A Man, A Van, A Plan — And It’s Not Scary

Gotta love this guy! Guisepe Spadafora travels around the U.S. serving free tea from his mini bus, creating community just by opening his doors and inviting people in. What a nice little reminder that you can be a man with a van — a stranger with a van — and not a predator! Kudos to Isabelle Altman at The Columbus Dispatch for this delightful feature (and to Luisa Porter, who took the great photo):

Guisepe Spadafora says he began serving free tea when he was living out of a pickup in Los Angeles.

The 22-year-old Washington native had just graduated from college and moved to the city where he didn’t know anyone. He began parking his truck on Hollywood Boulevard and cooking dinner, inviting passersby to eat with him when they stopped and asked what he was doing. After dinner, he would put the kettle on. People started calling him the tea man.

“All of a sudden, I started having community,” Spadafora said.

Now 33, Spadafora travels the country inviting people into his tea bus, Edna Lu, and serving cups of tea. A two-month journey through the South brought him to Columbus on Friday, where he parked in front of the Rosenzweig Arts Center and poured tea for a steady stream of passersby visiting the bus.

“What are you doing here?” asked 18-year-old Maggie King as she poked her head into the bus on Friday to see a group of people sitting around sipping tea with their attention on Spadafora. “I just saw the free tea sign.”

She and her friend Rikki Garcia, 19, each grabbed a seat and a mug….

Read the rest here, including Guisepe’s encounter with the police on Christmas Eve. Hope this warms your week! – L.

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A child interacting with a stranger? Maybe free tea is the key to connecting us all. (Photo by Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff.) 

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9 Responses to A Man, A Van, A Plan — And It’s Not Scary

  1. Abigail January 29, 2017 at 10:49 pm #

    Powerful and surprisingly easy to reach out. Our communities are not beyond our reach or control as long as engage.

  2. donald January 29, 2017 at 11:08 pm #

    NOTFreeRangebutCommonSensesomeone posted something yesterday that was a good wake up call! I disagree with a few things but he or she is right about nasty “judgey” comments

    I don’t like people that are judgmental. However, without intending to, I’m doing the same thing against parents that bubble wrap! I don’t intend to but they leak out in ways that I wish they wouldn’t.

    My dad was a business tycoon wannabe. He didn’t make it so he wanted his son to do it for him. He continually taught me about how it’s a ‘dog eat dog’ world and did his best to prepare me for ‘The Hunger Games’ (his vision of the real world) where only the strongest survive and the nice people get ‘screwed, blueded, and tattooed’. (he loved that phrase) Before I was even old enough for kindergarten, he told me often that the world was all about putting your nose to the grindstone!

    He believed this so strongly that he was 100% certain that he was giving me this precious gift of education that was VITAL for my survival! When I hear parents that strongly believe that the ‘gift’ of fear is VITAL FOR SURVIVAL then I don’t always contain myself.

    The movie, ‘Taken’ may teach us to be cautious and how to identify scary people. With the infotainment of the news channels, we stay well informed of what to be afraid of. However, it does more to encourage violence than it does to quell it. This is why men in white vans are so suspicious and why adults can’t visit Legoland if unaccompanied by a minor.

    During the time I learned to be cautious of everybody’s motives, I also developed an idea to screw others over before they have a chance to screw me over! This helped to launch my attitude of hate which I perfected by the time I was 25 years old! I also believe that teaching children the ‘gift’ of fear will have side effects that are 500 times worse than any benefit that comes from this ‘gift’.

  3. Paul Hess January 30, 2017 at 8:31 am #

    This is a prime example of grooming. Red Alert!

  4. Stacey Gordon January 30, 2017 at 9:39 am #

    I guess Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley might never have happened in our times.
    I am curious though… what does he do for a living? Where does his money come from? Because I would happily do this if I had a concurrent income.

  5. Vicki Bradley January 30, 2017 at 12:09 pm #

    New to this website, Paul?

  6. Reziac January 30, 2017 at 4:27 pm #

    Very cool!

  7. Paul Hess January 30, 2017 at 5:19 pm #

    Hi Vicki,

    Funny you should ask that, since I had a glitch posting this morning. I actually included an FYI I’m joking in angular brackets but it never showed up, either due to the brackets or my cell phone or who knows what.

    After I noticed, figured the Red Alert! would keep it jokey, but I can see how it might be interpreted as perfectly in-character with the other part of my comments. 🙂

    But to answer your question, not new here and not thinking Guisepe is grooming.

    – Paul

  8. Julie January 31, 2017 at 10:56 am #

    To answer Stacy Gordon’s question, in the original article (Lenore linked it) it states that he does odd jobs for people as he travels (often people he’s served tea to) as it only costs him around $7000 a year to run his tea van. I would assume he lives a fairly simple lifestyle. I’m sure it’s not for everyone (I don’t think I would want to do it) but if he finds it fulfilling then I think that’s great. Although I do hope (for his sake) he has some sort of retirement plan for when he’s too old to work anymore.

  9. Vicki Bradley February 1, 2017 at 10:16 am #

    Thanks for the clarification, Paul.