When Stephan Cesarini was asked five years ago to leave his position at a thriving Internet advertising firm he helped create (six months after the IPO), he did exactly what you would do in his shoes: He dropped 20 grand on a 1988 Class A Airstream 345 motor home he found on Craigslist, had Wynwood/New York artist friend Peter Tunney emblazon the sides with Tunney’s signature “Grattitude,” and he hit the road.
“I got sucked up in the corporate greed,” the Brooklyn-based Cesarini says of his old job. “[My firing] was a very traumatic thing, financially and pridewise, but I have so much gratitude now for that moment. It changed everything.”
Invited by a friend with the company that puts on the Okeechobee Music Festival, Cesarini rolled up to the festival grounds in the Grattitude Bus late Friday night, parking steps away from where gleaming new RVs costing 10 times as much are lined up like pricey cigars. He was accompanied by a half-dozen friends, who made themselves at home, unfurling a rectangle of carpet and a sunny, friendly Zen.
The group includes three Nashville musicians, among them the Kid, an Austin-raised singer-songwriter, formerly of Portland, who Cesarini discovered strumming a guitar in a redwood forest. His life is like that now, he says, as the Kid serenades passersby.
Cesarini spends his time doing community-service work (recently in communities as far-flung as Palestine and Costa Rica) and has an ongoing project to collect dreams (in the form of index-card declarations) of, you know, every person on the planet. He has about 8,000 so far.
The Grattitude Bus was literally, Cesarini says, the vehicle of his deliverance.
“I found freedom, my identity, who I was,” he says. “It led me to this place where I could find more purpose, I guess, in life outside a certain corporate-ladder climbing, worrying about what other people think about you.”
He hopes the Grattitude Bus can “help people step into a new reality. For a lot of people, it’s tough, life. This bus represents hope for a lot of people.”