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Bicycle journey that explored “radical homesteading” rolls into Velo Cult tonight

Posted by on April 4th, 2013 at 11:16 am

The Hussin brothers and their vehicles.
(Photo: Hussin brothers)

Two brothers who took a two-year, cross-country, roadkill-fueled bicycle journey while exploring “radical homesteading,” and “guerilla camping” will screen some of their films at Velo Cult tonight. Noah Hussin and his brother Tim documented the entire trip and are working on a film project titled America Recycled.

With partial funding from National Geographic, the brothers sought out how people were living off the land and spent time with communities far off the grid. Noah and Tim grew up in suburban Florida where they became, “Disillusioned by many of our inherited cultural values.” Their trip was an attempt to discover a different way of living. Here’s more from their USA Projects crowdfunding site:

“Rather than focusing on the nuts and bolts of building new infrastructure and restructuring cultural relationships, our work explores the social, spiritual, and psychological effects of scaling down, re-localizing, and connecting to community and land.”

Noah currently lives in Portland was featured in the Willamette Week yesterday. When asked what it was like riding bikes through the South, Noah said:

Being two white American brothers on bicycles, we felt completely immune to police or anybody. That was the most endearing thing to everybody. We could have been trafficking cocaine and nobody would have caught us. Especially in the South, there are all these good ol’ boys, cops, and they’d be like, “What y’all doing?” It’s like, “Oh, we’re riding across the country.” “Riding across the country? Wow, wow, I love adventure, I always wanted to do something like that. How long y’all been on the road?”

Check out their teaser video below:

Trailer from America reCycled on Vimeo.

The Hussin brothers are now working to raise $12,000 to make their feature length film a reality. Much of their photography (Tim is a professional who has done work for National Geographic), videos, and other content from their trip is available for free at AmericaRecycled.org.

Meet Noah, learn more about this amazing trip, and see some of his film clips at a free event at Velo Cult (1969 NE 42nd) tonight starting at 8:00 pm.

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  • Gabriel Amadeus April 4, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Awesome! I’ve been following their project for a year or two, seriously inspiring film, writing, and experiences.

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  • Chrystal April 4, 2013 at 11:47 am

    This looks really exciting, I can’t wait to see more!

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  • joe kurmaskie April 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Love it. Hope more screenings, I have to miss tonight but want to see and hear more from this pair.

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  • Jon April 4, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Every time I think the TV show Portlandia is fiction, news articles like this show up and I realize that I’m living in place where people seem to take things 1 or 2 steps beyond what the majority of people in this counry would find reasonble or normal.

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    • Jon April 4, 2013 at 2:52 pm

      What the majority of the USA thinks is reasonable and normal is not what I think is reasonable and normal. That said, you don’t have to travel many miles outside of the Portland city limits to find a lot of people think the residents of Portland are crazy. I work outside of Portland but live in Portland by choice because I enjoy the city and the vitality of the residents. Viva la difference.

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  • joe kurmaskie April 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Hey Jon, Normal and reasonable? To be a slave to your possessions, cradle to grave at work they don’t find fulfilling, or to make flippant comments on a blog about two brothers exploring a path that happens to be different from what you think is normal and reasonable? I am willing to bet that your majority, that being people who are offended by what these gents are looking into, is actually far smaller than you think. Good on you boys, I just donated over at your kickstarted. And Jon, You should get out more…

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    • CaptainKarma April 4, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      I don’t think Jon was being derogatory, I think he meant it as a compliment to the bros for going that extra step? maybe i’m wrong…Jon?

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      • longgone April 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm

        I gave them both a check mark ’cause I just was so confused! Not to open the can o’worms of good ‘ol boy’s and the South…but being a bike tour fanatic FROM the south, I would have to say that in 30 years of riding around the country, few local cops pry much when you are on the road no matter where you are. Then again, I never travel with cocaine either. Joe, you’ve been around. What’s your take?

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    • Alan 1.0 April 4, 2013 at 9:13 pm

      The phrase from that clip that stuck with me was, “we need less divisive movements” (4:26). In this era of so-called culture wars, that sounds appealing. But what are we if not diverse? A melting pot? A cauldron of ideas? I guess it’s one of the Hussin brothers flicking off his shoulder and saying “OK, go enjoy your boring life…” (3:59) So, I don’t know, but I’m guessing that if he rode past my suburban house, or even stayed on my couch for a night, he might write me off as having a boring life or being one of those isolated, lonely souls they mention at the beginning. I don’t think that’s true, I have a fortunate, full and satisfying life, and I’m pretty sure there are some things I do which he (they) might consider an adventure. I’m not “offended” in the least by their message, but I think they might be a bit young or naive or not quite as open-minded as they’d like to think, and that maybe they are even part of a “divisive movement” if they aren’t open to considering that many–even a majority–of Americans aren’t reasonably satisfied living more mainstream lives than those the video puts on a pedestal.

      Anyway, very thoughful and thought provoking, beautiful footage and good production.

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      • Noah Hussin April 5, 2013 at 1:48 pm

        Alan,

        Thanks for putting so much thought into our video. The person in the video you’re referring to is not me or my brother, but one of our subjects, who is into his 40s and has his own perspective shaped after years of trying different ways of living.

        As filmmakers we try to offer space for our subjects to speak their mind without judgement. Some things people feel stir controversy and can come off as self-righteous at times, but knowing him personally, I can say he is a deeply compassionate person who likes to provoke people to think about the world and doesn’t put himself on a pedestal.

        The person who encourages less divisive movements is speaking directly to the attitude that turns you off. Sometimes that attitude peeks through the subcultures we explore through the film. Building bridges is hard work from both sides, and it will take time. I’d love to hear what you think of the short films on our website which are much more in depth. http://www.americarecycled.org/episodes.

        Thank you for the feedback. Trying to present a balanced and human vision through this is one of our biggest challenges, and we welcome criticism, wherever it’s coming from.

        -Noah

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        • Alan 1.0 April 5, 2013 at 8:29 pm

          Wow! What a pleasant surprise! A reply from you, Noah! :-)

          Thanks for explaining about the “boring lives” vignette. I guess it makes my observation limited just to that guy’s perceptions, and I understand that a few seconds of video doesn’t do justice to his fuller world view, but I still have this feeling after viewing this video, and more on http://americarecycled.com, of a deliberate and outright rejection of more stereotypical American cultures. Yet in my experience there are many incredibly wonderful, thoughtful, productive and happy people embodied in that more traditional appearance (example: greenhouse woman at 14:10 in I.D.A. video). It’s a little like Brad and Janet in Rocky Horror, where despite being portrayed as a white-bread sort of normal, they are really not so different under their appearance from any of the freaks, or vice versa (and that vice versa is important ‘cuz the freaks are normal, too). Or, put differently, the relationship between discovering new and packing away old is not necessarily one of exclusion, and there are ways that both co-exist and thrive. Yeah, building bridges is hard, but good.

          In a longer film, with more comparative vignettes juxtaposing various views and styles, I suspect I would not have been as inclined to read any one subject’s views as representative of your position. Or maybe it needs more formal introduction and narrative to identify different subjects or how you are casting them. Or, of course!!, it’s fine to make people like me think about what’s being said, by whom, in context, and then react to it.

          Anyway, I like your work. The writing on your blog is fantastic to read. To me, your works fit in a genre of story-telling and cultural documentation that I like, examples like travelogue Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon and documentary film I Am by Tom Shadyac. Good luck!

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          • Caleb April 6, 2013 at 5:54 am

            One could say I was raised in a family and community based on traditional American values. I was at first very enthusiastic and defensive about those values and the subsequent life. Then I was bored and questioning of them. Then I was extremely bored and questioning of them. Later I was very critical of them and frustrated with people perpetuating them. Even later I despised them, and felt angry with people perpetuating them. I experienced the mentality which projects mental and emotional responses to them upon my perception of people currently experiencing them. But eventually I came to understand the subjective nature of all qualities in any way of life, recognized my own responsibility in my boredom and others’ responsibility in their corresponding enjoyment, and did what I could mentally to quell my boredom and accept all ways of life.

            Eventually I spent brief time living on a bicycle, though. In this time I realized I hadn’t eliminated boredom from my life, but had only repressed it whenever it started. I found that out by experiencing more unrestrained joy in the time on the bicycle than in any time since my early youth. So while I wouldn’t call anyone’s way of life “boring”, I would still encourage them to try something more directly connected to their survival and more intimately involved with the survival of their community. I just believe that much in simpler living being a remedy for many modern mental/emotional issues that we don’t even think we have.

            All I’m trying to say by this is that maybe the person telling people to enjoy their boring lives is much less antagonistic than we might perceive his words to indicate, and maybe instead he’s just trying to put into words a comprehensive comparison that can’t easily be understood until you’ve experienced it yourself, and in the meantime he is feeling some frustration with the fact others haven’t already experienced it, because he believes so much in the positive influence it can have on anybody.

            I hope that makes some sense.

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            • Noah Hussin April 6, 2013 at 3:12 pm

              Well said Caleb. It’s not about the destination, but about the journey, and how that journey shapes you as a human. No matter what life we’re born into, we can benefit from stepping outside of our comfort zone from time to time and living to a different pulse-if for no other reason than to gain some perspective.

              Some people will happily choose a cozy life in the suburbs, but the key word there is CHOOSE. We do not choose what life we are born into, but we do have the power to explore, bang our head against different lifestyles and cultures, and think critically about ourselves and the world around us. Afterward, some of us may settle nicely into where we came from, with a greater appreciation for home and enlightened by the journey. Others will make radical changes to accommodate what they’ve seen and reach for something different. Neither is right, neither is wrong. The important thing is that your life is your own, and you’re living it because it’s what you want, and not because you feel trapped.

              The world is full of people who are trapped by circumstances, who feel completely powerless in the face of the world and humanity. Those of us who are lucky enough to choose freely have no excuse to not pursue a life that is worthy of our vision. And once we get there, we might just be able to help others do the same.

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              • Caleb April 13, 2013 at 7:26 am

                Wow, I admire your ability to put so succinctly basically my entire existential understanding and preference. Perhaps the only change I would make is that within the journey there are many destinations. :)

                I’ve recalled your comment over and over, and what brought me back to it now is an e-mail my brother sent me. He travels around the country as a well-paid and pampered technician, but apparently he’s getting the itch to do more for people other than himself and his co-workers, and he says he feels he’s falling apart. He could quit his job any time if he wanted to, but the trappings of our lives are more than the most obvious options, and perhaps they are much more significantly in our own minds and emotions. I’m beginning to see in him my own past experiences, so perhaps he’ll join me on a lengthy ride like your brother joined you.

                Contrary to my isolating behavior, your expression has reminded me we’re all so similar, and for the first time in years made me feel I strongly identify with someone. Thank you for sharing!

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        • Caleb April 6, 2013 at 5:11 am

          I’m happy to see you reply directly to Alan like that. Your response indicates to me that not only has your journey been parallel to what I’ve long been wanting to do with my own life, but you also share a desire to portray situations accurately. You have reinforced my fledgling interest in your project of which the creative effort I was already appreciating. I look forward to seeing the film when it’s finished. Keep it up!

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  • joe kurmaskie April 4, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    captain – maybe I read it wrong and Jon wasn’t being flippant. Maybe Jon will set me straight.

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  • Joe April 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Just amazing, wish I could make this tonight!

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  • joe kurmaskie April 4, 2013 at 11:59 pm

    longgone -I never got hassled by the police when on bike tour, anywhere in the country, but I wasn’t holding, hash, cocaine etc. – road was/still is the most powerful drug out there anyway.

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