Van is student’s home and refuge by choice

Chris Bird, News Editor

Adam Schlub, also known as Val, studies web design at Madison College. He has aspirations to one day work in a research station up in Alaska.

Val also lives in his van.

Val says he chooses to live in his van, which he has adapted to his needs. There are several reasons he chooses this way of living. Finances, freedom, and his ideology. “It is no measure of health to be adapted to a sick world,” Val stated, in reference to philosopher and spiritualist Jiddu Krishnamurti.

Val sees rent as a financial drain.

“I used to rent, it’s a finances thing,” Val said, “at a certain income level you’re renting in an area you don’t have much control over.” He talked of past roommates who made living in rent controlled space difficult, and the difficulty of living with others in general. “The system is set up for most people to not live in an ideal living situation,” he said.

Val spoke about how he feels that people try so hard to make sure there are no threats in their environment. They will try hard to make everyone like them to secure their position in a living situation or life in general, and it can be very draining. “Setting boundaries and controlling your environment is a better approach,” he said. Having the freedom to live on his own terms and have his own space is very important to Val.

“Freedom, it makes it easy to focus,” Val said, “when there is a lot of complexity, it’s harder to work.” Val stated that his parents held on to too many things, they were hoarders. He thought it was normal to live like that, but now aims to keep things simple and only hold on to what is important to him. “Square footage is a premium. I constantly move and remove anything I don’t need or use.” Val believes your possessions should have a purpose, and in that way “things should love you back.” If they don’t, then you don’t need them.

“I would like everything I own to be repairable,” he said. Val can fix his car, and has been working to find things that are built to last or that can be easily worked on if need be. Val held up a decades old thermos, still in great condition, and talked about how it is important to him that his things are built to last. He dreams of being able to get a vehicle that can run on bio-fuel or electricity, and a methane generator.

Val has been slowly upgrading his van to fit his needs. He has purchased a heater in preparation for winter, and is constantly working to improve his living space.

“If you can conquer winter, you can live anywhere,” he said.

Val wants to be able to travel, and has done so in the past, but is working hard to make it possible to stay on the road if he likes. Web design is an ideal career for his lifestyle, as he would be able to do work wherever he had internet and electricity, and web designers don’t need to have an office or set work hours to get the job done. “I want to go on a circuit, travel around the whole country,” he said.

Through all his travels, Val said his favorite place he has been was Badlands National Park in South Dakota. “I’ll never forget the mists. And the lightening kissing the ground. It was warm,” he said.

Val loves the clay that forms after it rains there, and the way that it feels to walk over it.

“It can get lonely, because you don’t have anybody to share it with,” Val said, “I haven’t found anybody who would want to travel with me.” Val plans to upgrade his living space, and get more room as well as improving his home. He wants to be able to share his space if he chooses to. “I want a big dog, one that I can hug, maybe carry some gear.” Val believes relationships should be beneficial for everyone involved. If you looked at a person as a battery, each person in a relationship should help charge the other, and not just drain them.

The way Val lives means that he might have to go for days at a time without clean clothes or a shower. His lifestyle is not without sacrifices. Living this way can be hard.

Val believes that people view the way he lives differently because they are seeing the potential negatives based on fear. Val hasn’t had any bad experiences with people while living out of his van, he says that he keeps to himself and doesn’t have any trouble, but most people assume that he wouldn’t be safe living like he does. Val chooses to live apart from a system that he sees as broken.

“I can’t change the system right now,” he said, but he can control his own life and his environment. Val advises everybody to “take a step back.”

“Moving slower, I get more done.”