Join our chat with Ken Ilgunas, the student in the van by the river

In December 2009, Ken Ilgunas went public as a van-dwelling graduate student in a widely circulated essay on Salon. Playing off the 1990's man-living-in-a-van-down-by-the-river sketch from "Saturday Night Live," he confessed that to avoid crushing student debt, he'd been camping out in his van while getting a graduate degree at Duke University.

How he came exactly to that juncture -- specifically, a university parking lot -- is explained and explored in "Walden on Wheels," Ilgunas' first book. In it, he writes of growing up as an average suburban high school student, the kind of guy who spent more time playing video games than with girlfriends, who went off to college and signed up for way more debt than he wanted.

After realizing that wearing the orange Home Depot apron wasn't helping him dig out of debt fast enough, Ilgunas reached for the furthest adventure he could think of: Alaska. He found a place to work there, and discovered a surprising connection to the natural world. Since then, he's undertaken other adventures, including canoeing in 18th-century gear across Canada and walking the length of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Join us Tuesday at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern to talk to Ilgunas about his experiences, his discoveries, his dislike of debt, and to explore what Walden can mean to us in the 21st century. We'll be speaking live with him right here.




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