“The free energy given to us by the Sun is trying to make humanity a success despite our overwhelming ignorance and fear”

-R. Buckminster Fuller: Critical Path (1981, St. Martin’s Press)



A journey through the history and currents of free education, counter-institutional movements and the economy of information in Silicon Valley + beyond.

Free Soil presents a bus tour, exhibition, outdoor film/video festival & on-site exchange in conjunction with the 2nd Biennial 01SJ Global Festival of Art on the Edge in San Jose, California. This tour takes inspiration from the spirit of counter cultural activities prevalent in this region in the late 1960’s, namely the activities of the Mid-Peninsula Free University, Homebrew Computer Club,draft-resisters and the back-to-landers. These prototypical models of alternative education formed in reaction to the growing influence of the military-industrial complex on American universities. Courses were taught on topics ranging from intentional communities and  sand-casting candles, to Maoist political theory , “To Be Gentle,” and "The Art of Giving Away Bread."

The local landscape will provide a campus for our roaming classroom. The bus will traverse the Santa Clara Valley using public facilities, nature preserves and back alleys to host projects by a wide range of practitioners. We will use this free campus to explore, discover and generate critical responses to the pressing issues that affect not only ourselves, but our whole round planet.

A Free Soil reader will be published alongside this project that looks at various forms of education as cultural production and creative resistance.

Join 30 artists, scientists, curators on a 1.5 day long journey that includes small walks, lectures, mini-workshops and other particpatory events. The Tour lasts 7 hours and includes lunch, drink and snacks.

Previous Bus Tour Links


Free Soil:

Amy Franceschini
Amy is a new media artist and educator. Her work is pervaded with images of growth-reminding us that both nature and our own creative natures are precious commodities that must be nurtured and sustained whether it is on the web or in our own backyards. Amy founded Futurefarmers in 1995, as a means to bring together multidisciplinary artists to create new work. She is currently teaching Media Theory and Practice courses at Stanford University and the San Francisco Art Institute.

Nis Rømer
Nis works with public art in the city, on the web and in the newsmedia. With a playfull and interactive approach, he makes situations for change and reflection. He has a special interest in the social and political organization of space and in how processes of globalization affects the city and our natural environment.

Stijn Schiffeleers
Working in many media Stijn reveals the subtleties of life via film, video and interactive installations. His work embodies a sense of play and sensitivity that reminds us to take a closer look at what surrounds us. Stijn lives and works between Gent, Belgium and San Francisco.

Michael Swaine

Michael is an inventor and designer working in many media. He is the analog anchor of the studio. Michael has collaborated with Futurefarmers since 1997. Michael is dedicated to working in the community, Swaine's "Reap What You Sew" Generosity Project involved him pushing an old fashioned ice cream style cart on wheels with a treadle-operated sewing machine on it through the streets of San Francisco. Currently, Michael is teaching at California College of the Arts.



Bridget Barnhart
Bridget currently lives on a boat in the Berkely Harbor and works in the Bay Area. She graduated from California College of the Arts with her MFA in Social Practice in 2007, and received her BFA from the New York College of Ceramics, Art and Design at Alfred University in 2002. Bridget's projects explore ideas of alternative learning processes and the concept of the specialist. Along with this work she has developed an affinity for all things fermented.

David Elliot

David Elliot is an artist currently finishing his MFA in New Media at UCLA.

Shada/Jahn (Steve Shada & Marisa Jahn)
Steve Shada & Marisa Jahn are artists and co-founders of "Pond: art, activism, & ideas." Their work explores, constructs, and intervenes natural and social systems. Ranging in practice from deeply personal to highly participatory, their work often relies on the collaborative authorship and distributive intelligence of surrounding people and situations. They are interested in the way that collective authorship shifts the production and interpretation of art towards an appreciation of process, context, and re-invention.

Nance Klehm
Nance Klehm is a radical ecologist, designer, urban forager, teacher, artist and mad scientist
of the living. Her solo and collaborative work focuses on creating participatory social
ecologies in response to a direct experience of a place. She has shown and taught in Mexico,
Australia, England, Scandanavia and various places in the United States.

Hope Hilton
Hope Hilton was born in Atlanta, Georgia, USA and is co-founder of the curatorial artist collectives Dos Pestañeos (NYC) and 21citiesatonceperformed (Atlanta). As an artist Hilton curates, collaborates, designs, writes and walks. She recently completed a 60-mile walk in the Southern United States, recognizing the walk a slave named Henry made to announce the birth of her great-great grandmother. She is most interested in researching and creating social architecture as an education strategy.

Sarah Lewison
Sarah Lewison is an artist and writer whose work explores power, economic, material ecologies and political subjectivity through time-based performative events.

Corinne Matesich
Corinne Matesich draws, researches and will remain a student for quite a while. Her interests are currently in developing a better educational experience through informal paths and collaborative groups, and entertaining ideas for rigorous imagination exercises. She lives in San Francisco, CA, and Tucson, Arizona.

Geoff Morris, Interaction Designer
Geoff Morris is currently finishing his M.A. in symbolic systems at Stanford University. He uses technology to reveal truth.

Rick Prelinger/Prelinger Archive/Library
Rick Prelinger is the founder of the Prelinger Archives in 1983 and co-founder of the Prelinger Library. Over twenty years, it has grown into a collection of over 60,000 "ephemeral" (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films. In 2002, the film collection was acquired by the Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. Its goal remains to collect, preserve, and facilitate access to films of historic significance that haven't been collected elsewhere.

The Prelinger Library is an appropriation-friendly, browsable collection of approximately 40,000 books, periodicals, printed ephemera and government documents located in San Francisco, California.

Teacher With the Bus
A project initiated by Jens-Peter Jungclaussen. The bus is a former school bus that runs on vegetable oil and serves as a mobile classroom combining leisure with an environmental message that fosters education, entertainment, and sustainability.

Adam Wight
Instigator of the Local (campus farmers market at UC Berkeley), the People's U (free school on UC Berkeley Campus) and worker at two new Berkeley Food Co-ops.

Veronica Wiman

Veronica is an independent curator and writer. She is currently a guest curator at Johannesburg Art Gallery and Bildmuseet. Her main interest lies within the interdisciplinary in art, social practice and alternative education, exploring the politics and participatory relations in the public realm. Contemporary conceptual craft, design and responsible architecture is a specific interest which often is included in the discourse around the projects or implemented practically in exhibitions and interventions.



What we want to learn...
How we want to learn...

"The bus allows the use of scattered resources, such as parks, museums, industry, libraries etc. It can establish a short term base at these places which allows a relaxed and varied use of the situation and makes the duplication of the resources of a school unnescessary."
-Excerpt from Streetwork: The Exploding School, Ward and Fyson

"Today's child is bewildered when he enters the 19th century environment that still characterizes
the educational establishment where information is scarce, but ordered and structured by fragmented, classified patterns subjects, and schedules."
-Marshall McLuhan, 1967

"Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both."
-C. Wright Mills