Bus has a green message

A not-so-regular bus rolled into Wichita on Wednesday afternoon — it was not being run by gasoline.

The bus, known as the Topsy Turvy, runs on vegetable oil.

Sponsored by the Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation, the Topsy Turvy bus stopped at Congregation Emanu-El, 7011 E. Central, as part of an environmental program to educate those in Jewish communities around the country.

"We have been over 40 places in about four months," said Jonathan Dubinsky, special programs coordinator of Teva Learning Center.

The mission of the Teva Learning Center is to renew ecological wisdom inherent in Judaism and to renew the Jewish community, according to Dubinsky.

With the help of the Jewish Climate Campaign, the Topsy Turvy bus and its staff have traveled across the United States educating communities on how to be environmentally sound.

"We want to focus on the positive things people can do in their lives," Dubinsky said.

Moti Rieber, executive director of the Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation, said the reason for their organization to bring in this program was because "the Jewish community can take a leading role and help move all of us to a sustainable way of life."

The program Dubinsky and his staff runs consists of what he calls "awareness, interconnectivism and responsibility."

Children participating in the program Wednesday night first learned a little bit about what it means to be environmentally friendly, then rotated to two workshops to perform hands-on projects. Those included how to operate a solar-powered oven, and also how the solar generator works on the Topsy Turvy, which is one bus sitting on top of another, specifically built for this kid-friendly, nationwide project.

"The reason we work with kids is because they're still open to things," Dubinsky said. "We believe they're the ones who are going to be the key to a sustainable future."

Dubinsky and his crew will next head to the Kansas City area, where he is originally from. He said coming to Wichita was both comforting and exciting.

"There's really no place like home," he said. "When I heard that Wichita was wanting to do this, right off the bat I was saying yes to it. They were one of the most forward organizations to do this."

Rieber said his hope was that the kids, from preschool to middle school, could take something away from Wednesday's lessons.

"If they just remember one little thing they saw, we hope a little bit of the seed will live on in them," said Rieber.