Thursday, January 24, 2008

Notes on Nina (not a ballerina...)

High tech, young, pretty, low footprint and green

I profiled local bike commuter Nina Simon today on Commute By Bike. I first noticed Nina a couple of months ago as she rode into town from the woods and past my home to the bus stop. She always wears a bright yellow vest with red LED blinking lights built into the vest. I labeled this cyclist "the yellow vest girl."

Nina the bike commuter
Somewhat later I was at the local climbing gym in Santa Cruz. Nina was there climbing the wall. I didn't make the connection between this climber and "yellow vest girl" though, but I clearly remember thinking that this climber must be a cyclist because she has cyclist legs.

As I sat to eat lunch this climber joined me and asks if I ride my bike and take the bus to San Jose during the week. The climber turns out to be "yellow vest girl." She's 20-something, attractive with curly brown hair, very fit, and a wonderful poster child for the future of our nation and world. Nina and her husband live off-grid using photovoltaic panels, car batteries, and RV appliances.

She's a big change from the usual crazy, backwoods off-grid people I know. Many are grizzled and highly opinionated retired engineers, and a lot are also borderline isolationist misfits who forgot about personal hygiene, especially in the Happy Valley area where Nina lives. Nina, on the other hand, invites kids to use her bike powered blender to make smoothies. She's a wonderful conversationalist. She doesn't dress like a bum, nor does she smell like one (even after a hard session at the climbing gym). If you read her blog you'll see she's a good communicator.

Nina speaks with the tempo and language of an east coast urbanite, so I was taken aback when she started talking about some aspects of her off-grid living, especially the composting toilet. "Oh," I asked, "what kind of composting toilet to you have?" I envisioned something fancy, high tech, expensive and European when she answered matter of factly, "We just use buckets and some hay."

Nina and her husband are both very involved in high technology, but it's wonderful to see younger adults making choices to dramatically lower their footprint. She's not a crazy activist with an axe to grind; she's just somebody who's made some choices about what's important. Meeting Nina makes me hopeful for the future of the United States.


  1. Can I adopt Nina? But seriously, someone should place her on their ticket as a vice-presidential running mate. Finally someone who could actually influence change in the world. Cheers to Nina. I'm wearing a yellow jacket to honor her!

  2. Nina may not be a ballerina, but her story danced right into my heart. You go girl!

  3. Keep on bikin' yellow jacket girl. Harley your hearts out!

  4. Nina, Nina, make a family proud!