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Get on the magic bus! • Brooklyn Paper

Get on the magic bus!

Cooking-oil-powered volunteering: (From left) Anne Welling, Charlie Gonzalez, his dog Jefe, and Kae Burke take the Green Bus to help cleanup operations around New York City.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The Green Bus was tailor-made for Hurricane Sandy — and the fuel strapped borough it left in its wake.

With residents pining for a drop of petrol, Charlie Gonzalez’s “mobile center for conscious living” — with its converted engine that can run on both diesel gas and cooking oil — became the best way to get Sandy relief volunteers around the city.

“With the gas shortage, nobody could get around,” he said. “But the Green Bus runs off discarded cooking oil, and there’s so much of it, it’s ridiculous.”

Gonzalez partnered with the House of Yes, a performance space in Bushwick. In the first week after the hurricane, he picked up a bus load of volunteers and took them to the hardest hit areas. Since then, he’s run a volunteer tour that leaves from the House of Yes every Friday.

“I’ve got other things going on full-time, so I have to balance,” said Gonzalez. “But I want to take volunteers out as often as possible.”

So far, Gonzalez has led cleanups in Red Hook, Coney Island, the Rockaways, and Staten Island.

He claims he never thought he would use the Green Bus for relief runs when he purchased it three years ago with the intention of running tours to music festivals and retreats — but he admits it’s not a big leap from its initial purpose.

“It’s meant to be a bridge to create sustainable infrastructures,” said Gonzalez, who lives in Williamsburg. “We’ve lost our ability to interact with others.”

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