CONVERSATIONS WITH MAINE

Lincolnville boys take “Love, the Bus” around the country

The Maine boys and their bus: Tyler Dunham (left to right), Seth Brown and Corey McClean
The Maine boys and their bus: Tyler Dunham (left to right), Seth Brown and Corey McClean
Posted Aug. 18, 2011, at 2:18 p.m.
“Chartreuse,” centerpiece of the “Love, the Bus” cross-country project, kisses the Atlantic Ocean in Lincolnville on launch day.
“Chartreuse,” centerpiece of the “Love, the Bus” cross-country project, kisses the Atlantic Ocean in Lincolnville on launch day.
Tyler christens the bus with a bottle of champagne.
Tyler christens the bus with a bottle of champagne.
Interior of the renovated bus, “Chartreuse.”
Interior of the renovated bus, “Chartreuse.”
Interior of the renovated bus, “Chartreuse.”
Interior of the renovated bus, “Chartreuse.”

On July 12, I drove to Lincolnville Beach to witness the launching of “Love, the Bus” — a web TV show, cross-country expedition and quest to do good — a series of adventures for three young men from Lincolnville. It all revolves around a bright green bus named “Chartreuse.”

Tyler Dunham, Seth Brown and Corey McLean have been teaming up together since they formed a band at ages four and five.

“We used to cover ‘Wild Thing,’” McLean said with a grin.

In middle school, when they wanted to ski rather than work on a school project, they came up with a film idea that allowed them to do both. In high school, they spearheaded a fundraiser to create a terrain park at Camden Snow Bowl. They raised $20,000.

Since graduating from college, the three spirited Maine boys have been brainstorming ideas for something dynamic and fulfilling to do with their lives.

“How are you supposed to find only one thing to do for all your life?” Brown said.

Soon, an idea came along and blossomed: The three would invite friends and acquaintances, new and old, to propose challenges for them to complete at destinations across the country. The performance of each challenge would become an entertainment event to bring both attention and fundraising to a local, worthy cause.

The boys dreamed up a way to see the world, have adventures, utilize multiple talents and make the world a better place all in one package. They purchased an old-school bus “because it was cheap!” With guidance, they transformed the bus into an eye-catching centerpiece for their adventure. It is eco-friendly (relatively speaking), because it runs largely on waste vegetable oil. It is people-friendly as well. The bus sleeps six, so guests can join the project along the way. There is a full kitchen, sound system, Astroturf on the roof, film equipment and a projection screen.

“Crowdsourcing” is an essential part of the “Love, the Bus” project. That means that visitors to their website are an integral part of the creative team.

“It’s because of social networking that we’re able to do this,” Brown said.

So far, they have danced in public in New Hampshire, prepared menu items to sell in a Boston restaurant, crossed Manhattan with their legs tied together and ran a 5k race together in Annapolis dressed as their bus.

After completing each challenge, they create a film episode and post it to their site, lovethebus.tv.

Though it may sound like a frolic, these guys have worked hard. In the last eight months, they have had intensive training in carpentry, mechanics, marketing, fundraising, business, design, production and more. Though they found some generous material sponsorship, they faced many fundraising rejections during their start-up phase. Now, they appreciate what they learned.

“We were better off not getting the money up front,” they said. Each failure pushed them to work harder, get more organized and become more independent.

“After each rejection, there’d be a day of sulking,” they said. Then they’d get fired up to try something else.

Unforeseen obstacles have hampered the bus boys on the road as well. In their first month, “Chartreuse” spent three weeks in the shop. Still, they managed to keep their spirits up and carry on with local challenges and fundraising events.

“It was a scramble to get back on track,” Dunham told me over the phone from Washington, D.C. They pulled some all-nighters and have been going nonstop. But they have had a lot of good press, radio and TV interviews and they are seeing increased traffic on their website.

On July 12, “Chartreuse” backed down Lincolnville’s launch ramp, kissed the Atlantic Ocean, and was christened with a bottle of champagne. By the end of this month, it’s expected to be in Chicago, and eventually it will arrive on the West Coast to kiss the Pacific. Maybe by then, the “Love, the Bus” project will have floods of followers and thousands of dollars worth of donations in its wake. Those Lincolnville boys certainly have the drive and determination to do it.

If you’d like to suggest a challenge, watch a video, or make a donation, visit the boys at lovethebus.tv.

Robin Clifford Wood welcomes feedback and suggestions at robin.everyday@gmail.com.

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