One day, as I drove around Tampa in the Seminole Heights area, I came across a bookshelf on the side of the road. It wasn't left for trash pickup—it was a working bookshelf, complete with books and a roof to shield those books from unpredictable Florida weather.
After doing some research, I discovered this colorful little bookshelf was part of the Open Book Exchange by Bluebird Book Bus, and there are others dotting the Tampa Bay area. People can take and leave books whenever they want, and the idea is to make the written word available to anyone who's interested.
And Bluebird Book Bus has more projects like this. They set up at farmers' markets in Tampa and St. Petersburg and sell books and art from a—you guessed it—repurposed blue bus. There's also the Captive Poet Project, where a poet sits at a typewriter and writes haikus for anyone who offers a donation. And those are just a few of the ways the Bluebird Book Bus promotes creativity and writing. They recently attended the St. Pete Zine Fest, as well, where local creatives offer up handmade magazines.
Founder Mitzi Gordon is a writer and artist in the Tampa Bay area, and her bio says she's nurtured a deep love of books from a young age. She started the Bluebird Book Bus in 2011 and describes it as "a passion for words and ideas, illustrations and the book-as-art, put on four big bus wheels and headed your way."
I hope it doesn't stop rolling anytime soon.