Chaicycle 2021!

Hi friend,
This is a summer greeting from Ira. I hope you’re well and I would love to share what I’ve been working on for the last year! In the middle of pandemic time mid 2020 I decided to change location from New Orleans to Bellingham WA., the little town just below the border of Canada. I did have some connections there from times spent making art and circus at an arts organization/communal living experiment called the Lookout Arts Quarry. At the time I was hoping a place like Bellingham would be easier to weather pandemic times in then the city and that I would have more opportunity to dance and be in nature. I also had some doodles drawn of a mobile chai cart pulled by bicycle and I thought Bellingham might be a good place to build that sort of thing.

Needless to say it was a challenge to make a move and make new connections in that time, and I ended up running out of money pretty quickly. I found some work building rock walls and stone patios for our local neighborhood hippie contractor Bill. Working for Bill was so laborious. All winter long, 5 or 6 days a week I was waking up in the dark, hopping in the bed of a pickup truck to be whisked away through freezing wind and rain to go dig in the mud or lift heavy stones for hours. I would come home tired and dirty and just sit and stare at the wall!

I did save a little money doing that and so in my little free time I was able to start working on the chaicycle. It took me all winter and spring to build it. First I had to find someone to teach me how to work with aluminum and I was really lucky to meet a friendly guy named Neil who was endlessly patient in showing me how to cut, grind, bolt and rivet aluminum together into the shape of a trailer. I made several design mistakes along the way but my friend Neil helped me out every time in sorting out the problems I encountered (I was trying to make the cart too complicated!). Thanks Neil! The cart has a wok burner and kitchen setup as well as propane and some storage for my tent and sleeping bag. Look! There are some photos and video of the chaicycle below!

1 min video of the chaicycle.
The Original Doodle that led to making a chaicycle.
My friend Neil helped me design the trailer.
The trailers underside, built out of aluminum tubing and large rivets.

My aspirations for this trailer are that it may go forth in this world pulled by beautiful Bella Bicycle and create a lot of joy and chai. I anticipate all kinds of eclectic adventure… Goals of serving a lot of free food and creating a bike touring circus and artists caravan are very alive to me right now. I also made this cart instead of buying a car with the idea that this kind of transportation is very much the kind of direction we need to take in urban life as a society. I took the chai cart to the bellingham farmers market for the first time last week and had a wonderful time! 

Aida preparing chai.
Another more recent bit of news, Since the lifting of many restrictions around here in Bellingham I’ve been hosting contemplative dance practice in the park every Sunday. It’s a kind of meditative movement practice developed by a dancer named Barbara Dilley. Contemplative Dance Practice (CDP)  focuses on exploring movement as a source of creative inspiration, psychological narrative, and spiritual practice..  moving and sensing together as one whole creative living organism. Our group feels new and fresh and young (not in age but in the way of being together) and for many of the dancers meeting for CDP marks a return to intimate bodily contact in dance spaces. I’m noticing strong emotional discharge happening regularly in this container and I’m also hearing regular reports of people having strong trauma-shedding experiences in the other containers I’m tangential to that make space for giving strong group attention to the individual. There’s just so much hurt to heal right now and I feel blessed to be surrounded by some new and old friends around here who are very interested in healing work and motivated to create group containers for these kinds of experiences. Thanks!!!
Bringing the chaicycle to Contemplative Dance Practice in the park.
A satisfied chai drinker.

In just a few days I will be going on another tour with Flotsam River Circus. They are a floating boat circus I’ve participated in since our 2019 tour up the Willamette river in Oregon. The tour this time will be taking the boat down the Puget sound and then into Seattle, culminating in a series of shows around Lake Union. I will be the musical director and hopefully reprising a little clowning role as well! The show is a lot of fun and I really feel great about bringing circus by donation to guests in parks. It’s also so so so much work to put things like this together and pull them off, so I have some nervous anticipation of all the stress the crew will be put under when things invariably don’t go according to plan. Ah, that’s just the life of circus and performance art. Still I’m excited!

I don’t know what to do after Flotsam. When I contemplate potential next moves, there are so many unanswered questions and vague desires. I’m craving stability and steadiness in a place but I never seem to be able to figure out a path towards that that doesn’t feel fraught with untenable sacrifices surrounding my creative life and practices. Money is always an issue. So is finding places to stay. I’m thinking of either going back to New Orleans or staying on the west coast. I really want to heal my body from some chronic pain I’m having in my nasal passages. I would like to sit in some hot water. And I miss my older friends in Sonoma County very much, how I long to sing old folk songs with them!

Well thanks for reading so far, 
If you want to support my endeavors, you can venmo me, my handle is @iraecho . It takes a lot of resources to keep making art and music!
For many of you reading this, it’s possibly been years since I’ve seen you. So much can change over time and especially through times like these, I would really like to hear something back from you! Feel free to send me pictures, flowers, or or some nice words…
until I see you,
with peace and love and gratitude…
Ira, August 16, 2021

Flotsam river circus returns!