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Anthony Hill: Family Trivia Van Tour

ROAR: First of all, your a quiz master!? How does one become such a master?

Anthony: Yeah, I get that question pretty much every time someone asks me what I do. It’s such an aggrandising title as I guess any title with the word master in it seems to be. 

I actually just fell into the role as quizmaster at a pub I was running in Bergen, Norway. There were no pub trivia nights in the city (or country that I later found out) so we started one up and after our first quizmaster quit, I was it, as no one else wanted to do it. I’ve always been a bit of a showoff - so here was a chance to act the goat on a weekly basis in front of a captive audience. Making the quizzes was the hard part - you have to include a bit of everything whilst not making it too difficult for the average punter. I think that’s where a lot of quizmasters go wrong. When the questions are far too hard, people are not having fun and maybe feel a bit dumb. I also chucked in a bunch of other little side-competitions to spice it up a bit. I ended up also doing trivia shows for private parties, student groups, corporate events, TV and radio - it’s been a pretty wild ride. That was 20 years ago and I must say, it’s been a pretty fun way of earning a living.

ROAR: You have chosen to use your creativity and energy to connect with communities and raise awareness about plastic pollution. Tell us how you achieve this.

Anthony: I attended an international conference on marine debris in Oslo last year and it was agreed by the end of the conference that the biggest "problem about this problem" was that most people do not realise the extent to which plastics are now infesting our oceans, affecting marine life and ultimately us. Maybe if enough people became aware, we could affect change on an individual, community and legislative level. 

But people are being bombarded with doom and gloom 24/7 and this was yet another crisis that I was about to bring onto their radar. There’s a fair amount of apathy to environmental crises out there but I think this is partly due to this sheer bombardment by environmental groups and the media. I reckon that many people who also have their own day-to-day issues to contend with, end up just burying their head in the sand.

Around the same time last year, I attended a seminar on The Psychology of Activism by a very smart kiwi, a professor of Psychology from the University of Auckland called Niki Harre. Niki also wrote a book called Psychology for a Better World. Her main message is that if you want people to follow your cause and be activated, you have to find a fun way of getting your message across and engage them.

So a little light bulb went off in my head and the concept of "trivia nights around Australia to raise awareness about plastic in our oceans" was born. Aussies love their trivia, hopefully as much as they love their ocean so here was an opportunity to get lots of them in a room together, slam them about the plastic issue, have a bit of fun but most of all, learn about how we can combat the problem. 

I don’t want these nights to be about doom and gloom and they definitely aren’t. It’s mostly about solutions, tips, community projects and encouraging creative ways to use alternatives to plastic. I don’t want people to forget about the issue when I’ve left town so I usually spend over a week there trying to get initiatives started that will help build a non-plastic movement.

A big part of the tour is about going into schools, holding talks for the kids and suggesting projects that they can get behind. The kids are amazing - they’re really engaged, concerned, immediately understand the problem from top to bottom and are full of questions and ideas. I think it’s the kids engagement that drives me most.

ROAR: What bought about your choices to focus on the ocean and plastic pollution? What have been some highlights through your travels and connecting with communities?

Anthony: I talk about this at the trivia nights. It’s about love and I think we need people to fall in love with their natural environment. I’m an ocean lover. I think it began when as a baby, my mum took me baby-swimming in the ocean baths. I grew up in Coffs Harbour, was in nippers, had a surf mat, boogie board and eventually a surfboard. I also sailed, fished and was just always at the beach. I have an affinity for the ocean that is shared by many surfers and others. Having lived in Norway for a really long time, I didn’t get to surf so much but ended up kayaking on the fjords in summer. More and more I was picking up plastic floating around in this seemingly pristine part of the world. As a quizmaster I was always researching different topics so I decided to research plastic in the ocean. It was then that I found out about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (The North Pacific Gyre) - a rotating area of concentrated  plastic as big as NSW and one of 5 such patches in our oceans. Humans dump 4.6 million tonnes of rubbish into our oceans every year, up to 80% of which is plastic. Unlike other human waste, plastic doesn’t break down and disappear back into the web of life. It just breaks into smaller and smaller pieces becoming what is now termed micro plastic. Plastic also attracts other water borne contaminants like DDT, PCBs that stick onto it. It’s being ingested by creatures at every level on the food chain from Zooplankton to birds and large marine mammals. With us being at the top of the food chain, you can see what’s happening. Not to mention millions of creatures dying from entanglement. 

I couldn’t just sit on my hands and do nothing so this is the “something" that I can do.

Driving around Australia in a camper has always been a dream. This project has made it far better than I ever imagined. I originally thought that it would be surfing, sight-seeing and doing some trivia nights but the project itself has become the main thing, taking up 90% of my time. People are inviting me into their homes, not only for dinner or coffee but to stay (in some places for 2 weeks!) which has saved me uncountable bucks in campground fees. Talking and connecting with like-minded people and experiencing the engagement and concern from people of all ages many of who are already actively doing something about the issue is something that I never would’ve experienced on a simple road-trip. We’re also engaging public figures, politicians and creating solutions as we go. I highly recommend to anyone who’s thinking of an extended road trip to find a cause that they’re passionate about and just get out there and connect on the road.

I’ve enjoyed every trivia night so far (there’ve been 21 plus about 35 other events). Some have been well attended and others not so but in little Inverloch, South Gippsland over 200 people turned up which was just overwhelming and I reckon I was on a high for a week after that. But it’s funny when you ask about highlights, it’s like the whole thing is just one big highlight. It’s going so well that I’ll be spending about 2 weeks applying for funding and grants to continue as my money is fast running out.

ROAR: How can people get involved with what your doing and get initiatives happening in their community?

Anthony: If people would like to have a Family Trivia Night in their town or suburb, they can contact me and I’ll send them the info. I have everything they need, they just need to have the passion and energy. This will also lead to them initiating other projects in their community that will hopefully last forever. People can also join or support other groups like Surfrider Foundation or The Australian Marine Debris Initiative and get involved with other likeminded people. Or, just simply start picking up plastic whenever and wherever they are and lets start a movement where it’s cool and admired to clean up your environment.

ROAR: Your life sounds very adventurous which inspires us! What do you love most about getting on the road and exploring new places?

Anthony: It’s funny, I’m a very social person but I also love being alone for long periods. Being alone on the road or in nature whether it’s the beach or the mountains has become really important for thought and reflection. But not only that, in nature there are no distractions, no expectations - it just “is" and you can just "be”. It can also be inspirational and bring on lots of crazy ideas. Some of these ideas I’ve used, some I haven’t but half the fun is dreaming them up. Living on the edge financially is also part of the fun - you’ve gotta be very careful with your shopping and creative with your cooking, maybe go without a meal sometimes which is actually good for you. I’ve found that having few or no expectations seems to be the key to personal fulfilment - just moving organically on this journey and seeing where it goes.

ROAR: What are you most excited about in 2015?

Anthony: As well as trying to get funding, I’ll be changing the concept slightly towards the end of the year so stay tuned for more info about that. It’ll be exciting to see how it goes. I’ll be moving the tour to Qld until it warms up a bit in Vic so, heads up everyone for some Family Trivia Nights on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane Aug, Sept, Oct!  Then back to continue the tour of Victoria on the Surf Coast and Melbourne area from November. If anyone would like to get involved in Qld or Vic, just email or contact me on Facebook (The Family Trivia Tour).

Best regards,
Anthony Hill
The Family Trivia Tour - Saving Oceans from Plastic Pollution
Mobile: (+61) 0403 755 803
Website: www.triviatour.quizwest.no
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/familytriviatour?ref_type=bookmark

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Tiny House Tiny Footprint

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ROAR: Hey Kathleen & Greg, we love all your pics and the name 'Tiny house Tiny footprint' and want to share your story. What's the background that got you to here?

Tiny House: If you would have asked my 27-year-old self (I’m 29 now) where I would be living in the next year or two, I most likely would have told you that it would be in an apartment in a city somewhere. At the time, I didn’t know of anyone my age that was living small.

Almost two years ago, I met Greg and we felt (like most couples do in the honeymoon phase) that we wanted to spend as much time as possible together. Within a few months of dating, he moved into my two-bedroom apartment in the city. When our lease was coming to an end in the fall, we started to talk what types of homes and where we wanted to live next.

Greg had lived in a van with a friend in New Zealand eight years ago. And even though quite some time had elapsed, he always had exciting stories from his adventures living in 50 square feet. We started to talk about what our life together would be like in a smaller space. I wasn’t so convinced I could adapt to the tiny lifestyle as easily as Greg could. After all, he had done it before and I was used to living in houses and apartments. At the time, I only had a handful of camping trips under my belt and was quite timid to take on new adventures.

As a compromise for not ‘living in a van small,’ Greg and I started to look at camper trailers on Craigslist. When we stepped inside a 1969 Terry camper trailer (140 square feet), we both got excited and made the purchase.

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Finding land wasn’t as simple. After encountering dead ends on Craigslist and other similar sites, we got desperate. We started to ask friends and coworkers, but nobody had any leads. We ended up contacting people on Airbnb and asking if they would be open to renting out their land instead of their houses. Quite surprising to us, this worked in our favor. We got a few offers and ended up choosing a family that had a beautiful backyard near open space.

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Currently, we have access to their electricity and WiFi, but we use our own gallons of water. I chose the name, “Tiny House, Tiny Footprint” because the camper trailer is acting as our tiny house and we reduced our environmental footprint by downsizing and becoming more conscious of our water supply.

ROAR: We get asked a lot how we fund our adventures and living in a van which we reply work haha. How do you guys do it and what do you do?

Tiny House: Greg and I both work full-time jobs that require us to be in one location 40 hours a week. I am a communications professional and Greg is a landscape architect. We would love to live on the road, but currently our jobs will not support that kind of lifestyle. Instead, we take micro trips on the weekends and explore locally during weeknights. Our goal is to save up enough money to be able to take longer trips and to take our professions on the road.

ROAR: Tell us some funny stories about the challenges of living in tiny spaces as we know from personal experience there is a lot hah!

Oh man! We can’t pretend like the first few months weren’t the hardest in our relationship.

Greg and I went from 1,000 square feet to 140. When we first moved in, we bumped into each other all the time and had to learn when to give the other person space. When we had disagreements, anger would quickly fill our tiny home and it would become a toxic place to live in. We had no choice but to learn how to control our emotions and talk things out right away.

Greg and I have a full-sized fridge that we use, but it is located outside the camper trailer. We use the inside fridge as a storage container instead.

In the beginning, we often got lazy and would skip meals because we didn’t want to go outside. Often times we would go out to eat and bring home leftovers just to have something easy to eat the next day. It took some time to adapt to cooking in a small space and figuring out the best items to purchase at the store.

October in Colorado can be cold at night and the camper trailer wasn’t properly insulated to handle the harsh weather. Greg had to work fast to create insulation blocks covered in radiant barrier to stick into our windows to block out the cold air. Unfortunately, the process took some time and we had to bundle up to sleep at night, enduring a few cold nights and mornings.

Water has been our biggest challenge. Since we are not connected to a hose, we shower at the gym instead. It can be frustrating having to unpack and pack a bag daily with our work clothes, head to the gym to shower and get ready there.

We have to pour soap on our dishes and heat up water in an electric kettle before we can start washing dishes, which in turn can be a slow process. Every 2-3 weeks, we have to take our laundry to a Laundromat or a friend’s house.

ROAR:  We have many of those same issues haha. What are the highlights and why do you keep living this lifestyle?

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One of my favourite memories was a cold night in November when our electricity went out. We were using an electric heater to stay warm and when that shut off, we got cold really fast. Greg quickly turned on our propane and within minutes, we were toasty again. I turned to Greg and said, “We’re officially living off the grid!” To which he said, “Isn’t it great?” I think it was at that moment that we knew that we could live anywhere together.

We have had some amazing opportunities since living this lifestyle. The people in the tiny house movement are some of the best we have ever met. They are genuine people who enjoy exploring new places and adventuring. They are intoxicating to be around.

During the first few months living in the camper trailer, I saw this project as temporary and looked forward to living somewhere else. Now (after nine months), I can’t imagine living in anything larger. Since we are not tied to our home or possessions, we find it easy to go on more adventures outside. When choosing between staying in a hotel or sleeping in a tent, we always chose the latter.

ROAR: We love the idea of your new blog sharing stories tell us all about it?

Last month, we were featured on one of our favorite blogs, Nurturing Soul: Home is Where You Park It series. That opportunity helped us connect with some amazing people in the tiny house movement and we wanted to highlight some of them. Since I am a journalist in my profession, I would much rather hear others’ stories than talk about myself.

In my Roll with Me blog series, I will feature several types of tiny homes (vans, camper trailers, Airstreams, tiny houses) and give people a snapshot of what it’s like. Everyone has a different story and I’m hoping to share as many as I can.

ROAR: What's next for you guys?

Greg and I have a lot of options, which feels good and daunting at the same time! We would love to either save up our money to buy our own land or hit the road in a smaller vehicle.

Finding land has been difficult as it is almost always more expensive than buying a house. Down payments for raw land can range from 20-50%. We would love to find a tiny house village that we could stay at so that we could avoid high costs.

We are finding that the camper trailer makes a great home, but it is too large for long trips. We could easily live out of a car or a van if we could work on the road.

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Website: tinyhousetinyfootprint.com

Instagram: @tinyhousetinyfootprint

Facebook: @tinyhousefootprint

Twitter: @tinyhousetiny

Pinterest: @tinyhousetiny

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Ali Husain: Husaak Adventures

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Ali Husain: Husaak Adventures


My name is Ali Husain, I am from Kuwait, but I have been living all over the world. I left the Middle East when I was 17 years old and since then I lived in Colorado, Austria, Alaska, the Arctic, Abu Dhabi and the Sultanate of Oman. This might seem like a lot of places for someone who is 33 years old but I am in the oil exploration business and oil happens to be in remote places all over the world.

I have always loved the outdoors, and living around mountains. When I finally moved back to the region I was shocked not because things had changed but because after living abroad I now had a different prospective on life. 

I saw a challenge in the society, kids running around with no goals, money being thrown every where just to keep people satisfied, obesity, health problems, drugs, crimes started to happen because of young people with no goals in life and so on .. This was in every forum and is a challenge in the society, I saw it as an opportunity to help fix things. Give young people goals and they will change. 

I am a believer that nature is a great place for people to find themselves. Nature and adventure challenges that is, not just nature on it's own. The outdoors here are pretty much untouched, there are rugged mountains and beautiful lush wadis (valleys) but everyone seems too busy chasing money in the city. So I started this campaign through my instagram posting pics of beautiful places from Oman and slowly attracting young people to join my trips. In 2013, I had 19 people joining my trips, in 2014 I had close to 250 people, in 2015 now I am already close to 200 in the first quarter, so its growing. I am now looking at more international locations such as Alaska, the Arctic, Tanzania, Mongolia, which are all places I have done private expeditions in. 
Anyway, that's pretty much the story. Other than that, I have a normal life with a wife and 3  beautiful children kids. Oh and I manage one of Abu Dhabi's largest off shore oil fields which produces about 400 thousands bbls/day, when I am not on a rock somewhere, that's the boring stuff. 

Thank you so much for sharing and inspiring us Ali! Readers can also follow and get involved with adventures through his website www.husaak.com

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