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Ohio family of five lives in a school bus

For the Soul of Athens multimedia project, students from Ohio University look at how the American Dream is evolving in the small towns of southeast Ohio. Meg Roussos focused on a family of five living in a school bus on 20 acres of land, producing an essay titled "The Refuge." See the full story here. 

Meg Roussos

Forest, Eli and Simon unload firewood as the fall sun sets through the trees, and their goats surround the boys. "We are trying to load up on firewood before winter comes around," Simon says.

Meg Roussos

Forest works on some homework and Eli sits on the couch, while Smiles types in some new song lyrics he wrote into their laptop, and Space cuddles with Simon. "This bus really makes us a close family, not just because we have to be around each other all the time, but because we want to be around each other" Smile said.

Describing the lifestyle in the tent, Roussos writes:
The school bus is small for five people. Shelves are stacked to the ceiling, filled with clothes and food. Headlamps hang from a bungee cord. There are touches of home, like a bookcase Smiles built. They improvise solutions to simple problems that do not exist in traditional houses.The kids warm bricks on the wood-burning stove and place them at their feet to keep warm during winter. Eli pulls out a rollaway bed every night, and Forest sleeps on the couch. There is no running water. They compost their waste. They have to start a generator in order to charge their cell phones. With only the small stove in the bus, it often gets cold during the long Appalachian winters. Smiles often gets up in the middle of the night to refuel the fire.

Meg Roussos

Simon steps through the kitchen, as Space's homemade apple pies wait to be baked in the oven. "It is such blessing to have this oven in here, I am able to bake a lot of homemade things" Space said.