Power ranger: Parker looks to alternatives

Imagine the offspring of Marilyn Vos Savant and fictional surfer boy Jeff Spicolo. That kid would be, like, totally smart. In fact, that kid might be kind of like Anson Parker, a 26-year-old wunderkind whose dream to emancipate Charlottesville from energy dependence involves Ebay, stationary bikes, and a purple and yellow taxicab.

"Treebay," as Parker dubs his new venture, involves "taking people's stuff, reselling it on Ebay, with the proceeds going toward alternative energy use in Charlottesville," he says, dropping no less than five "likes," "dudes," and "y'alls" in that one sentence.

Parker, who has already created the web site treebay.org, hopes to operate under the umbrella of the nonprofit Virginia Organizing Project, which would allow him to offer donors tax deductions.

Having lived in various parts of the South and Central America as a child, Parker says Treebay is all about getting in touch with his "inner Mexican," the part of him that he says recognizes the greed and selfishness of America's energy policies.

In an effort to lead by example, Parker, who was booted from UVA in 2001 for "putting a peace sign on the Lawn and refusing to apologize" (and refusing the punishments handed down by the student-administered Judiciary Committee), now lives virtually free from the constraints of standard power sources.

He powers his cell phone and laptop by pedaling a stationary bike, and he'd like to see offices all over town outfitted with such equipment. He points out an added benefit: shapely buff gams.

"I've got nothing against great legs all over town," he laughs.

Parker stops joking when the topic turns to his purple and yellow cab– er, "office"– which is stuffed with his belongings.

The cab's been parked for the past month behind Alana's fabric store in the Design Center on Second Street, and Parker says several area merchants have called the police.

"They're convinced that someone is living there," says owner Alana Woerpel, Parker's friend. "Anson has convinced me he isn't."

Parker says he can't understand why anybody cares what he does.

"I don't even get picking on somebody," he says. "If you see someone living in their car, you can't be down on them, y'all. They're already down."

That said, he denies living in the cab and says he's quite pleased with his "real" home, a Rockbridge County tree house complete with cedar shingles and salvaged stained glass windows. Power in the tree house, he says, is no problem: He's adding a stationary bike/battery pack. And as for the water issue, it's all a matter of location.

"I'm, like, 20 feet from the river," Parker explains, shaking his head, offering a joking apology for any possible pungency.

For all his creative energy– and there's plenty of it– Parker says he has a single-minded focus on his latest project.

Charlottesvillians have the "brains, energy, and resources," he says. "We can make our own power."

And get great legs in the bargain.

Anson Parker