Social Change Activist

Ken Kolsbun, author, photographer, researcher, historian and life-long peace activist and promoter of sustainability. Ken is the author of five books including Peace: The Biography of a Symbol published by National Geographic, and two books waiting for a publisher, My Journey Aboard the Peace Train, and Traveling Billboards – A Golden Age: a journal of Ken’s photographs of colorfully painted VW bugs, VW buses, vans, pick-up trucks, and sedans from the 1960’s and 70’s. Read more about Ken’s books. Ken’s commitment to peace, cooperation and environmental awareness is evident early on. He founded “Bikecology”, a national organization dedicated to developing safe bikeways across the country. Read more about “Bikecology”. In the mid 70’s Ken and his wife Jannice developed the concept of the cooperative board game. Through their company – “Animal Town” – they invented, designed and marketed cooperative board games for children and families. Read more about “Animal Town” and cooperative board games.

Featured Book: Traveling Billboards – A Golden Age

It was an eye-catching decade of a moving whimsical art show on wheels in California, offereing messages of peace, hope, love and change. In its beginning, this ‘folk-like’ art was painted on VW Bugs and VW Buses by hippies and soon followed by college students and artists opposing the emerging Vietnam War.

Unlike traditional billboards that sell products or political candidates, Traveling Billboard’s colorful art and messages helped us rethink America’s mores, including conformity, war, racism, and more. This short-lived phenomenon lasted about one decade, beginning in California during the middle 1960s as the Vietnam war was exploding with large protests. It continued up to the mid 1970s, when President Nixon was forced out of office, coinciding with the end of the twelve-year war.

As a landscape architect and budding photojournalist, I captured these vehicles with 35mm color film, during my ongoing research on the history of the peace symbol, which resulted in our book, Peace: The Biography of a Symbol, National Geographic c 2008. These photographs, taken five decades ago, reveal young peoples love, and my own, of VW Bugs and Buses. The newly colored vehicles were a real eye-opener and added a sparkle of joy to the roadway landscape.

Ken Kolsbun - Travelling Billboards
Ken Kolsbun - Travelling Billboards
Ken Kolsbun - Travelling Billboards
Ken Kolsbun - Traveling Billboards
Ken Kolsbun - Traveling Billboards
Ken Kolsbun - Traveling Billboards
Ken Kolsbun - Traveling Billboards
Ken Kolsbun - Traveling Billboards
Ken Kolsbun - Traveling Billboards
Ken Kolsbun - Traveling Billboards
Traveling Billboards - A Golden Age - Ken Kolsbun
Ken Kolsbun - Travelling Billboards
Ken Kolsbun - Travelling Billboards

Could this old blue school bus be a descendant of novelist Ken Kesey’s (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) renowned 1939 International Harvester bus named 'Further' filled with the Merry Pranksters, that muddled its way from California to the New York World Fair in 1964?

Ken Kolsbun - Travelling Billboards

VolksDragon

Ken Kolsbun - Traveling Billboards

The Volkswagon Corporates may have had fits or amusement during the 1960's, when they began to witness the emergence of the ubiquitous peace symbol superimposed or replaced over the famous VW logo on their buses by peace advocates.

Ken Kolsbun - Traveling Billboards
Ken Kolsbun - Traveling Billboards

Freedom
Cute
Small
Groovy
Simplicity
Love
Peace Symbols
Individuality
Hippies
Non-Conformists
Flowers
Youth
Inexpensive
Recognizable
Joy

Ken Kolsbun - Traveling Billboards

"There are three kinds of people in the world: those who can't stand Picasso, those who can't stand Raphael, and those who've never heard of either of them." – John White

Ken Kolsbun - Traveling Billboards
Ken Kolsbun - Traveling Billboards

"If you make money your god, it will plague you like the devil". – Henry Fielding

Ken Kolsbun - Traveling Billboards

"Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom, while discouragement often nips it in the bud." – Alex F. Osborn

Traveling Billboards - A Golden Age - Ken Kolsbun

“If there is anything the nonconformist hates worse than a conformist it’s another nonconformist who doesn’t conform to the the prevailing standards of nonconformity.” – Bill Vaughan

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