21 July 2006

Urban Camper Types

This urban camping trip was a practice in mobility, simplicity and perspective (read more).

In my last urban camping trip I experimented with chic minimalism while exploring the symbiotic relationship of house-sitting (read more).

My first urban camping thoughts hit me in Chicago where I had a tiny studio apartment in a fantastic neighborhood. It was like sleeping in the walk-in closet of this great house of a neighborhood. I realized that the place where you sleep is not the place where you live (read more).

Here is a recap of the various urban camper types I've found:

Anarchist Urban Camper: 'ambi'

Associated with Homes Not Jails group. Camps in places where owners are unaware of his/her presence. Discovered 'ambi' through Google search in 2003: Did not try to contact ...

Artists: Ulay & Abramovic

Art Vital motto included no fixed living place, permanent movement and mobile energy. Camped in van for years, traveling Europe like nomads. Learned of Ulay & Abramovic at art school in 1999: Did not try to contact ...

Couch Surfer: Casey Fenton

Founded CouchSurfing project in 2003 so travel addicts could camp worldwide for free at each others' houses. Version 2.0 being built after fatal database crash on 27 June 2006 disrupted 90,000 members. Heard of website via friend in 2005: stayed with five Amsterdam members and met Casey in Rotterdam during the same year.

Creative Housesitter: SARK

Put ad in paper, "incredible housesitter seeks incredible house," which resulted in camping two years rent free in 4-bedroom mansion in San Francisco. Read SARK's A Creative Companion in 1995: Emailed her ...

Designer Camping in Office

Photos of designers in sleeping bags camping under whiteboards in their office. Found through Technorati.com search in 2005: Left message on his photo log ...

Domestic Imperfectionist: Dan Ho

Spent last eight years getting rid of stuff. After a failed marriage at age of 40, reduced his possessions down to about 55 things. "Motivated neither by debt nor by environmentalism but simply by a compulsion to unburden himself..." He has 47 items of clothing and a backpack, suitcase, television, computer, bath towel, single set of sheets, toothbrush and bottle of witch hazel. Wrote book: Rescue From Domestic Perfection, and has TV program on the Discovery Health channel: “The Dan Ho Show” where he talks people out of needless redecorating.

Modern Nomad: Rita Golden Gelman

Sold all possessions after divorce at age 48 in 1986. No permenant address since. Writes children's books. Camps and cooks with families all over the world. Featured on Starbuck's cup in 2005. Learned of her in 2003 when spotted girl at train station in Munich reading Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World: Emailed her ...

No Impact family: Colin Beavan, Michelle Conlin, & two-year-old daughter Isabella

Family living in Manhattan conduct year-long environmental lifestyle experiment. They do not buy anything except food, and only eat food organically grown within a 250-mile radius of Manhattan (the longest distance a farmer can drive in and out of the city in one day); do not create trash except for compost; do not use paper or carbon-fueled transportation. See also, www.noimpactman.com

Nomadic Writer: Elizabeth Gilbert

Concept for her book came when she was divorcing at the beginning of her 30s. She wanted to explore a part of herself in the context of three different places. In her book, Eat Pray Love, she examines 'pleasure' in Italy, explores 'devotion' in India and then looks at the art of 'balancing' the two in Indonesia. Four months in each place.

Nomadic Writer: Ramon Stoppelenburg

Set up a website to chronicle his travels. Traveled the world without money from May 2001 to July 2003. Traveled through hitchhiking or help from sponsors. Stayed with people who invited him via his website www.letmestayforaday.com In return, he wrote daily reports on his website.

Roadtrip Nation: Nathan Gebhard, Brian McAlliste, and Mike Marriner

Three college graduates learn what to do with their lives by touring U.S. in neon green RV. Interview more than 80 professionals including Starbucks chairman, Saturday Night Live director, Boston Philharmonic conductor, first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Madonna's head stylist, etc. Princeton Review article says, "The roadtrip confirmed the recent grads' beliefs that exploration alleviates the ambiguity associated with defining one's own road in life." See also: www.roadtripnation.com. Heard of them on 2006 BBC World Service interview: Emailed them ...

Rotterdam Motel Mozaique Festival

Local yearly event since 2000. Offers three days of pop music, dance, theatre and visual arts at 13 locations. Visitors camp at hotels created by artists for the festival. Discovered flyers in 2003: have not yet attended.

Rotterdam Camping Festival

Local yearly event since 2004. Part of city turned into kitsch camping ground for six days. Tents rented out. Corny activities planned. Friend gave me flyer in 2004: have not yet attended.

Slinkachu's Little People

The artist leaves hand-painted miniature people around London "to fend for themselves." Some of his little people were urban campers.

Squatters: Freegans

Name comes from combination of free and vegan. Mainly focus on wasted food. However, also believe poor people have rights to camp in empty city buildings. Heard BBC World Service interview with a Freegan in 2006: Briefly joined their discussion group (mostly about free food) in the same year.

Tempe's Homeless Community

Community in Arizona protested for the poor in 2003. Asked, "Why should sleep be criminalized? Protest the urban camping ordinance! Creative Resistance Welcome!" Discovered by Google search in 2005: Did not try to contact ...

Times Square Tents: Zach, Paul, Amit

Pitched tents on sidewalks in Manhatten. Discovered photos via Google search in 2005: Emailed back and forth with Amit about our experiences in same year. Both of our stories featured in Ariel Brewster's 20 April 2006 Cape Cod Times article on urban camping.

Urban Camping Definitions

UrbanDicionary.com collects definitions of urban phenomenon from readers. Best rated of five urban camping definitions describes a form of penance after ending a long-term relationship in late twenties or early thirties: Must aquire small sparsely equipped apartment until guilt subsides, then add material possessions to impress others. Discovered through friend in 2005: Tried to add new definition, but never appeared.

Urban Camping Family: Peter and Andrea Tombrowski (and kids)

Sold their car in 1998 to simplify their lives. Walked everywhere ever since. Said, "We like to call what we do 'urban camping' because we consider our life to be like a camping trip..." Found online text ad for their book in 2006: Emailed each other about our experiences ...

Urban Camper Musician: Jane Siberry

Canadian musician has worked with KD Lang, Peter Gabriel, Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno. Became addicted to nomadic lifestyle after two years of renting out her house and couchsurfing to pay for recording of Shushan. Sold house and all possessions in 2006 at age 50. Two newspaper articles on her titled Imagine no possessions and Wander Women. Discovered her site through friend in 2006: Emailed her and she replied with one word, Sisters ...

Urban Camper Musician: Jason Schadt

Owns urbancamping.com URL. Hip Hop emcee, producer, video artist and traveller. Defines urban camping as "... a state of mind. It is the exploration of culture in an urban setting, reflecting on nature as it is manifested in the city environment. Urban Camping is collaboration and experience on a global scale. It is inspiration and focus for all Nomadic Addicts on a musical, spiritual and cultural quest." Discovered site in 2005 via Google: Emailed each other about our experiences ...

Urban Camper Photographer: Mike Calabro

Owns urbancamper.com URL. Photographer doing also web and print work. Portfolio site begins with, "I suffered from the dot-bomb environment years ago and have not 'worked' a day since. Life is great. I eat, drink, take photos, write stories and travel for money." Discovered site in 2005 via Google: Emailed him ...

Wandering Scribe: Anya Peters

Woman with law degree, but no family, not comfortable asking friends for help. Camped in car at edge of woods outside London for nine months. Started blog in library for last four months. BBC wrote two articles on her. In late May, earned enough money from readership (PayPal) and book deal to move into rental room. Saw her site in Blogger's Blogs of Note list end of May 2006: Emailed her ... Fake Wandering Scribe left comment on 2 June 2006.

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