BROOKFIELD, N.S. – A new social project is making its way across the country and will be making a stop at a Colchester County school today.
The Million Dollar Bus, a travelling initiative reaching out to support small, grassroots social projects, will be at South Colchester Academy.
“The opportunity to talk to the kids and tell them about what we’re doing will hopefully inspire them to look at social impact projects as something they can take on themselves,” said Ryan Lancaster, who founded the Million Dollar Bus.
“I know the class has sort of a social focus, so it will be really great to talk about what we are doing and what they are doing, as they are working on a project of their own in their community.”
Currently, Lancaster and his crew are travelling across the country, connecting with social projects in small communities to help them gather more awareness.
To do this, Lancaster is selling advertising space on his bus, which he has dubbed the ‘Million Dollar Bus.’
“The idea is to sell off the entire outside real-estate of the bus in one inch squares to businesses and then donate a million dollars back to local initiatives,” he said.
“Local projects that are driven with purpose and passion are often making positive contributions in their communities, but they struggle with marketing, awareness and fundraising. The goal is to essentially give them a boost of awareness and create connections in the community for these projects.”
Lancaster’s Million Dollar Bus was created from passion, dedication and a button.
After falling into a slump, the Kelowna, B.C., native found his life was lacking purpose and passion and decided a change needed to be made.
“I’ve always had a passion for community and social projects, and I did a big passion project of my own last year,” said Lancaster.
“Through connecting to my local community I realized there was a need for support around these projects. From that, the idea of starting a passion project to start passion projects just resonated with me.”
To start his project, Lancaster knew he would need a bus to live and travel in, but with no money to buy one he decided to resort to bartering.
“I didn’t have any money to launch the project, so I put out on social media that I was going to try and trade from a small $2 button all the way up to a bus I could take across Canada,” said Lancaster.
“With five trades in six weeks, I managed to hustle my way from a button, to a tea set, a digital camera, an electric scooter, a seadoo and finally to a bus.”
With the bus secured, he became completely dedicated to the project, quitting his job, selling his home and using his life savings to get it on the road.
“There is definitely some sacrifice in the sense of leaving the security blanket that I had in Kelowna, you know, the house, the job, the middle-class lifestyle,” he said.
“At the same time, what we are doing is incredibly rewarding. Connecting with people doing inspiring things just uplifts you every day. You realize you don’t need as much as you think you need when you are living this kind of lifestyle.”
After visiting with students, Lancaster, his crew and the bus will travel through Nova Scotia to hopefully connect and work with local community projects which could use some help before heading to Newfoundland to park for the winter.
As the approaching winter weather has limited their time this trip, Lancaster hopes to spend a few weeks in each community next spring to lend help with fundraising and awareness efforts for various social projects.
“Unfortunately, getting on the road in September didn’t really allow us to take the time we wanted to in each community,” he said.
“The goal now is to look at what we can do that creates some positive purpose and further validates what we’re doing to hopefully make it stronger, so we can make a bigger impact next year.”
While the school meeting is not public, Lancaster and the Million Dollar Bus will be in Nova Scotia for a few days, and he urges anyone working with community initiatives to connect with them through their Facebook page or at milliondollarbus.com.