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Posts tagged ‘advocacy’

utilitaire and a little more

Trailhead Bicycle shop

Utilitaire 6.12: it began as a trip to the bike shop, #8 on the control card (for the second time).  And then transformed into a fun family-friendly community ride on the Greenway, and finally a quick stop for dinner – along with picking up a few boxes of girl scout cookies. Mmmm.  🙂

Dillon is home from school for a quick weekend visit, and we took a ride to the bike shop.  Our shop owner, Charles, had also gotten a small group of us together at the end of the day for what is hopefully the first of many more family fun rides on our local Greenway.  The idea is to bring families together for some easy and kid-friendly rides, promoting a little more bike friendliness within our community, and working on building/strengthening an advocacy network.  I think there is also a leaning toward trying to fill the rides with “bicycle variety” – fixies, cargo bikes, and other non-typical bicycle”oddities”.    As the weather warms up and the days grow longer, we hope to include other activities like themed rides, bike picnics, frozen yoghurt stops, maybe even a wine-and-cheese type of stop for the adults.  Who knows?  We’ve also talked about incorporating some of the Utilitaire-type destinations and goals into the mix, but ultimately to appeal to a wide range of cycling abilities and interests, and get more people out on their bikes.

ready for fun

soon-to-be-new-dad Jeff test driving & planning ahead

We left from the shop, rode the Greenway from end to end, and stopped to a few minutes of discussion and planning within our fledgling start-up group.  I think we all had fun; I know I did.  Mostly, I hope we can grow the group and the idea … I would love to see more of my local friends join in the fun.  I took a lot of photos and am posting a few – hope these friends don’t mind, as I didn’t really get permission.

After the group ride, Mark, Dillon and I headed back, stopping for a quick bite on the way.  I didn’t manage to get a full-fledged night ride in as I had hoped … but we did get home before it started to rain.  Night rides will have to wait for another day.


Dillon tries out Jeff's fixie

Charles, owner of Trailhead Bicycle


the recycled Pendleton shirt cap

And just when I said I wanted to be brief….

Well, this is simply a shout-out to a bunch of my cyber-cycling pals, and especially to my twitter friend from Seattle, @SognRider, who started a great campaign to encourage cycling and showcase cool cycling caps.  Every Tuesday has officially become #CyclingCapTuesday.  And I look forward to it each week (even though I wear my caps on other days as well).  But I loved the idea – a fun and creative way to promote cycling – and I always enjoy seeing some of the fine cycling “millinery” being worn by my friends.  You can too … just visit the Tumblr site, or follow the hashtag on Twitter.  And put your cap on!

I really like wearing cycling caps.  They’re light and comfortable, they offer a non-obstructive little sun visor, they can provide a little extra warmth on cool days (especially with earflaps), or rain protection (if you have a waterproof cap), and of course you can’t help feeling a little bit “jaunty” while wearing one (lol).

today's #CyclingCapTuesday ... in pink

While I have some really great caps that I’ve acquired over the past several years, I recently decided to try an make one of my own.  I just happen to have a ridiculous accumulation of “salvaged” wool from … well, let’s just say another “pastime”.  (My friends LP and MaryLou know of what I speak – because they will end up inheriting the excess someday.  😉 )  The pattern came from one of the best cap-makers out there, Little Package.  It’s a simple sewing project; you can easily make one in less than an afternoon with average sewing skills.  And what better way to up-cycle that old wool shirt with a hole in the sleeve?

So @SognRider, thanks for the fun each week (and also for helping me make a dent in my wool stash) – I applaud you!  🙂

yeah, I have an obnoxious amount of reclaimed wool ... as is, and overdyed

yeah, I have an obnoxious amount of reclaimed wool ... as is, and overdyed

another Pendleton shirt ready for cap-making & the Little Package Cap pattern

the pieces

the sewing


and finally the best part ... the wearing! (altho a pretty sorry shot; I apologize)

the gallon of milk


cartoon world of our local grocery store

Although I am tempted to rant about our local grocery store choices (or more accurately, lack of choices…), and the disappointing assortment of over-processed, over-packaged convenience foods within our horrid chain stores – we have no Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, EarthFare or anything remotely decent within a 25 mile radius – I will spare you my whining.  My family is weary enough of my complaints.  But I like to cook – and I like to cook real food.  Food “from scratch” as we used to say, rather than out of a box or a freezer case.

And today as I was heading to the grocery store on my bike thinking about all of this, wishing I had a decent grocery store/market within riding distance, I was reminded of a wonderful 3-minute video I had seen earlier in the week by the amazing people at Streetfilms: Moving Beyond the Automobile (Vimeo).

Of course it features the incredible cycling infrastructure improvements of the Big Bicycle Cities (NYC, Portland, SF, etc.), but what really struck a chord with me were some of the statistics about the exponential increases in ridership when safe, protected cycling infrastructure is provided to the public.  The old, “if you build it, they will come …” idea.  Tenfold.  One-hundredfold.  Exponentially.

As (my hero) Rep. Earl Blumenauer so perfectly states:

“People shouldn’t have to burn a gallon of gas to get a gallon of milk … “

He goes on to talk about the need to give people safe and accessible transportation choices of all types – choices that will reduce the demand for using the automobile, which can ultimately save people time and money, while improving their health and “ultimately enriching their daily experience.”  I couldn’t agree more.

So I cycled to my poor-excuse-for-a-grocery-store and got the gallon of milk.  And a few other items of “real” food.  And I dreamed about how wonderful it would be to have a bike lane, or even a little bit of road shoulder, to easily cycle to some Real Foods store …  Maybe someday.


the enriching experience part ... "cartoon" Xtracycle, back home with the milk & groceries



no impact experiment – day 7: giving back

sewing bags for Morsbags

sewing bags for Morsbags

Today’s Experiment challenge: “to be charitable, to act in good faith, to become one with others, give back and share some of your exuberance with others.”

I didn’t make an actual list of ways I (am)/can/should contribute to my community.  I fear it is an area I where I often fall short, although I think good intentions to make a difference are always in the back of my mind.

My dear friend, Peggy in CA, had sent me a link to an interesting website a while back – Morsbags: Sociable Guerilla Bagging.  The idea behind the grass-roots project, based in the U.K., was to form local sewing groups, or “pods” as they are called, where people get together to sew re-usable shopping bags from reclaimed fabric and subsequently distribute the finished bags to the public for free. The Morsbags project has turned into a global effort, with pods around the world, and over 52,000 bags sewn and given away.  From the founder of Morsbags:

I created Morsbags because i live on a canal and endless plastic bags float by like urban jellyfish.  I grew up on the coast in Devon where the beaches were, and still are, strewn with plastic bags.  Whenever I am in a supermarket, I am boggled by the staggering amount of plastic bags being freely offered to shoppers who habitually forget that they are not the only option.

I have officially registered a local pod with Morsbags, the shebicycles pod in Cleveland/Bradley County, TN, and have begun sewing bags.  Next step is to try to recruit some other local folks to join in … this part I am still working on.  After this week, and participating in the Experiment, I think I have a little more motivation to get this thing rolling, and start trying to recruit a few others to join.  (If you’re reading this and are interested, just contact me … heh heh ;-).

olinAs for other local activism projects, I am still trying to stay involved in the battle against Olin, and advocating for the passage of legislation that will ban their destructive mercury-based manufacturing.  I’ve posted about this before (see battling Olin, July 15), and the recent good news is that as of Oct. 21, members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 29-14 to pass H.R. 2190 out of committee, which would require chlor-alkali plants to end their use of mercury-based technology in chlorine and caustic soda production.

When it is passed (not “if”) this bill will affect our local Olin plant, and the bill states that this plant, and any remaining plants still using mercury, must inform the EPA administrator by 2012 whether the plant will close or convert.  My Oceana friend, Suzanne, will be taping a segment on our local NPR station (WTCI) this coming week, explaining the mercury issue and the legislation at hand – I can’t wait to hear her!

I don’t know what stipulations are included or will be made to effect any type of clean-up of the mercury-laden river sediment, but at least the dumping will come to an end.  We’re all feeling more hopeful these days.

The Experiment encourages us to “Practice what you preach.  Give.  Do.  Help.  Change.  In other words, sign up today to volunteer for a local environmental cause.” And what would I most like to do from an advocacy standpoint?  Yes – bikes.  Over and over, I keep coming back to the same place in my mind … I would love to start/be involved in an advocacy group to promote bicycle commuting, to improve local cycling (and pedestrian) infrastructure, and aid in education/driver awareness.  My local bike shop guy, Charles at Trailhead, has helped form a new non-profit group called BeCog (Bicycling Enthusiasts of Cleveland & Ocoee Group).  While I think their initial goals involve staging “events”, I am hoping that we can include bicycle commuting/advocacy into the group.  We’ll see.

I need to just need to find the energy to push past my hesitation to get started.  I guess my mantra needs to come from the words in the Experment: Practice what you preach. Do.  Help.  Change.