My campsite (with the cows) at my friends’ ranch in Montana a couple of weeks ago…
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
You might say that I am an unusual person… I like to think outside the box to solve problems; I like to be creative in my solutions, especially in my efforts to make a difference in the world. I am flexible — and ok with being “uncomfortable” (meaning I don’t need the creature comforts of a “home” to get by). To wit: I truly love camping and sleeping outside in nature (I would do it every day if I could!) and I especially love traveling and helping families around the country one-on-one.
Connecting with families personally to discuss the issue of childhood Lead-poisoning prevention is very satisfying — especially when it means getting to know families, making new friends, seeing their homes (which puts me in a position of giving them better, more personalized advice) and meeting people all over the country; I cannot imagine a better (more meaningful) life! When I meet with a family one-on-one I know that the meeting (and the education I help provide) will not only impact them and help them to protect their children, but it will also have ripple effects in their communities, helping countless others. Yesterday – in a single day – I helped ten families (across two states!) with two small community events, and two one-on-one consultations. It’s exhausting but incredibly gratifying work.
I’d love to just stay on the road!
With CoViD-19 coloring the actions that everyone must take now, for myself and my children I would love to just stay on the road this year, continuing to help families across the United States. Due to their specific disabilities, my children cannot benefit from remote schooling – so it makes no sense to even try that – and staying home in Portland, Oregon with them (with no childcare) would drive me absolutely batty in a fairly short time frame! Staying on the road, I can continue to “life-school” my kids (covering every conceivable subject, but also experiencing new places and new people!), while also working and helping others in our travels.
What would it take to make that work?
Obviously, traveling in two cars like we are right now (a rental pickup truck and a little fiat with two kayaks on top!) is not really sustainable, longer-term; this arrangement was meant to be a “two-month-tour” of the United States, with a revolving cast of characters (driving to Boston and back again)! However, having the experience of traveling over the past 22 days, I do have a really solid sense now of what would make this scenario work really well for me (and for my kids) longer term — and it is not what I originally conceptualized over the past several years (yes, I have been wanting to do a Lead Safe Mama cross country tour for something like 6 or 7 years now, and it’s amazing to finally be doing it!) Prior to this experience (of the past three weeks), I had imagined that a souped-up camper van (like a custom Sprinter buildout) might be great for this — but now I realize that would actually not be ideal.
Since we have been comfortably sleeping in our tents (in all manner of weather!) and a rare hotel (just about 5 nights total in hotels so far as of today, the 22nd day of this journey), along with several nights of hospitality in homes owned by friends (cabins, summer homes, etc.), I realize that we don’t need a “camper” van where we could sleep (especially when decent camper vans or camper trailers start at about $60,000 — and custom builds can cost another $60,000 on top of that!), but that the efficiency of our trip would be increased significantly with a utility-style truck (featuring a “service body” — with storage compartments inside and out), where we can organize and store our supplies (both work supplies and personal luggage), in a way that we don’t have to pack and repack the vehicles [and constantly make sure our things are securely tied down with straps and bungie cords and protected from the weather] with every stop and with every campsite!
I asked my husband to look into service body utility van builds, and he came up with some great links for me! I looked through all of the vehicles he found, and I have chosen three good examples from the links he sent me to share with you in the images below. Each is a brand new vehicle, and the price I added to the image is the price provided by the dealer. The one that I like the best is mid-to-low-range (as far as price goes), and also has a back-up camera (and it looks like the seats are really comfortable too!) That vehicle – or something like it – would make the perfect Lead-Safe-Mama-Mobile for continued (ongoing, until the end of CoViD-19) cross-country travel, doing socially-distanced small community events and helping families [also socially-distanced, of course – as we have been doing]!
“Ok, Tamara – so get a van already!”
I’d love to jump right ahead and purchase one of these vans, but as you may know (if you have followed my work for any amount of time) my financial resources are still very slim (I have a great deal of debt related to my ongoing legal battle.) [Read more about my legal battle here on this link if you are not familiar with it… I am currently suing the State of Oregon in Federal Court for multiple counts of Civil Rights violations against me.] The costs related to my legal battle (defending my advocacy work against false accusations) has also left me with a terrible credit score – so I am not able to purchase something like this on credit — although my business, Lead Safe Mama, LLC is finally earning enough that we could make payments on a vehicle like this, out of income generated by continued work made possible from having a vehicle – were we able to get a loan! [Had none of the past four years happened, I would easily be in a position to purchase one of these on my own – but that’s just not the case.]
So… in typical Tamara fashion, I decided to put this out to the world! A “request” of sorts: I would love – by some miracle – to make it possible to purchase a van like the ones pictured below — ideally, the one in the third image down (that is the one that is $38,595 new, and is located in Arizona). If I could somehow coordinate a loan to my business (or a grant?) I could even shift gears for my current trip, and drive to Arizona to pick it up (and return my current rental truck). [I am writing this at 2:00 in the morning – as all of our gear in the back of the rental truck is getting hammered in a summer Wisconsin rainstorm! And even though the gear is in “waterproof” containers, it would be ever so much better to not have to take the time after a rain storm to drain all the extra water everywhere and double check that everything inside every one of the bins actually stayed dry!] So if you have any ideas to help make this “Lead Safe Mama Mobile” dream happen, please let me know.
Some ideas that could work:
- A business advertising sponsor on my website: the header spot on the website is available (where the Amazon link to water bottles is right now) – and if a corporate sponsor were to take that place for a full year, the sponsorship fee would cover the cost of the van! [Plus, I could throw in a bonus of some logo-recognition on any branding wrap that we ad to the van!]
- Lining up a handful (6 or 8?) of paid speaking gigs with advance payment (for sometime in the coming year).
- Selling my family’s honey farm land (with organic gardens and a self-sufficient / off-grid water source!) in Napa County California (do you know someone who might want to buy a 4.5 acre piece of prime commercial real estate in Napa Valley? I am 25% owner and we re-listed the property in April and – given the pandemic – have not found a buyer!)
- Selling my 25% interest in my family’s honey business (which I would happily do at a “deep discount” right now to move forward with my Lead Safe Mama plans more quickly!) [The land is for sale separately from the business.]
- A business loan from a friend or reader [interest-free or low-interest!]
- A grant [from a granting organization that makes grants to businesses that are not affiliated with nonprofits]?
Thank you in advance for any ideas or leads you may have that could help to make this miracle possible!