Have you ever had an idea that seems both obvious and other-worldly all at the same time? Like that time you walked up the stairs of a London bus and in a split second thought, 'Wow! It would be so cool to take all of these chairs out and do something incredible with the space, like live in it, or create a cafe, or a cinema, or a co-working space?'
We had those ideas and decided to combine them all. And so it is, as the Summer of 2017 approaches, the YesBus is nearing the final stage of its journey from passenger carrying double decker to incubation chamber for magic. Ok, it's not really magic, but it's close.
On June 5th we launch a crowdfunding campaign to start the next phase of this bus' life. One that will bring people together. One that will incubate seeds of dreams and help shape them into reality. One that will offer a simple countryside refuge from the stresses and strains of city living. One that will make a difference.
And now we need your help, a little bit of love from that part of you that just loves it when a silly, audacious plan turns into something real that you can touch and see and experience.
So watch this space, sign up to the YesBus newsletter to make sure you don't miss any news and get ready for a feast of different rewards that we'll be offering in return for your support. We'd love you to be part of the YesBus' journey.
We're creating a unique multi-use space on a former London double decker bus. From a creative hub enabling a vibrant, progressive community of individuals to a rentable space for meetings, overnight stays and original events, the YesBus is an example of exactly why it exists - there's a beauty in bringing an audacious idea to reality.
Here's a short film from Bus founders Chris and Dave, laying out the foundation and plans of the YesBus concept.
What is the YesBus?
The YesBus is an incubation chamber for magic. A multifunctional structure with an off-grid power system based in the countryside with unhindered views.
Designed for meetings, lectures, meals, gatherings, celebrations and lessons the YesBus is a co-working hub, yoga studio, cinema, speaking venue, kitchen, cafe, library, a space for learning and sharing.
We plan to have a camping ground, a firepit, compost toilets (with a view!) and a permaculture garden. We’re creating the perfect space which is just at home introducing inner-city school kids to the countryside as it is as a base for start-up founders.
The YesBus will be a modern tech hub with high speed wi-fi and projector systems with bluetooth surround sound, but sometimes we’ll switch off and turn it into a digital detox hub, just the ticket for a weekend of quiet relaxation away from the busyness and stress of the city.
And what’s more, the YesBus will be work on a self-sustaining off-grid power source, using solar and wind to charge the batteries which in turn will power our lights, sockets, ideas and intuition.
We'd like the bus to be an example of what you can achieve with space-saving furniture in a relatively small space, and every bit of the bus will at least two purposes.
We believe in the power of taking a familiar idea and turning it into something new. An out-of-the-box decision - like buying a bus and turning it into a community hub - is inspiring in itself, and spending time inside a unique, creative space helps us come up with innovative, exciting ideas. The YesBus is an example of exactly why it exists - there's a beauty in bringing an audacious idea to reality.
Join the crowdfunding team
We are expanding the team to run a crowdfunding campaign for the YesBus this Spring - we need you! There are loads of jobs to do to reach our fundraising target so whether you have loads of crowdfunding experience or would like to just give it a bash, we'd love to hear from you - get in touch here.
We are looking for people with time and passion for the YesBus project to help us with marketing and PR to push out the crowdfunding campaign around the world. Are you good with graphics? We will need a logo, and loads of other branding design aspects to be created. We need help with networking - introduce us to your networks and help us grow the community. Help us to find corporate and institutional funders for this incredible project and you could even help with influencer marketing.
All roles start immediately so apply now if you're interested.
After buying our bus in mid May a willing team of volunteers led by Chris Barnes has been undertaking the first stage of renovation. The bus has been stripped of all fittings, seats and innards that won't be needed in its new life.
The walls have been insulated while air vents, wood-burning stove and roof hatch have been installed, and power and water systems are being lined up for early 2017.
The bus is on a hard standing in a boat yard near the Thames in West London, and we're working on an agreement with a landowner for the bus' brand new home out in the countryside.
She (or he?) used to be in service in London, and was then living in the Isle of Wight for three years - the downstairs was converted into a bike storage space and the outside of the bus was wrapped in a very cool dinosaur design.
Since the YesTribe kicked into gear our founder Dave has been sharing a dream to buy a double decker bus and turn it into an amazing live/work/creative space, an HQ designed to be occasionally mobile and often hiding in some beautiful area of nature.
The YesBus will be fitted out professionally with hammock hooks, desk space for up to ten people co-working, areas for relaxation, creativity, meetings, racks for adventure and outdoor gear, kitchen and eating space, bean bag corner, library, rooftop garden, climbing wall and cinema screen on the outside, and more. We'd like the bus to be an example of what you can achieve with space-saving furniture in a relatively small space with everything on the bus having at least two purposes.
We have a vision of having a small campground nearby, a garden to grow food and teach the art of permaculture, outdoor shower, compost toilets, solar and wind power and so much more.
Whether you want to write a book, escape the pressures of city living, learn skills, socialise with other members of the YesTribe, watch a film beamed onto the side of the bus, or even hire the space for a business meeting in a unique setting, the YesBus will be the perfect countryside retreat offering everything that the SayYesMore philosophy deems crucial.
This will be a bus of dreams, a place to uniquely connect to the outdoors and our own individual senses of adventure. A place where ideas will be seeded and grown into wonderful little projects that will change the world.
We are SayYesMore, a social enterprise that nudges people towards finding out what they’re really capable of. Our global community, the YesTribe, started in London, England with an invite to go camping on a school night. From the 19 people who turned up that evening in June 2015 we’ve grown to over 4000, held two life-changing Yestivals, organised over 100 other events which have inspired, motivated and broken down limitations, and we’re only just getting started.
We are founded on the basic principles of opening doors, opportunities and friendships by saying yes, spending time with positive, supportive, like-minded people, and getting outside as often as we can.
The YesBus is the result of all of our philosophies rolled into one, and we’re building it for anyone who ever wanted to make more of their time and have a positive impact.
Why we’re crowdfunding
Since buying the bus in Spring 2016 we’ve been laying the groundwork, flattening out floors, running wires, insulating walls and designing every little detail with the finished product in mind. We’ve also sourced a wonderful land partner at Brinsbury campus so the YesBus has a home for the next few years.
We’re nearly done and we wanted to be close to completion before the crowdfunder simply to show that we mean business. This isn’t a pipe dream, it’s reality, and this campaign will not only help us cover the costs of converting a passenger bus into a space that will do endless good, but it’ll enable us to prepare the land as well as advertising the YesBus and what it’s available for.
Your donations will be rewarded with unique perks, some of which will see you joining us at the bus for events, workshops and other unique occasions.
Our first target of £35,000 will cover the costs of converting the bus and preparing the land at Brinsbury. A further £10,000 will cover our running and maintenance costs for the first year and any donations beyond that will go towards a future pot where we can ultimately buy our own land.
Our Countryside Home
We started by looking for a countryside location accessible to London with a very real sensation of nature. A place where members of the YesTribe can visit and camp nearby. Woodland or a patch of grass on a farm where the landowners appreciate what we're trying to do and could use a spot of income or even better, some willing, working hands to help manage the area.
And then Brinsbury put their hand up. After a really successful Yestival at Brinsbury campus in Chichester we've agreed that the YesBus will move to Brinsbury in the Summer of 2017. It's a gorgeous natural setting and we couldn't be more excited.
We do have plenty to do to prepare the YesBus plot and as always we're reaching out to you to lend a hand. Get in touch if you'd like to help.
The YesBus Story
Dave lived out of a bag for 10 years just to keep costs down as he tried to make a living from the thing he loved most in the world, adventure. After a while though he started to think about settling down, but by then a house seemed a bit boring and expensive. So why not live in a unique tiny house? A shipping container? A boat? Or a bus?
In between wondering what weird things he could live in Dave realised he didn't know many of the people who followed him on Facebook, so he decided he could put one night aside and invite his online 'friends' camping just to see if they were real people.
19 people turned up under the clock at Liverpool St Station that evening and they caught a train, found a hill and slept under the stars. What's more, they all seemed nice, so Dave did it again the next week, and the next, and...well, here's the full story.
On the night of the Blue Moon on 31st July 2015 a group of this community of one-night campers which had by now developed the cultish nickname of 'the YesTribe' were in Oxshott Woods just south of London. A new face turned up, this bloke in a checkered shirt riding a bicycle. 'I've just cycled from my job at Heathrow,' he said, 'I had to see what this was all about.'
And that was when Dave met Chris.
Now, if you're the romantic type you might be thinking 'eh up, this story is getting exciting.' Especially when you hear that just two months later Chris joined Dave in a paddle down the Mississippi, with fires on the beach every night and starry skies and...
Stop. You're getting distracted! But you do have a point - campfires ARE cool! Every evening on the Mississippi Chris took it upon himself to bound gather firewood and industriously stoke the flames. He wasn't just a good guy, but he wasn't afraid of getting his hands dirty.
In fact, Chris was an engineer, exactly the type of character that gets things done. And Dave, for all his ideas and silly projects and long distance journeys, was absolutely crap with his hands.
As the YesTribe grew Dave saw new potential in ideas he had once had, and converting a bus into a home started to play a back seat to the idea that a double decker bus could actually make a super cool countryside hub for the YesTribe.
A place that would be utterly unique in a very familiar frame. One that would entice people away from the city into the countryside. A relaxing, safe space that would be the perfect setting for an escape, a new start, the incubation of fresh inspiration.
From co-working desks to a base for inner-city kids exploring the countryside for the first time. A digital detox retreat designed to improve the mental health of adults struggling with the pressures of modern society. A centre for skill-sharing. An events space with drop-down cinema screen and a memorable site for team building days.
An example of exactly what is possible when you take an idea and just act on it.
Dave started looking around for land where a bus could live and one day Chris joined him as they looked around Home Farm in North London. After that visit they had breakfast in a cafe, realising that convincing someone to give them land for a bus that didn't yet exist was actually quite hard.
And right there, over toast and sausages, they decided to get started.
There's a business in Essex called Ensign and they take in former London buses and either sell them on or use them as a fleet of rail-replacement vehicles. We asked around and Ensign were recommended, so we caught a late train out with our friends Tam and Rima, camped overnight in fairly wet conditions and then walked three miles to the bus depot.
We looked at two buses that day. Both were roughly the same age (built in the early 2000's), both were double deckers and exactly the same shape and size. But there was standout difference. One of the buses had spent its last three years on the Isle of Wight and had a very cool orangey wraparound design covered in dinosaurs. On the back there was even a Transformer's poster. It felt....right.
We left Ensign buses in a pondering mood. We'd been open to anything but walking around the yard had brought the (potentially stupid) reality of the situation home. Buying a bus was relatively simple, but it was a huge thing, a crazy commitment. Who does that?
But one thought was nagging - what if someone bought the dinosaur bus by the time we made up our minds?
The next week Chris and Dave returned to Ensign and signed a piece of paper. That same day the bus passed its MOT, Dave and Chris got to go UNDER the bus (safely) and then all the seats were ripped out. Just like that, they were the proud owners of a double decker.
Now there was no going back.
The next week the bus was delivered to its new home, a boat yard in Shepperton where the conversion would take place. A few members of the YesTribe came over for a celebratory campout - there was cake and illuminated balloons and hammocks - and then the work started in earnest.
The bus was filthy and the tribe helped clean it up at the same time as Chris started stripping the innards down to a place where he could start building up from. The upstairs floor disappeared. The expansive plastic wheel covers were removed. All necessary wiring was cut out and plonked outside. It was happening.
Now there was a bus the hunt for land begun again and a message on Facebook gave cause for optimism. Nikki Gilbey worked at Brinsbury Agricultural college and she expressed an interest in forming a partnership with SayYesMore. Dave visited first and was struck by Brinsbury's likeness to the vision he'd had for a countryside bus base.
The next week Chris, Tam and Jules joined Dave for another visit to Brinsbury and they camped in Keeper's Field, a triangular and deliciously green section of the campus that had no current use. This, Nikki told them, could be a home for the YesBus. It was perfect.
For the rest of 2016 Chris continued to work on the bus. He got friends in to help with some jobs but mostly it was just him, working in evenings and on weekends and then, once jottings of the bus became commonplace at work, he took a three month unpaid sabbatical to speed up the progress.
The inward-opening rear doors came off and the hinges were rebuilt so they would open outwards. A U-shaped seating area began to develop over the rear wheel-well. Chris built a frame for the new upstairs floor and laid a new, flat surface. He installed a sunroof and vents throughout, hoping that they would in some way alleviate the heat that naturally built up in what was effectively a tin can on wheels.
In October 2016 the second Yestival was held at Brinsbury and this gave the college an insight into what SayYesMore and the YesTribe was all about. The festival was a great success and afterwards the Brinsbury board gave the thumbs up for the YesBus to make its home on the campus
As 2016 turned into 2017 Chris continued working on the bus and as Spring arrived the exciting stuff began to happen. Insulation was covered with cladding. A wood burning stove with two-storey flue became a familiar site in the middle of the bus. The upstairs ceiling went on. Seating was completed. Power sockets installed and a thousand other small tasks which only Chris will ever know about, but were integral to the successful future of the YesBus.
The Summer of 2017. The conversion is close to complete and a crowdfunding campaign is underway. It takes just one or two people to conjure up an idea and start to turn it into something that will benefit hundreds and thousands, but there are so many other individuals who play a part in a project like this.
We hope, as you finish reading this history of the YesBus so far, that you can now become a part of the story. We need your help, a little bit of love to send the bus on the next stage of its journey. Even without an HQ the YesTribe has made its mark on over 4000 people so far. Just imagine the impact we'll have once the YesBus is finished.
So open up the driver's door, take a seat, and make a little donation if you can spare it. We look forward to welcoming you to the bus very, very soon. Thank you.
Lessons from the YesBus
1) If you want a simple life, don't go camping with Dave
2) If you're going to buy two very similar-looking buses, go for the one that has dinosaurs on. It's a no brainer
How you can help
Supporters & Partners
We'd like to work with a variety of partners who offer products that align with the SayYesMore philosophy. Sustainable power sources, adventure and outdoor brands, graphics companies, space-saving furniture designers and anyone with experience in conversions, tiny homes and creating awesome spaces.
And of course, as soon as we're set up in Brinsbury campus please come and see us!