in Ireland last summer. The bus will have a formal audience at the 2018 Stamps Senior Show in April and an informal audience on the road. Instead of making work about sustainability and a creative lifestyle, Essex intends the bus to be a creative work that embodies those themes while serving a utility.
Essex has already purchased a bus at auction, and is currently in the process of renovating its interior. The finished bus will contain custom-built furnishings such as benches with built-in storage, fold-away tables, bookcases, a bed, a sink, a composting toilet, and a booth made out of bus seats. The exterior will have a space for an outdoor shower head and curtain, and a platform on the roof. Essex will source as much material as possible from recycle and reuse centers, scrap material, and free material. She expects to learn the most from her hands-on design and building process.
Essex’s Awesome Foundation grant funds will go toward the $5,000 overall budget for her project. Since the bus has already been purchased, grant funds will go primarily towards purchasing scrap and recycled materials to renovate and furnish the bus. More information and updates on the project can be found at Essex’s blog.
The Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation is the Ann Arbor chapter of the Boston-based micro-philanthropic organization known as the Awesome Foundation. Each fully autonomous chapter supports awesome projects through micro-grants, usually given out monthly. These micro-grants, $1000 or the local equivalent, come out of the pockets of the chapter’s “trustees” and are given on a no-strings-attached basis to people and groups working on awesome projects.