The Argonauts Logo

Argo News: An exploration of life.

Dream Workshop Pilot Program July 24th, 2015


The aftermath of drawings. Pictured above are only one-third of the drawings.

Finally the Dream Workshop is here to help kids live an amazing life. This was our pilot program, which, depending on how you measure it, took almost a year of brainstorming. It started with some important planning meetings with the Northside Education Committee and local schools, parents and community members. At one meeting Steve Sunderland stood up and said kids don’t know how to dream anymore. At the moment, I was writing the Dream Playbook and suddenly saw an opportunity to make it real with some hands-on activities. So, I teamed up with Sue Wilke head of the Northside Education Committee, Steve Sunderland from Peace Village, Tommy Rueff from Happen Inc. and Shelley Werner and the kids at Faces Without Places. Actually there were dozens of adults behind the scenes to make this happen, including a generous donation of about 20 pizzas from an anonymous samaritan.

It is a long story to summarize a year of thinking; so, hopefully, the pictures speak for themselves. Our workshop had 3 stations teaching kids the basics of how to make dreams real? Or in my words, how to find the passion and purpose to give their lives meaning. We are challenged to find an adequate way to express this concept. Tommy likes to refer to it as the superpower of creativity and the ability to make it happen! Any way you express it, these ideas of nurturing passion are new to the educational system, which focuses more on traditional skills like reading, writing and arithmetic.

Our motto:

Dream it!
Plan it!
Do it!

Below are pictures with permission from Faces Without Places. They focus on my workshop because I didn’t have time to photograph anything else. My workshop was called “How’s it going, Scott?” And it focused on teaching kids how to make their dreams a reality. There’s not much you can do in 25 minutes, so my solution was just to present them with a simple exercise to get them thinking that making dreams come true takes some planning and some work. I gave them a drawing of two islands. They were on one island and their hypothetical dream of a treasure chest was on the other island. And in between there was an insurmountable obstacle; in this case, an ocean full of sharks. Their assignment was to draw or write a solution to get the treasure.

Some great solutions, included:

  1. Cutting down the palm tree to make a bridge.
  2. Making an airplane or wings from the palm leaves.
  3. Whistling to the dolphins and riding them to the other side.
  4. Walking on water or the sharks like stepping stones.

I didn’t want to coach or bias them, rather I wanted them to be as creative as possible. So when the kids spontaneously started making step-by-step action plans I was impressed. And another student created multiple backup plans. When the other students learned this the idea spread like fire. Though the treasure was a metaphor, only one student questioned why they actually wanted the treasure. Instead he made a plan to fulfill his real dream of being a football star.



Above one solution of building a rainbow bridge between two islands. Notice the rainbow colored beads in her hair.


Another solution: A spaceship flies you from one island to another. Notice how she redrew the picture in her own style using colors that match her dress.

Red Carpet World Movie Premier

A few days later this same group of kids went to the “world premier” of the movie they had been making this summer about the Cincinnati Museum Center. They wrote, filmed and starred in this movie. They even made their own costumes. It was a huge project organized by Happen Inc  and their Lights, Camera and Learning in Action program. It was an amazing moment to see the kids walk down the red carpet, signing autographs before their limo ride to Graeter’s Ice Cream. Wow, what a dream come true. I didn’t have anything to do with this event except I was honored to attend. And during the Dream Workshop the young director of this movie asked, “How long do I have to go college to be a film director?” It was a pivotal moment when the idea of a dream turns into the passion of commitment.




The VIP movie makers in white shirts sign autographs on the red carpet.


Inside the limo.


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Trans-Mongolian Kite-Trike Tour July 8th, 2015

Matthias kite bike Mongolian Tour Selfie

Being pulled by a kite on a recumbent trike across Mongolia?

That’s the vision about an adventure from Matthias Ramsel!

His amazing trip will starts in Novosibirsk (Russia), crossing Mongolia with tailwinds from west to east and ends with a bit of luck in Bejing, (China).

  • How obsessions and dreams will come true?
  • And what about the preparation for a journey into uncertainty?

Matthias will try to answer some of these questions, soon!


Check this out for more Information:


Matthias kite bike Mongolian Tour

Rain Barrel June 8th, 2015

Rain Barrel

Here is something that I think everyone should have.

This rain barrel took me about 2 hours to install and cost only $50 USD. The hard part was building the base and getting around that fence. The next day there was a huge rainstorm and it filled up in about 10 minutes. I could have gotten over 20 barrels of water that day.

Soon, I will be hooking up a soaker hose that goes downhill to my garden — plants love rainwater more than anything. Then all I have to do is open the valve and go have a cup of coffee. The barrel also saves double the money: once for the water going into the house and once for the water going out of the house into the sewer. Keeping storm water out of the sewers also prevents the neighborhood basements from flooding and keeps all the toxic sludge from getting flushed into the Ohio River and into your drinking water.

I plan on adding another one in the backyard. Thanks to the Sierra Club and their rain barrel workshop.

Bicycle Buttons April 24th, 2015

Martina Gee's Velobotóns Urbana Earring

Editor’s Note: This world cyclists supports her travels with handmade bicycle button jewelery or velobotóns!


I’m Martina from Switzerland and since 2009 you can find me most of the time on a bicycle seat somewhere on this world.

As a very creative person I wanted to add something to my travels and created the velobotones. Small bikes made of wire were a bit boring, so the colored buttons came into play. The first models were made in Bogota, Colombia. From that point in time the offer is expanding steadily and the luggage is getting heavier and heavier. Some velobotones already travelled through various countries and lived some good adventures but I prefer to let them spread there charm somewhere on the way.

Furthermore they provide that I can pedal a bit longer as they fill my travel purse. From now they are available on this website:

You can follow more of Martina’s adventures here, or order some buttons.


Martina Gee's Velobotóns Carrera

Martina Gee's Velobotóns Earrings

Martina Gee's Velobotóns key chain

Martina Gee's Velobotóns Penny Farthing

Street retrofit design optimized for humans not cars March 27th, 2015

Does anyone describe the philosophy of our roads in one word? Is it efficiency? Is it cost or cars and convenience? It appears to me there is no guiding principal. So why not build stuff optimized for what it means to be a happy, heal human? Not only is this street retrofit design optimized for health and happiness, but it also 2–4 times as safe and energy efficient. These ideas have been rattling around in my head for years, and I’ve finally decided to give them life in this quick sketch.

Here are the highlights:
  1. 4x more efficient: Have you ever wondered why the postman and garbageman have to stop at every house, then turn around and go back along the other side? In this design we have all the post, garbage and recycle on one side of the road. Neighbors can also share a spot between properties. This makes everything 4x easier and faster. This is one of my favorite features.
  2. Safer easier roads: As a driver or pedestrian this design with one-traffic flow and one-sided parking eliminates about half the hazards. Drivers and pedestrians only have to look one way before crossing the road. And they no longer have to worry about colliding with oncoming traffic, while avoiding bicyclists, car doors, or illegally parked vehicles.
  3. Bike and pedestrian lanes: This features a protected bike lane separated by traffic calming devices and a dedicated sidewalk for pedestrians even further removed from harm’s way. This creates 3 lanes of traffic: one for car, bike and pedestrian, rather than than 2 for cars, and 2 for pedestrians.
  4. Buffer zones: On both sides, marked in orange brackets, you can see that the habitable living area is set apart from the road traffic and idling vehicles. This gives both the customers in the cafe on one side and the plants in the garden on the other side some room to breathe fresh air.
  5. Parkway: Or the green area between sidewalk and street can be planted with low-maintenance perennials that don’t require to be mowed. And the trees can be high-quality hardwood that can be harvested for lumber.
  6. Parking: No parallel parking required. And delivery vehicles can pull right into the bicycle lane for quick deliveries. This constitutes a small risk to the bicyclist to swerve into the traffic lane to pass, but I think is much smaller risk than currently, especially since this lane should be empty almost all the time.
  7. Business and community: What better way to foster community than to walk across the street for coffee, groceries or other local business that provide services to residents, rather than drive 5–15 miles?

Update: Here’s a new video that illustrates how we can redesign our roads for bicycles, and make it safer and carry just as much traffic for cars.


Categories: From the Seat of a Bicycle Tags:

Scott Stoll Wants To Go To Mars And Never Come Back March 12th, 2015

Scott Stoll Wants To Go To Mars. And Never Come Back. Cincinnati Magazine

Cincinnati Magazine Excerpt.

Sometimes Scott Stoll dreams of that first day. He steps outside, the rusty red rocks kicking up a fine dust beneath his feet. He is in an extra-terrestrial bowl surrounded by an eroded rim that rises gently on the horizon, forming the lip of a vast crater. Huge boulders are strewn across a cracked surface that resembles dry stream beds in the Australian outback. In front of him, dominating the landscape, is a towering mountain layered in shades of black, chocolate brown, gray, and cinnamon. But what usually dominates his dream is an image of him, looking up into a coal-black sky filled with a million pinpricks of light. He searches for one point of light in particular—Earth. The planet he left behind. >>>

Read More on Cincinnati Magazine >>>

And read the update on the story from Cincy Mag.

Mars One Failure to Launch February 19th, 2015

Mars One. The next giant leap for mankind.

Hello fellow earthlings,

The good news is that I won’t have to eat worms and algae for the rest of my life; the bad news is that I failed to qualify for the next round of Mars One. So after almost two years, my aspirations to be the first person to bicycle around two planets has come to an end. I made it into the top 500 applicants out of 202,586. Maybe I was even number 101, but that doesn’t matter because only 100 get to move to the next round, and there were too many Americans from the start.

If you have about one minute, you can listen to my interview on WVXU, the local NPR station. I’m not sure why I’m reposting this. I was already feeling ashamed, and then to wake up the next day and see in the news about myself titled: “Cincinnatian loses out.”

My job interview to be an astronaut with Dr. Norbert Kraft (formerly of NASA, and now in charge of the applicant process for Mars One) was so bad — the worst I’ve ever done — that I literally had an out-of-body experience watching myself ruin the biggest opportunity I’ve had in years. I was saying the stupidest things and the lag and audio delay really made it impossible for me to connect on a personal level with Dr. Kraft. And somehow, of all the days in the year, I had a book due at the publishers just hours before my interview. I was exhausted from working every day for a month and somehow had just lost my mojo.

To give myself some credit, I was growing reluctant because I think I know too much about how hard this journey to Mars would be, because — not to pat myself on the back — cycling around the world is really hard. Visiting Mars is a fanciful idea, but the closer it comes to being a reality the scarier it is. (It was becoming so real, I began a list of things to bring, like: bicycle, bourbon still, 3D printer.) I mean how many other applicants know what it is like to go days without food, malnourished and fatigued; or sleep in such cold terrain that you wake the next morning with frozen water bottles and dying of dehydration; or to be isolated for days or even months; or to lay injured alongside the road with no one to help; or be sick with some strange disease in a village with no doctors? The more I learned about the trip to Mars, like spending 6-8 months in a capsule insulated from the radiation by your own bags of urine and feces, the more it seemed like a feat of survival than one of adventure and discovery.

Furthermore, I was growing reluctant to continue investing my time, money and energy into this project. The largest portion of the Mars One business plan is to use social media to earn the advertising revenue to fund the trip. I was beginning to feel like a media puppet. That’s a whole other story, involving media embargoes, nondisclosure agreements, and a lot of unhappy journalists and wasted time and opportunities. And it seemed the Mars One media blitz scheduled to launch on Monday also failed, since it didn’t break into the U.S. national media. That makes me sound a little jaded, but I was seriously considering the job and felt Mars One had some things to prove to me as well.

Nonetheless, I still wanted this opportunity very very badly. To have landed on Mars and be an astrobiologist — that would have been a dream come true. I’m sure I could have found some evidence of life somewhere. And despite some of my concerns, which I think are normal, I really tried.

Time to find a new dream.

Not making the next round was a painful experience. I felt as if I somehow betrayed myself. It really makes me question my ability to move through the world impeccably. Somehow I created these rules that I live by, like being an extraordinary adventurer; yet, I didn’t create a game that I can win. And I have made agreements and commitments with the world around me, a world that doesn’t seem to live up to my expectations and wishful thinking. One thing is clear, somehow I got lost in this equation because I didn’t value myself as much as I valued my commitment to these illusions, and I wasn’t even enjoying the journey.

Somehow I must put my life back in balance and create a new dream. As one journalist, John S. said to me: “I know you would have loved the experience and the adventure but, as your life up to now has shown, you don’t have any problem finding adventure right here on Earth.”

But what should I do? What world-record, Earth-shattering dream can I do now? Or maybe I should just have fun? It’s my life, and no matter what at the end of the sol (Martian day), the only way I can measure my life is by my own experience, memories and emotions — that is my only take away. So, can I value exploring the mysteries of what it means to be human as much as I value a journey to Mars?