These spiritual exercises are designed to give your soul a break from motor mania and awaken the nascent spirit of the post-oil era.

  • Take your soul off the road - go without motorized transportation for a day or more a week.
  • Remain earthbound - no flying for a year.
  • Take the hundred mile holiday - vacation no further than 100 miles from your home.
  • Share a car among households.
  • Bike as though you were riding the road to heaven - human energy is the alternative energy.
  • Each time you walk out your front door pray: "Grant me the grace to go slow."
  • Ply your imagination. Come up with your own experiments.

De-motion: A digest of the post-oil era

Here's what people are doing to de-motorize their lives. Tell us about your own experiment (demotorize [at] geezmagazine.org). Don't forget to include something about the spiritual dimension of your action.

The point is not to boast but simply to share ideas about gas-free spiritual exercises, and to celebrate a new and slower kind of normal. Other people talk freely about the trips they take and the miles they travel, so we can be free to talk about the miles we don't travel.

The story of a bike
Anna Weier
Winnipeg, MB
July 24, 2007

Usually I am really proud to be part of a worker owned bike shop. We try to make sure people have as much information as possible when making decisions about what bike to purchase or what to get done on their bikes. We sell a lot of used parts and we recycle the metal we can no longer use. In the past we recycled all of our tires and tubes, but when we could no longer recycle them, we started to do a better job of re-using them. In fact, we made ourselves some couches using old bicycle tubes as upholstery. For these reasons I have felt good about our company, until the other day.

This spring we started having trouble getting the distributor of one of our major brands of tires to fill our orders. Eventually we found out the problem was because the factory workers had gone on strike. The delays continued because all of the factory workers had been fired and the new workers were not yet trained to the point where they could produce as many tires as the old workers.

I guess this isn't necessarily a surprising story, but it surprised me nonetheless because it made me realize that I had gotten to a point where I had stopped evaluating and questioning the decisions that I was making as an individual and as a member of a business. As such, I was not taking responsibility or even acknowledging the consequences of my actions. How can a bike help me to demotorize my own soul if the creation of that bike entraps someone else's?

I guess I could end it there, but perhaps the bigger question is what will I now do with the information that I have? As a company we have stopped carrying the tires in question and we have begun talking more about obtaining products that result in a more socially and environmentally responsible bike. As an individual I have been encouraging myself to think longer and harder about my own bike and whether or not I truly need to buy new parts for it. I am also trying to think more about my lifestyle and the decisions that I can make to truly demotorize my soul instead of the decisions that I can make that make it appear that I am demotorizing my soul and for me that means asking a lot of questions and truly looking at the life cycle costs of all the decisions that I make.

I feel that it is important to know not only the the amount and kind of energy that I use for my means of transportation, but also all the energy that goes into manufacturing, transporting and disposing of a product and also the labour practices involved. I need to know the story of my bicycle, not just the story of how much I love to ride it, but the story of how it came to be a bike and the story of what will happen to it when it is no longer a bike because those parts of the story are also my responsibility.

The tender side of demotorize
Will Braun
Winnipeg, MB
July 3, 2007

We heard you couldn't walk your newborn baby out the hospital door unless he or she was in a car seat. This was a concern as our plans for a home birth hit an obstacle and we ended up in a hospital. The car seat rule seemed dumb to my wife and I, who don't have a car and aren't big fans of car culture.

We found out the car seat rule is just a preference not a regulation, and thus avoided an awkward confrontation with the medical establishment. Anyway, the sun was shining and the breeze was just right, so I walked the little guy the two-plus miles home from the hospital. It was great. Just the two of us – slowly, calmly walking into the world. He'll end up in a car sooner or later, but I didn't want to motorized the guy's tender little soul so early on.

Do nothing day
Michael Christensen
The Minus Car Project
Sioux Falls, SD
June 18, 2007

The preacher man quoted theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel, "the Sabbath gives the world the energy it needs to go for another six days." He took "the world" and applied it to people and their need to rest; to have a Sabbath.

The preacher man causes me wonder how badly the earth needs the world to practice the Sabbath. My inner environmentalist who unabashedly thinks about the earth and its needs says to my inner Christian, "if you did that Sabbath thing, you know, like Jesus says you should, that would make the earth really happy."

I remember when my sister and I won our anti-Sabbath battle 25-ish years ago. The last household Sabbath rule, thou shalt not shop on Sunday, fell. I shopped and my parents no doubt trusted that some things can't be taught, they must be experienced.

I'm experiencing it now. Talk about a month of Sunday's; I'm in debt to God and the Earth almost four years worth of Sabbath.

Work. Expending calories. The Family gets into the car and goes to church on Sunday and 31,000 calories are burned for the round trip. It's enough calories to sustain a healthy adult for more than two weeks. 31,000 calories is 155 bowls of rice. 31,000 calories is 563 apples.

31,000 calories literally sucked from the earth.

Is the lesson then, don't go to church? I think the lesson is the Sabbath is much more than church.

I'm learning again how to practice Sabbath.

Ped dispenser

John Francis, a 'planetwalker' who lived car-free and silent for 17 years, chats with Grist

Read the rest of the article here.


Do not park bicycles
The Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba
Brandon, Manitoba
May 8, 2007

When you step out of a motorized vehicle and stand still for a moment, it becomes easier to notice that a portion of our population is getting around by some means other than in cars. People are choosing not to use cars because of ethical, environmental, and financial concerns. Sometimes the choice is optional and sometimes it isn't. The bicycle provides one form of alternative transportation as an efficient machine that can change our perspective of the world in so many ways. Featuring artwork by First Nations and Metis artists America Meredith, Dylan Miner, Tania Willard, Terri Saul, and Yatika Fields, "Do Not Park Bicycles!" is here to redirect people's ideas away from the supposed norms of culture and towards its margins in order to reexamine what we think we know about the nature of bicycle culture and Aboriginal identity in Brandon and on the larger scene.

On Saturday, May 26th, bring your bike down to the gallery for an afternoon of fun. Get tips on bike maintenance and decorate your bike for a group ride through the streets of Brandon . Later in the evening drive your bike in for a mini film festival on bicycles and the people who love them. A train ride will be organized to bring bike enthusiasts in from Winnipeg for the weekend. Those interested should sign up at mbbiketrain@gmail.com.

The main exhibit opens on Thursday May 3rd at 7:30.

Find out more about this unique art exhibit here.

Ski goggles
Sue Jones
April 24, 2007

I simply feel closer to the rest of the universe on a bicycle. I think about how much carnage happens from cars and why people have to get so defensive.

And oh, my, the feeling of freedom riding past gas stations and parking meters, even if my little car is sitting in my garage for use on those days when it's six below zero and I"m not sure ski goggles will do the trick.

One car goal
Esther Wendel-Caraher
St. Thomas, Ontario
March 20, 2007

Inspired by the De-MotorizeYour Soul campaign, I decided to walk to work the next day. I had a wonderful walk, an energy filled day and my kids were excited to get in on it too. It is my goal to be a one-car family within a year.

A friendly walk
Gretchen Cole
Westchester, Pennsylvania
January 22, 2007

When I have to run errands in the town I live in, because it's walkable, I walk (most of the time). And I pray (most of the time) that I will be ready for whoever I meet, and that I will meet people to whom I can be encouraging. And (most of the time) I do end up meeting people, because it's a small town, a walkable town, a town where people are on the streets walking because they can or because they have to. And I don't know whether I encourage them or not, but it makes me happy to walk along and see my friends on the way to my errands. And it's so much more fun than gliding through my home town in an insulated metal and glass bubble and maybe seeing people on the street but not being able to speak to them. It's a modest proposal, but I guess it's a start.

A day in the life of a mad cyclist
Gareth Brandt
Abbotsford, British Columbia
January 22, 2007

Yesterday was the absolute worst cycling commute to work I have had in six and a half years of living in British Columbia! I have biked in various extreme conditions: torrential downpours, high winds, falling snow and icy streets but remind me never to set out when it is plus two with a mixture of snow and rain coming down on a layer of snow and rain already there.

In the morning as I looked outside into the wet and dreary darkness of the pre-dawn and began to whine about the conditions my wife actually had the audacity to laugh at me for my cowardice. And so I consoled myself as I often do, "I guess it's not that bad once I get out there; people in Winnipeg bike in a lot worse conditions." So I set out with determination.

After about a kilometer of tenacious pedaling a colleague waved cheerfully as he passed me in his car. I gritted my teeth wishing I had asked for a ride. And then a few kilometers further as I turned a corner I wiped out because of the greasy ice that was forming underneath the slush. I picked myself up off the slimy pavement with luckily only my arm and my pride in pain.

From then on I was on busier streets and each car that passed me mercilessly spewed forth a rich concoction of sand, salt and slush in my direction. My Gortex suit is like armor but eventually even it surrendered to the barrage of slush that began oozing up and down my left side. My gears began to be clogged by the freezing slush so that my chain constantly slipped, turning my usual rhythmic pedaling into a vicious staccato. I was not happy. And to top it all off, the man at the bus stop who usually ignores me when I greet him upon passing, sneered visibly at my misery as I limped by.

In the past I have cycled in great self-righteousness.

  • I am reducing green-house gasses and saving the planet and halting the ominous onslaught of global warming. In fact if all of us were biking we wouldn't be having all this strange weather in the first place!

  • I am stopping the war in Iraq because I am reducing our dependence on foreign oil imports.

  • I am keeping my body in good health by getting an hour of cardiovascular exercise every day.

  • I am saving ten dollars a day on fuel and the cost of another car and can instead spend that money on more worthy things like going on a family vacation or feeding the hungry.

  • I am slowing down my life by becoming more in tune with my surroundings and my body and spirit. And on and on I could pontificate about the benefits of cycling to work.

All this did not matter yesterday morning as I cursed my own stupidity and stubbornness, my wife for laughing, my colleague for waving, each passing slush-spewing motorist, my bike for freezing up, the meteorologist who forecasted this mess and God who is ultimately to blame for everything.

The rain and snow turned to rain only by day's end so I decided I would brave the commute home rather than bedding down in my office as I had initially surmised. After hearing about my ordeal, another colleague did feel great sympathy and offered me a ride home, but I refused just to prove to myself that it was an isolated experience. I could not let the elements defeat my high principles. If it was not for the world, I had to do it for myself at least!

The cycle home was wet but routine. My heart felt light after the heaviness of the morning. As I approached the intersection where I had wiped out in the morning I decided to symbolically spit on the very spot in victorious defiance of the elements.

Just as I was about to launch a mighty "arch de triumph" toward the cursed street a car rolled through the intersection oblivious to my presence in the midst of my sacred moment. Were it not for my blood-curdling yell and the straight arm tactic honed in the cow pasture football games of western Manitoba, that car would have made me the latest item on the menu of some "Road-kill Cafe." When the poor woman driving the car came to from the shock of seeing my hand and open mouth so close to her windshield, she finally slammed on the brakes to avoid me by mere inches.

Oh the joys of cycling to work! This morning, with the previous day now a muddled memory, as I peered through the cracks of the Venetian louvers I was soothed by the predictable drizzle of a more typical west coast winter morning.

Ahhh! The delectable beauty of this damp grayness unmatched by any clear prairie sunrise! I set out with new hope for a routine ride to work and I was not disappointed. Although climate change and the war in Iraq continue, at least my life of cycling to work was as it should be. The man at the bus stop did not even acknowledge my existence!

YES! Magazine highlights Demotor
December 20, 2006

"They offered to fly me but I said I'd bike instead" Read the full article here.

Flying on holiday 'a sin', says bishop
Becky Barrow
The Daily Mail
December 20, 2006

Flying abroad for a foreign holiday is "a sin" against the planet, one of the country's leading bishops has declared.

Like murder, adultery and stealing, choosing to travel on jet planes has moral consequences, according to the Bishop of London because flights are doing too much damage to the environment.

In a highly controversial statement, Richard Chartres, 59 - who admits to regular visits to Russia - urged Christians to stop taking endless flights and to live a more 'eco-friendly' lifestyle.

Read the rest of the article here.

Morning meditation
Pamela Brown
Campbellford, Ontario
November 15, 2006

Date: June 13, 2006
Time: 30 mins, 42 seconds
Average speed: 23.0 kmh
Max speed: 47 kmh
Distance: 11.25 km
Notes: hot, turtles laying eggs, no wind

Last year Michael bought me an odometer for my bicycle and I started keeping a log of my morning rides. My rides, always around the same four roads, have become moving meditations for me.

I used to fight the first hill, until one day I realized it was a metaphor for a challenge I was facing and fighting elsewhere in my life. Now I take the hill with patience and perseverance, pacing myself and having faith in my strength.

Then with the hill behind me, I wave to the cows. In the growing mythology of my morning ride, I consider it good energy to greet the cows. I have this sense that for cows, courtesy is important.

About halfway there are three dogs who live in a big doghouse. They used to bark at me but over time have become accustomed to me (unless I ring my bell, which gets a rise out of them). And then there's Cujo at the top of the last hill. I've never seen this dog, only heard his slathering heavy-footed charge from beyond the hedge. My resulting burst of adrenalin always gets me over the top of the hill.

Every morning sky is a masterpiece. No matter how hot it is, countryside air has a freshness at the beginning of the day, as the low mist hangs in the fields amidst a zillion shades of green. The beauty of it fills my soul with joy. No matter how grumpy or stressed I am when I start my ride, by the last hill I feel ready for anything; ready to live another blessed day.

Ron Janzen
Steinbach, Manitoba
November 14, 2006

"Oil illustrates that the Holy Trinity is still a viable concept", writes John Ralston Saul in The Doubter's Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense. "After all", he says, "oil is a commodity we consume on our way to buy more while driving on a petroleum based surface".

Recently I took Earthday's ecological footprint quiz and was dismayed to discover that, if the rest of earth's population lived as I do, it would require 4.4 planets to sustain us all. No doubt part of the equation is the four licensed vehicles in our five person family.

But it's so easy to rationalize. Three of the vehicles support jobs where vehicles are a condition of employment. The jobs are community building jobs in public education and healthcare. The fourth vehicle is a 31 year old RV that drives about 500 kilometers a year to local festivals and provincial parks and has made some great family memories. Vehicle mileage that's not work related is mostly for University commutes, Church and community voluntary service, visiting elderly parents, air travel to MCC and Ten Thousand Villages Board meetings and chasing our kids around to numerable choir, drama and band concerts.

I don't usually see my modern lifestyle as "connected to others' misery". I focus on my obligation to leverage the benefits of my lifestyle in service and community building. Sort of like Robb Davis noting the contradiction of requiring 150,000 miles of air travel a year to support his work with MCC while his family makes a lifestyle decision to give up their automobile. But geez Will, I can't get your comments out of my head. They keep buzzing around me, like the wasps in Steinbach this summer. I'm convicted, like a felon on the lamb.

But "the time for guilt is over", as Will says, and I tried commuting to work for two weeks. A 15KM commute one way, down a rural highway with no shoulder and choked with commuter traffic that includes semi-trailers, school buses, farm implements, mini-vans and a steady stream of "hog haulers" (the smell of money don't you know. . . .). It was a life risking adventure, twice a day for 30 minutes. I was completely unprepared for how complex it became. Reorganizing my meeting schedules so everyone could come to me, figuring out how to have 10 days worth of clean pressed shirts and ties at the office, bird bathing in the men's washroom sink, dressing appropriately for the cold and fog of the morning commute and the heat and wind of the afternoon commute and on and on. It was indeed an experiment with truth. The real truth being that there's nothing simple about simplifying your lifestyle.

Don't get me wrong, I'm deeply impressed with the likes of Will Braun and others who call us to more responsible living. I think they fill a much needed theological void in our constituency and may even help to ultimately develop an Anabaptist hermeneutic for environmentalism and stewardship. I'm also in love with the bicycle. With the encouragement of "Jac" the Steinbach cycling evangelist, I started cycling three years ago. After three summers and more than 12,000 KM's, I'm practically obsessed with riding. If there was any practical way to commute to work, I would figure it out. Forget even the lifestyle ethics; I'd just love to do it. But what I can do for the community at my present job vastly outweighs what I could do for the community at my previous job, even though I then walked to the office.

So, Will, I respectfully make the observation that the bicycle may be saving your soul, but that's for you. Personally, I don't think you change the world one bicycle at a time. Things are much more complex than that. A regular bicycle ride is not the panacea for life's problems that hard core cyclists like to make it out to be. I can cover 160 km's on my bike in just over 5 hours. That's not a boast, it's more of an astounded observation. But I still can't climb the basement stairs without being out of breath and my blood pressure is still too high. But of course it's more complex than that and has a lot to do with my individual physiology. Just as Will's journey with a simpler lifestyle may have a lot to do with his individual spirituality.

I guess my point is that, from my perspective, the thousands of KM's I've logged on the bicycle haven't made the world or even my health, quantifiably better. And I think I've given it a serious enough try to say that with some integrity.

But it also doesn't matter much to me. I've gained a new passion and purpose in my life, a new social circle with all types, classes, and faiths of persons brought together on a weekly basis with the singular focus of a good bike ride. We've shared each other's joys and sorrows these last three years. We've talked through career changes, marriage difficulties, parenting challenges, business challenges and plenty of politics. It's great fellowship. But then, that's exactly what my Brother In-law says about his hobby and passion, car racing. And he might even burn less fuel than I do because he and his wife drive hybrid gas/electric cars for their commuting vehicles.

I don't know, I'm a long ways from aligning an environmentally responsible life with my spirituality. It will take at least a few thousand more happy kilometers on my bicycle to figure that out. In the meantime, I just wish that buzzing sound around my head would stop. . . .

Grace to go slow
Geez Magazine
November 8, 2006

De-Motorize Your Soul is featured in the current issue of This Magazine. Toronto-based, This Magazine is one of Canada's premiere and longest-publishing alternative journals.

Cars, god
Steve Smith
Montreal, Quebec
November 6, 2006

My first car was a Hearse, a Cadillac Hearse. Those were the days. A stock 429ci four-barrell , 340 hp beauty with about 500 lbs/feet of tourque at a low 3200 rpm. I got one more car after that. But it just wasn't the same...

Haven't had one since. I take the bike everywhere. I built and distributed a whole pile of bikes in Mozambique. A 150 "camponesas" (women farmers) got to take a load off.

Anyways, get close to god, sell your goddamn car or pay 5 cents per litre more on your gas so Grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa can buy food, medication and clothing for the kids whose parents have died of AIDS.

Car to the corner store
Mike Nickerson
Lanark, Ontario
November 1, 2006

The following is an excerpt from "Life, Money & Illusion: Living on Earth as if We Want to Stay":

I Took My Car to the Corner Store to Get a Loaf of Bread

I took my car to the corner store,
to get a loaf of bread;
It turned out to be quite a trip,
when all was done and said.

First I took the doors along,
as they were first at hand;
A trip with each, my heart did pound,
the exercise was grand.

Next I took the hood and trunk,
they easily came undone;
The body posed a bigger task,
it could not be moved as one.

I'll not tell all, about the chore,
with torch and saw to render;
Suffice to say, when it was done,
I could carry every member.

But for the engine, I had to cheat,
its weight too much for me;
I brought a wagon to the task,
man powered, though, you see.

With fenders, gears and manifolds,
bumpers, clutch and brakes;
My heart and lungs were racing now,
a little rest I'd take.

Oh how I love my motor car,
its chrome and paint do shine;
The neighbours stare as we go by,
I'm so glad that it is mine.

The tires I choose to roll along,
a wonder is the wheel;
After axles, tranny and padded seats,
I was ready for my meal.

Alone, one man, but for his car,
the corner store's so handy;
I got the bread that I came for,
some cheese and also candy.

The joys of transport are so grand,
the world is there to roam;
I took my car to the corner store,
now I have to take it home.

We are faced today with an enormous challenge. Human beings fill the Earth, yet, our tradition is to grow more. We must change direction and pursue a new goal, a steady state relationship with our planet.

More details about "Life, Money & Illusion" and the Question of Direction program, for which it is written, can be found at: www.SustainWellBeing.net

Parking the car
Michael Tyas
Orangeville, Ontario
October 23, 2006

I'm flat broke and struggling with a large debt, and my car insurance was due. Had I paid, I would have sunk into more debt than I've ever been, completely undoing all the payments into my debt that I've made since the beginning of the year. I decided to park my car indefinitely today, the day my insurance was due, and have moved in to the town where I work to board with friends.

I'm going to bike wherever as much as possible until it snows (I live in Canada), and then I'm going to walk or take the bus. I bought some warm gloves and long johns and a bank robber winter mask to protect against the stinging freezing rain when I'm whizzing down a hill on my bicycle. I still have my leather bomber I got at Christmas last year to keep me nice and warm (and fashionable!). It's going to be tough, but in any one's life journey, you better be expecting a little off road adventure!

I'm actually excited at a new possibility; I've taken control of my life by giving up a freedom, and I'm well on my way to gaining another; financial freedom!

A song that sings my story: The Paperbacks
My Video Blog

Electrician quits commute
Leo Bahr
Tavistock, Ontario
October 10, 2006

I used to work as an electrician for a major auto parts company. My commute was 50 minutes one way (sometimes one and a half hours in the winter) and I would do this six or seven days a week. The pay was very good but the work sucked. They had good benefits but the mental drain and boredom was hard to take. The parts that were manufactured were for some of the most gas wasting vehicles made, including Hummers.

I could almost justify the travel when gas was around 65 cents per liter, but when it hit a dollar or more I was spending $150 to $175 on fuel per week. This meant I was working overtime to fuel the car.

So I decided to look for a different job closer to home, and found one I could walk to. This job does pay less, but the hours and atmosphere are better. Even with the less pay I have not noticed a big reduction in standard of living.

I actually found it difficult to get my head around the idea that I do not have to drive. I have more time to be with my wife and read articles such as the ones in your mag.

Thich Nhat Hanh calls for 'Global No Car Day'
October 4, 2006

Thich Nhat Hanh, the 80-yer-old Vietnamese Buddhist monk, author, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee is calling for a world-wide no car day. On October 7, he will bring his plan to a UNESCO (United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organization) meeting in Paris.

"I will propose," he writes on the Deer Park Monastery website, "that UNESCO organize action that will promote Global No Car Days. . . . I will [also] suggest that UNESCO itself, from the director to ambassadors and other members, try to live in such a way that the message becomes a true message; not just a call for action, but action itself. In our daily lives, we should each try to drive a car that doesn't pollute the environment, or ride a bicycle more often, or use public transportation. To this end I will suggest the creation of non-sectarian Training Centers in Mindful Living to help religious and community leaders, teachers, families and individuals find new ways to practice peace, nonviolence and compassion to our planet in their daily lives."

He is also calling for people to sign a petition of support which will be presented to UNESCO.

In order to do their part, the monks of Deer Park Monastery, who follow Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings have decided to adopt a weekly no car day. On Tuesdays they will avoid any car usage. Their goal is to cut their automobile use by half. The monks of Plum Village - the French monastery where Thich Nhat Hanh is base - have also adopted the weekly auto fast. As Thich Nhat Hanh writes "we try to use bio diesels. We try to bring the old car to the cemetery."

This was brought to our attention by Kenley Neufeld who is a lay member of the religious order of monks to which Thich Nhat Hanh belongs. He lives in Ojai, California.

Check the weather
Nicola Skinner
King City, Ontario
August 29, 2006

I have decided to cycle to, and around my new parish as often as possible. It is 15 km away and the round trip combined with some pastoral visits seems like a smart way to keep fit as well as keep my car off the road.

My first day entailed four home visits. The journey to work filled me with delight at the rolling countryside and grazing horses. Leaving for my second visit the heavens opened.

"Our farm is just on the road out of town" meant 8km uphill out of town. It rained all the way. I stayed there until the rain passed. At the end of their long drive the rains came again, and stopped when I arrived at the next house back in town.

When I left there the sun came out, but as I turned onto the main road for my final visit -voila! a downpour of monumental proportions. As I started to laugh maniacally to myself at the great (dripping) impression I was making on my new parishioners, I was passed by an 18-wheeler at some considerable speed and at a point in the road with no hard shoulder.

I recovered my equilibrium and pondered continuing with the final visit; I was covered from head to foot in mud and even the vents in my helmet were filled in. Nevertheless, I pressed on and spent an unusual hour drinking tea in a most elegant century farmhouse, wrapped in the towels of kind people who had never met me before.

Apparently my endurance endeared me to them all that day, but I've decided I prefer to make a cleaner, drier first impression. I won't stop riding my bike, but I will check the Weather Network first now. - Nicola Skinner is an Anglican priest in King City, Ontario

Travel clause
shane claiborne
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
September 16, 2006

We are taking baby steps to wean ourselves from the oil bottle. I share a car with 6 other people, and ride a bike every chance I get... and a unicycle when I'm feeling sassy. Among our friends here in Philly there are now half a dozen cars getting converted to run off veggie oil, and a handful of folks have now created an entire web of businesses that gladly give away their old oil.

One community of folks recovering from substance addictions has some skilled mechanics, and they are trying to open up a little Greaser Conversion Station, to convert diesels to veggie oil, make needed repairs, sell homemade biodiesel... And provide stable jobs for formerly homeless residents (newjerusalemnow.org).

I have been keeping my eye out for a diesel that we can convert to veggie oil, and I just found an old military ambulance for sale, a good prospect. We talk a lot about "practicing resurrection", and about turning things of death into things that bring life, the ole swords-into-plowshares deal. How about turning a military ambulance into a revolution greasermobile? We'll see.

Until then I find myself traveling a lot. It's a twisted world of strange opportunities-- when I could write some complicated books about simplicity. I could make a lot of money preaching a Gospel that says sell everything you have. I could fly all over the world talking about the post-oil era. Sick contradictions.

I found myself talking to groups of people in hotels about ending homelessness. I found myself talking about poverty over fancy dinners. Eventually it wears on your soul. Now I fast more, and sometimes I sleep outside those hotels.

I'm still figuring out the traveling piece, and I am thankful for the imagination of the demotorize campaign. I have now made a couple of more baby steps towards integrity. When people invite me to speak, I request a couple of things. Honorariums are negotiable, but these things are not.

I request to stay in a home, not a hotel. The assumption is that if a congregation cannot find a home to offer me hospitality, we are probably not ready to talk about community. I request to eat home-cooked dinners and not out at franchises and fast-food joints. And a handful of other things.

Now, thanks to the demotorize campaign, I have added one more detail.

"Creation Care: Being mindful of the impact that our hyper-mobile pace and fuel use have on Creation, and of the fragility of the current patterns of consumption that have led to wars over natural resources and the degradation of God's earth, Shane has a commitment to offset the ecological impact of his travel. There are two ways a group hosting Shane to speak can participate: either have a group of folks fast (go without) oil for a day the week Shane visits (a good guideline would be, at least one person go without fuel one day for every 100 miles Shane travels) -- this may mean something as simple as carpooling or biking to work or as imaginative as converting your car to run off used veggie oil (awip.us) - OR- (less exciting) you can add an additional $100 to the honorarium and Shane will donate that to a group dedicated to erasing the footprint his travel has on the environment. For more information on this, check out demotorize.org."

Keep me in your prayers demotorize family. And in this post-modern, post-Christian, post-pacifist, post-oil age...

May we feed each other hope and courage to live God's dream for Creation! -- shane claiborne (speaker, author, activist, and sinner)

Robb and Nancy Davis
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
August 1, 2006

So we (Nanc, Kara, Dylan and Robb) sold our car three years ago - just before the Iraq War started. Someone asked whether we were making a statement and we said not really. Our lives were too crowded, too fast, too populated with running in every direction, and we saw the car as the great enabler of all these things. We also felt that it was somehow linked to an overconsumptive lifestyle that seemed to be consuming us. So we sold it (hey we lived in Davis, CA and so that was easy).

Now we live in Lancaster, PA, a much less bike-friendly place. We have been here one year and it is working okay. Getting rid of the car changed the way we consume more than we could have imagined. The car is indeed the great enabler of hyper-consumption: "I want it, I need it, I can get in my car right now and go get it." Now we have to think about whether we really want it, really need it and then we have to do this whole planning thing about how to go and get it. Most times it just isn't worth the bother. Sure we can use the internet and sometimes we do but we realize that is cheating - just getting someone else to drive for us.

The point is, we are not too proud of all of this because I still fly about 150,000 miles per year and when we do drive we drive really far (like halfway across the US, though that is rare). However, getting rid of the car has made us spend more time with each other and we really need to do that. Getting rid of the car means we have meditation time when we are riding or walking to school or work. As I ride to work each day I have a full two hours to take in the beauty of farm and woodland, and to wrestle in prayer through the many questions I have for God about the way things are in the world.

For two months this past winter I could not (for various reasons) ride my bike. During those months my stress levels went up, my meditation time went down and I was no longer fun to be with.

We see our bikes and our feet as a kind of liberation, and we want others to share in that liberation. Sure, you have to change the way you live, but (just keep telling yourself), "change is good." We really mean it and we plan never to own a car again. We are lucky to be able to make this choice; not everyone can. But we do believe that many more people can make it than think they can and we hope they will try.

The Iraqi Ministry of Oil
Lisa Martens
Winnipeg, Manitoba
July 13, 2006

I was standing outside the Iraqi Ministry of Oil shortly after the US invasion in 2003. I was there for a prayer service with my colleagues from Christian Peacemaker Teams. On our way there we had passed burnt-out, looted buildings and unguarded piles of unexploded bombs. In the days before, we had gone to hospitals to visit civilians injured by explosions, and had documented civilian structures like radio towers and houses that had been bombed to smithereens. Amidst it all, the Ministry of Oil was in pristine condition - barbed-wired, and heavily guarded by U.S. troops.

Now, back home in North America, I bike to most of the places I go within my city. I still accept rides in cars, and am grateful for people at my church who are happy to let me borrow their motor vehicles. I take a taxi occasionally, and more often a bus. But mostly I bike. Its faster than walking, keeps me in shape and makes me feel strong. It puts fewer poisonous gases into the air, and allows me to transport myself without such great dependence on the "oil wars" my society depends on. I even bike in winter. Since I've never owned a car, biking feels normal to me.

When I bike, I sometimes think about friends I met during my four and a half months in Iraq. I think about the Lubicon Cree people who have oil wells and pipelines littering their territories and messing up their culture in northern Alberta. And I think about an earth that doesn't necessarily want to be drilled into for oil. Sometimes I imagine what it would look and feel like if thousands of people in my city decided to bike; I imagine how quiet and fun it would be. Here's hoping.

The MinusCar Project
Michael Christensen
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
July 13, 2006

One afternoon in 2005 I read an article about the imminent "tipping point" beyond which the earth will be committed to drastic climate change. It was like Tony Soprano punched me in the stomach saying "get your affairs in order kid."

Global warming, peak oil, national security, national addiction, high gas prices - what's the antidote to the end of the world? Tony left me trying to figure out where my faith - the faith that God loves me and will provide for my needs - had disappeared to. A few days later I found out. I was sitting in my home office listening to Napster, populating my Netflix queue, reading reassuring lefty articles online and basking in the glow of my perfectly matched wife, well behaved kids and above-average household income. I realized my faith had grown fat in the comfort of my American dream.

I was in rough shape. My doctor and a pastor offered me Prozac. But somehow "something else" offered me behavior change instead.

I committed myself to limiting as much as I could the number of miles I travel in my car. I knew I'd still need it sometimes, but I decided to maximize the number of times I would make use of alternative modes of transportation between May 25 (the final day of school) and September 5th (Labor Day). I utilized alternative transportation 104 times, I made use of my car as a single occupant 33 times and drove or rode in a multi-occupant vehicle 77 times. I was mildly happy with these numbers.

The MinusCar Project, as i called it, is a year old now. By walking, biking and waiting for buses, I've gone from 450 car miles per month to 150 miles. And a funny thing happened on the way to the bus stop - life became more interesting. Gone are the days of driving from garage to destination, destination to garage. My favorite is now Saturdays with my boys. We pack up a day's worth of necessities and head out on untethered adventures. We wander. We wait. We have tactile experiences. And we have them together. It's a very nice way to face the end of the worldeven if it isn't the end of the world.

Riding, walking and waiting gives me a physical reminder that God is the one who provides for me. It also gives me time to respond by listening, being thankful and letting God poke at the fat.

See http://minuscar.blogspot.com

Will Braun
Winnipeg, Manitoba
July 13, 2006

Part I: I couldn't believe how much environmentalists flitted about the continent on airplanes. And I was one of them. So I decided the next phase of my life would be different; I would give my conscience a break.

It's now been three and a half years since I've been airborne. I feel more at ease. I feel strengthened by a sense of connection with the billions who never fly. I feel more grounded. I can speak more clearly about climate chaos, peace and simplicity (though some static remains). Remaining grounded is my prayer for those who suffer the collateral damage of oil wars and development.

At times it has been difficult, but the inconvenience is nothing compared to the gratification of being able to say I haven't flown for three and a half years. (Several memorable long distance bicycle adventures have resulted as well.) I may fly again but it would feel decidedly abnormal.

Part II: A couple years after quitting the airplane I decided to try to go without any motorized transportation for Lent. It was tough but I made it. Since then I have kept a separate calendar on which I record the number of days per year on which I use motorized transportation. I am trying for less than 50 this year. That means lots of biking, working relatively close to home and gas-free recreation. It means health, peace of mind and lots of money saved. Life is more interesting this way.

The goal is not only to reduce my total use of fossil fuels but to de-normalize high-speed transportation in favor of a slower, saner sense of normal. I have a little prayer I say when I get on my bike. It reminds me to be converted by my pedaling.

In essence, it is about participation in God's love. Being out in the elements, using my body, joining the billions of car-less people, disconnecting from the Bush-Cheney-Haliburton-Exxon-Rumsfeld project all give my soul room to breathe.

If you have something for the De-motion Digest send it to demotorize [at] geezmagazine.org.