Creating CommuniTEA

Since I am a new writer for RAXA Collective, here is an introduction. My name is Kayleigh Levitt and I am currently a Sophomore at Soka University of America in Southern California. My major is in Environmental Studies with a focus in urban sustainability. I am an avid gardener and biophiliac. I believe in the transformative power of community.

I love when I meet people who show me that there are different ways to live than what is expected of us. Guisepi Spadafora serves free tea out of a mini-school bus that runs off recycled vegetable oil and biodiesel. There is a solar panel on the roof of his bus that powers his refrigerator, lights, outlets, water pump and anything he needs electricity for. He gets herbs for his tea donated on a continual basis, so he is able to have a steady menu. The companies give to him freely because they believe in what he does and he believes in what they do.He travels the land, and during a tea party, he opens up his bus and sets out chairs and rugs and serves tea for people.

The way he got started serving free tea for people was not actually on purpose. He honestly started because of loneliness in a big city. He was living in Los Angeles, in his pick-up truck, working full time and did not really have friends other than the friend he was working for. He started going to Hollywood Boulevard and would open up his tailgate, pull out his camp stove and cook a bit of dinner. He would cook a little bit of extra dinner because inevitably someone would say ‘What are you doing?’ and he would say, ‘Oh, I’m cooking dinner, would you care to join me?’ and people would then sit and eat with him, and to keep those interactions going he would just make tea for hours. Every walk of life would sit down with him, from street performers to Japanese tourists to television producers. He got really excited about the actual genuine human interactions he was having.

He had tried to go to the bars, one of the only places where you can know no one and meet people. Girls would come up and talk to him and ask him to buy them a drink, which he considered as the least genuine type of interaction one could have because the only thing they were looking for was his money.

He realized so many of his interactions with strangers were over money. Continue reading