Sustainable Living: John Long’s Story

The FoCo Local’s Guide to Eco-Friendly Living

A story about and inspired by CSU graduate alumnus, Fort Collins local and sustainability expert, John Long.


Video Interview with John Long:

Fort Collins sustainability enthusiast and expert, particularly in the non-profit sector

 John Long’s Story: A Narrative

(as told by Katie Murphy):

10336634_10204518063984951_1787489896806453682_nMeet and Greet

I first heard about a man named John Long through a friend of mine, Michael DuCharme, who met him through mutual friends in the music scene and while volunteering at the Fort Collins Sustainable Living Fair, which DuCharme has participated in for over ten years.

DuCharme told me about Long’s story and I was truly inspired by all of his positive work and leadership in the community, while battling an aggressive form of cancer in its fourth stage.

I see John as an elder in our group of friends in the sense that I’ve always seen him as someone with direction and a positive attitude. He is very experienced in the non-profit sector and has always been a fundraising kind of guy. People around town say, ‘If anyone could do it, John Long can,’ said DuCharme.

When I finally had the chance to meet John in person, he was outside of restaurant and music venue, Avogadro’s Number, with his bus-to-show and group of show-goers heading to the Boulder Theatre. He gave me his business card and said he would be happy to speak with me. He is very easy to talk to and work with; I was honored to listen to him and I was humbled by his story.

Long was on his final chemotherapy treatment the day we met for our interview, in addition to fulfilling his bowling league commitments. He is so full of energy and life; you would never think that he was battling cancer.

Longhaired and bearded with soft eyes, Long had a laidback, but focused demeanor. He carried his own water jug equivalent to about eight cups, which he said was full of distilled colloidal silver water, a stage IV supplement known to shrink cancer tumors. He told me it was part of his alternative cancer treatment, which included acupuncture and Cannabidiol oil, as well as a shift to a predominantly raw foods diet.

I felt very emotional during the interview because of how heartening his story was and how strong he is. Listening to him inspired me to get more involved in the community by volunteering, living more sustainably, and helping others.


Photo of John Long and I after the interview

Long’s Professional Endeavors

Long has lived in Fort Collins since 1998, graduating with his Masters in Botany from Colorado State University in 2000. Before that, he graduated from University of Florida with a Bachelor’s of Science, with a focus in Zoology and Pre-Medicine.

He spent forty minutes telling me his story; mostly talking about his professional work history and how he got to where he is today. He began his career as a passionate and radical graduate student at CSU; taking trips to Seattle with fellow students and professors to protest the World Trade Organization and prevent the negotiation conferences from taking place; a phase of the anti-globalization movement. They managed to not get arrested, but did get tear-gassed, pepper sprayed and had rubber bullets shot at them. Long described it as, “an eye-opening experience.”

Long helped start the Sustainable Living Expo in Port Townsend, WA in an attempt to help farmers and community members network. It was an idea he had to draw people together after he met some organic farmers in a small town and realized a lot of them didn’t know each other. He wanted to facilitate better communication and collaboration between the farmers. He organized the expo while completing an internship there and brought the idea back to Fort Collins. He brought the idea to life with the help of the Sustainable Development Group, which was the same group that organized the trip to Seattle. Named the Fort Collins Sustainable Living Fair under the Sustainable Living Association, the number of participants has doubled every year since its inception; growth that even John did not anticipate.

One of the first non-profit organizations he worked with was Village Earth. “They help train development officials from various world health organizations. They train them how to do development projects that are more sustainable and village based, building sustainable small-scale projects that really help the community thrive,” said Long.

Soon after he returned to Fort Collins, Long began making biodiesel on Avogadro’s back porch utilizing their leftover cooking oil. What started as a few friends gathering for brunch and beer on Saturday mornings, ended up drawing 40 or 50 people every weekend for a DIY biodiesel workshop.

As long as you have a diesel vehicle, you can run it on biodiesel; you don’t have to do any engine modification. Not to be confused with straight vegetable oil, which a lot of people like to run because you can pull it right out of the fryer and put it into modified diesel engines. That’s how the diesel engine was designed, to run on vegetable oil, actually peanut oil. At the 1900 World’s Expo in Paris, Rudolph Diesel introduced his engine to the world with the intent of getting farmers to grow their own fuel and to be more sustainable, said Long.

After the workshop, they would have lunch and talk about starting a biodiesel company. This is where he met a couple of his business partners that helped start Blue Sun, which now has a 40 million gallon a year plant in Missouri with plans to build another 30 million gallon a year plant in Arkansas.

Blue Sun is one of two producers in the country that has an advanced catalytic conversion process that allows us to use the cheapest, dirtiest oils we could get our hands on, which helps make us the low cost producer with a high quality product, said Long.

Up until 2010, Blue Sun was solely a distributor. They have finally turned a corner, and the company is starting to make a profit as a result of producing the fuel,  not just distributing and marketing it.

Zero Hero is the next non-profit organization on John’s extensive resume; the concept redefined the word “waste” and created a zero waste environment at events with high traffic and considerable trash. According to their website, “ZeroHero understands the challenges of creating a zero waste environment and has crafted a scalable model that can be applied in any situation ” [1].


A volunteer next to the ZeroHero recycle, compost & trash tents

Long’s baby, Biodiesel for Bands, is “a nonprofit professional membership association whose mission is to help performers tour safely, affordably and sustainably by providing education, affordable vehicles, biodiesel fuel and professional support” [2]. They work  around 100 or so events a year already, several of them being large music festivals. Their motto is “Bringing bands to fans and fans to bands” because their primary source of capital is from a party bus that John navigates himself. If you become a fan member, you can receive numerous valuable benefits, including ticket giveaways, discounts on party bus rentals, and more.

The same events that Zero Hero works on the waste management side, Biodiesel for Bands work on the fueling side. They fill generators, light towers, trucks, and buses with biodiesel during the events, and it has worked out really well because there is a lot of potential.

It’s a great place to get a targeted audience with the bands because obviously most festivals have 30, 40 or 50 bands that are coming from all over the country and are typically traveling in a diesel vehicle. And if they’re not, they should be because diesel is 40% more efficient than gasoline. If you’re running biodiesel you can also reduce emissions, as compared to gasoline or regular diesel, said John.

Colorado clients include Sonic Bloom, Arise Music Festival in Loveland, Ride the Rockies bike race and New Belgium Brewery. They will be at Arise for the third year in a row, and have been a part of at Sonic Bloom since the beginning, approximately ten years. BFB has hopes to work some of the other big events that Zero Hero has been able to keep as customers since their formation. Biodiesel for Bands is a huge community player, sponsoring many events in the Colorado Front Range region. Most recently, they were a vendor and sponsor of the Northern Colorado Hemp Expo.


The Biodiesel for Bands Party Bus- sober rides!

Long’s Unforeseen Challenges

Long did not elaborate too much on his health issues, but rather placed an emphasis on his latest project, growing hemp and producing CDB oil to patients at little to no cost. “CannaTech is my newest project to develop a CBD hemp co-op for any certified organic farmer in Colorado. 20% of our harvest will be given to patients for free through our Free For All patient program,” said Long.

His desire to help others while being environmentally mindful is unparalleled. He i focuses on the present , while simultaneously considering the future. After only a few moments of speaking with him, it is obvious he is very knowledgeable and passionate about his projects and causes. He is an innovator for green living on a larger scale, but he is also a fighter and survivor in the small, everyday battles that cancer presents. He completed his final round chemotherapy of treatment on April 6th, 2015. (Since this story was written, John has gone back into treatment due to recurrence. Visit his fundme to check on his recent progress. His CEA number is coming down considerably! Woohoo!)

Words cannot describe the strength, the courage, and the will of each and every person who has to unfortunately experience life altering cancer! But it is people like John, who do it with a smile and gratitude that show us that no matter what life hands you, even cancer, you can rise to the occasion and make a difference in the lives of others! said Long’s friend, Hilary Siebels.

John’s infectious smile and feel-good attitude does not go unnoticed among friends and community members. He is constantly positive and directs a lot of his energy to help other cancer patients get the cheapest CBD medicine in the country through his “Free for All” program.

Long’s Opportunities and Advice

John encourages students to, “Get involved and do it now, while you’re still a student. There’s even independent study credit you can obtain  by interning with companies and nonprofits here in town; Biodiesel for Bands being one of them.”

He practices what he preaches and is a trailblazer. Long will be spending the next few years developing his hemp farmer’s co-op, CannaTech, where all of the net profits go back to the farmers and each member has one vote. Fat Pig Co-Op is the name of the worker’s co-op that you can join if you’re not an organic farmer, and you can trade your labor to waive your membership fees.

Long’s advice to fellow budding entrepreneurs is, “Do what you love and be passionate about what you choose. Don’t settle for a mundane job that you’re just doing for a paycheck. It’ll never make you happy. Money will come to you as needed.”


Contact the CannaTech Farmer/Worker Co-Op for an opportunity to be a part of this amazing new project.

Contact John Long (Biodiesel for Bands) for more information about volunteering and internships.


John mentioned that he had to change his eating habits after he was diagnosed with cancer to include a raw food diet and juicing. I found a  helpful infographic with ‘A Vegetable Growing Cheat Sheet,’ via goodtobehome.


I also made an infographic on Adobe Photoshop which features a ‘Beginner’s Guide to Juicing,’ and includes one of my tried and true, favorite juicing recipes, ‘The Pineapple-Kale Blast,’ modified by me. Here are ‘Ten Easy Juicing Recipes for Beginners’ to get you started.


All photos taken by Katie Murphy. No animals were harmed in the making of this infographic, but Luna did enjoy helping. 🙂

John’s Affiliations:


 Where to connect with John:

John Long encourages fellow sustainability enthusiasts to connect and get involved. You can find him here:



 How you can help John:

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 8.42.42 PMScreen Shot 2015-05-03 at 8.48.37 PM11078184_10206024630082401_4846712033844137595_n

“Cancer cannot and will not…. destroy confidence, cripple love, shatter hope, take away peace, corrode faith, kill friendship, shut out memories, silence courage, reduce eternal life nor quench the Spirit.”


Articles shared by John:

More articles to check out:

Resources for you:


Click the FOOTPRINT to Track Your Carbon Footprint

All photos are courtesy of John Long, Katie Murphy or are labeled for reuse.

Sources from narrative:

[1] – ZeroHero webpage

[2] – Biodiesel for Bands webpage

All content created for Online Writing and Journalism at CSU (Fall 2015) by Katie Murphy.

Video was filmed and edited by Katie Murphy, owner and operator of this blog.

Interviewees: John Long (video and article), Michael DuCharme (long-time friend)


Email Katie


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