Bus 52 describes itself in numbers, working under a slogan that boasts “100+ stories, 52 weeks, 48 states, 4 people, 1 bus, 1 year.” But Bus 52 is decidedly about the people. Amy Chin, one of the nonprofit’s founders, told me while working on their next story, “We just want something that speaks to people.” In essence, the group asks people to speak to them about the work they do in their distinct community. These stories then end up on the organization’s website, bus52.com. Through a cross-country tour laced with social media and a mission to inspire, Bus 52 is stopping in every continental U.S. state to discover, investigate, and present to the public a few quirky organizations that are both unique to and integral in their community. Most any independent-minded, aid-giving, or inspiring local project could be considered for a feature. Already through the southern half of our evidently optimistic nation, Bus 52 has come across more than 50 organizations so far. These groups do everything from giving makeovers to cancer patients to distributing recycled bikes and teaching blues music workshops.
Amid the work that these programs do, Bus 52 has created for itself an essential but modest task. “Our goal is just to share the stories,” offered Chin. “We’re not trying to be a part of the stories we end up telling, and maybe we’re not able to see all the impact this can have on a community, but we’re able to see how it fits in and what role it can play.” In doing so, Bus 52 has emerged as a way to take a locally scaled project and expose it to the masses via the web. It’s Chin’s hope that showcasing these projects will give Americans the capacity and inspiration to aid each other.
Most recently, Bus 52 rolled through Santa Barbara for one of its two stops in the expansive state of California. The mission: to visit and profile S.B.’s own Art From Scrap, an environmental education facility, art gallery, and reuse store located on the corner of Cota and Garden streets. Frequenters of Art From Scrap will no doubt recognize the feelings Chin described when asked about her visit. She recalled “walking in and knowing … you can do whatever you want with all of this, which is kind of mind boggling. When you walk in it’s kind of overwhelming, but in the best way possible.” That feeling of slight chaos, of almost being engulfed by the sheer amount of wonderful stuff, is what defines the Art From Scrap experience, and it’s captured perfectly in Bus 52’s mini-documentary. The short film also explains the mission of Art From Scrap and the fundamental words that sum up the organization. More than that, though, Bus 52 effectively conveys the feeling of Art From Scrap, which is something that most definitely deserves to go viral. To view the video, read the story, or learn more about Bus 52, visit bus52.com.