IDEA FARM Guy Living In Solar Powered Minivan

Anyone who lives in the Bay Area near San Francisco that drives around on a regular basis has seen the older Chrysler IDEAFARM van parked on the side of the road. The gentleman living inside hops from San Jose to Oakland to San Francisco and back down to Mountain View on a weekly basis advertising his website with the hopes of attracting an audience seeking peace and separation from material things. Whether you agree with his mission, admire his courage, or are just tired of seeing this van covered with delaminating particle board signs parked in front of your $4M mansion in Los Altos, you can probably appreciate the solar panel strapped to the top…

The old minivan still runs on gasoline but once it’s parked, a metamorphasis begins and the front flaps fold down onto the hood. Connected to one of the flaps is a pivoting first generation silicon solar panel. That single 80W panel is enough to charge several batteries inside the van, keeping the owner connected to the internet (at least when he’s near a Google WiFi hot spot).The founder of IDEA FARM is a software engineer with a thirst for public activism. He says he’s been harassed by police on more than one occasion and nearly trampled in Oakland. He also claims to be the first “homeless” man to ever write an operating system… something he is currently wrapping up from inside the van. Eventually his website (which frequently goes offline) will become a sort of social network designed to organize meetings where visitors can learn and share philosophies. It’s not especially glamorous inside the van, and the living quarters are very cramped, but the gentleman himself is very outgoing and coherent… if not a little bit bold in some of his story telling and acting.I’m not sure how far the IDEAFARM concept will go but it’s interesting to consider the ways that off the grid mobile living could be powering new political and social movements around the country.