Eco-bus gives new meaning to green party
April 17, 2007 4:11 PM
Tired of living his life in 45-minute intervals, a Palo Alto science teacher quit his job and poured the little savings he had into converting a tired school bus into a mobile venue for children and adults.
Serving as a party venue by night, and a mobile classroom by day, Jens-Peter Jungclaussen, 37, said his school bus is a reflection of himself and his diverse interests – with a green message.
"The bus is a symbol of `I'm allowed to have fun, I'm educating, I'm mobile,'" German-born Jungclaussen said, from one of the long, padded benches inside the 40-foot-long bus. Parked outside a popular nightclub near Potrero Hill, Jungclaussen has a weekly nighttime gig here, where patrons of the club can come in and sit down, watch a movie, or listen to a DJ spin.
While mobile party venues are common, Jungclaussen´s one-man show runs on veggie oil and has modular interiors to suit various events.
Mark Bondi, 34, said that knowing Jungclaussen was parked at the club was his only motivation to come out. Having rented the bus for his own private party after attending a friend’s, Bondi said the draw is simple: "You can throw your own party and go wherever you want, and Peter is super cool."
The bus is called "DasFrachtgut," German for "the good freight," and has been used as a party bus, billboard and corporate meeting house, while occasionally hosting free educational field trips for inner-city school children. Connecting partying with an environmentally sound message is part of Jungclaussen´s plan, but he admits it is partly a monetary necessity.
The exterior paint job of the school bus has changed several times and the sleek and modern style of the bus interior does not suggest an alternative-fuel vehicle. This appearance is what Jungclaussen said often catches adults, and especially children, off guard, and engages them in conversation. They sometimes discover "it's not backwards to be green," Jungclaussen said.
Girlfriend Inke Noel, 36, calls the business Jungclaussen´s baby, even though the two share a real-life little one of their own. Noel doubles as Jungclaussen´s Web master and is looking to increase traffic to the Web site, meanwhile Jungclaussen said he has no idea how anyone finds out about his service.
But the phone rings more regularly since he staged a free screening of the World Cup Finals in Dolores Park last summer that was attended by thousands and was well covered by the press. It was a "great way to throw a legal party in the park," Jungclaussen said, adding that he thought the city deserved it.
Because of events like these, Jungclaussen said the bus has introduced him to organizations such as Friends of the Urban Forest, and the San Francisco MOMA, all of which increase his teaching ability. "The more you teach, the less connected you are," he said of the traditional school environment, which he said made him feel isolated.
Drawing from his own educational experience and love of adventure, the former pro-windsurfer said he wants to make the kids he teaches "investigators." Working regularly with another German school in San Francisco, Jungclaussen said an ideal classroom is outside the classroom –– exploring in the real world, while staying committed to the idea to not leave a footprint. From nature walks in Muir Woods to day trips in Golden Gate Park, Jungclaussen said his bus is the kind of "classroom presentation" that gives his students "a different motivation to do it."
Hoping to have a solar conversion of the bus in the near future, to run the projector and sound, Jungclaussen said he is always looking for financial support from those interested in his cause.
"The whole bus should be running off the good" he said. The ultimate goal is "to get the kids and have fun and learn a lot."
Describing grand dreams of having world leaders and "people who are opposed to each other conversing" and holding conferences around his mobile venue, Jungclaussen realizes it may be a far-off idea.
"And then," he joked, "I'm going to save the world!"
For more information visit www.teacherwiththebus.com.
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