This is the story of the smallest but perhaps most fascinating member of the Two Hands Tribe. His name is Luke, he likes scuba diving, and he is a Garden Gnome. How does a humble GNOME help clean yOUR world? Well that is what we are here to find out.
It all begins with the most extraordinary string of coincidences that could only be fate. James and Silke meet through a mutual love of setting things on fire (in a careful and controlled manner with the Sydney Fire Twirlers), but it wasn’t until later when Silke helped Paul kick off “Two Hands Project” that our hero enters the story. As luck would have it a few weeks before his ‘discovery’ James and Silke had met up at Longreef to discuss how his favourite hobby, Geocaching, could help spread the Two Hands message…
But for the rest of this to make sense, we better make a quick aside to briefly explain exactly what Geocaching is. Geocaching is an outside adventure game that uses GPS technology to assist players in locating hidden containers, known as geocaches. Think of it as a cross between orienteering, high tech treasure hunting, and hide and seek, driven by a community website (www.geocaching.com.au). One person hides a container with a visitor log book at an interesting spot and puts the GPS co-ordinates of the geocache online. Other players then use these co-ordinates to find the box, sign the log book and enjoy the location. Back at the website, the finder shares their experience with the community via an online log. Geocaching is also about the love of the outdoors, and one aspect, “Cache In, Trash Out” (CITO), where players are encouraged to clean up the area around a geocache or the track leading to it, inspired James that Geocaching and Two Hands could work well together.
Now that is (kind of) cleared up, back to our story. Trying not to complicate things too much, during the Geocaching CITO vs Two Hands meeting, Silke also learnt about special Moving Geocaches, which for reasons I wont explain here often take the form of Garden Gnomes carrying a log book container. While out on scuba dive clean up a few months after the meeting somewhere between Manly and Shelly Beaches, Sydney, Silke came across a most unusual piece of garbage. It was a Garden Gnome, who had an old 35mm film canister strapped to his back, very, very much in the fashion of a Moving Geocache. But what was it doing in 10m of water?! Silke took some photos and sent them to James to investigate. It turns out, the Gnome was not a Geocache, but a lonely wanderer… looking for a mission and purpose in life. Well, he got one!
He was taken to the Geo-Gnome Hospital up in the Blue Mountains (yes, such a thing exists), cleaned up, repaired, formally listed online as a moving geocache, and christened “Two Cool Hands Luke” by geocacher rogerw3 who runs the Gnome Hospital. In May 2011, he set off on an adventure around Australia, encouraging Geocachers not only to find, move and hide him, but to clean up the area around him as they went. His travels took him to Canberra, Melbourne, and scuba diving at Philip Island.
Then, tragedy! In November 2011 Luke disappeared, feared gnome-napped. He was listed MIA and sadly missed. However, unexpectedly almost exactly a year later he rose from the dead! Luke showed up at a local geocachers picnic and was recognised. He remained quiet about his whereabouts the previous 12 months (secret Gnome business) but insisted to be put straight back to work and continue on his mission for a cleaner Australia. So far Luke has been found by 29 Geocachers and moved nearly 1,200km! You can see all the pictures of Luke and follow his adventures at Geocaching Australia (http://geocaching.com.au/cache/ga3158).
But even Luke can only be in one place at one time. Not happy just talking to those who find him directly, Luke also inspired another Locationless geocache, “The Two Hands Project CITO Cache”. The beauty of this geocache is it is not linked to any location. People everywhere are encouraged to clean up around any cache they find and take photos of their haul and upload the pictures Two Hands style to the internet.
Almost 50 cleanups have been carried out by geocachers inspired by this cache across six Australian states and territories, in London and in Ireland. (http://geocaching.com.au/cache/ga3002).
Luke is currently sitting in Victoria waiting for his next move and adventure, and hopes you use some of the glorious long hours of summer to spare 30 Minutes and Two Hands, (or more!) to help clean up yOUR local world.
Best Regards, James (aka Zalgariath in caching circles)
For more information about Luke, Geocaching and combining it with Two Hands Project work, follow the links above or contact James (Zalgariath@yahoo.com.au)