mutual

The man in the truck pulls over.

“What’s up?” He asks in a thick accent. It’s local.

“We have a flat,” I say, gesturing to a bike.

“Get in,” he says.

I jump into the bed of the truck and W hands me the bikes one at a time. The man moves some fishing rods around so I won’t hurt them.

“Where are you going?” I ask him.

“Lowell. Where do you need to go?”

I tell him and we manage logistics. We tell him we’ve been down here once before to go camping. He tells us that, when the weather’s nice, he comes up every weekend to go fishing. He loves to go early, he says, because no one is around.

“I just don’t like people.”

“Neither do we,” we say.

We ride in a content silence.

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stop

The mass of bikers, cyclists, and bicycle commuters approaches the intersection of Beacon and Kirkland. On the other side are two cops, recognizable from a distance if you know what they look like. The front of the pack slows down and then stops as the light turns red. Several people break off to the side–passing on the right–and through the signal.

The cops across the street yell for them to stop, once they have officially broken the law.

The rest of us start up again. “Stupid kids,” someone mutters to me on my left. I look over at her and she smiles. “They have to learn to trust the rest of us. The folly of youth.”

snapshot, 09

We bike side by side up a hill. I’m struggling. Everyone else is ahead, but you’re next to me. In the future, this will color how I ride, always checking behind me, never letting someone get too far behind. Going next to them. Up ahead, a light is flashing yellow to warn vehicles to stop for pedestrians. I stop.

“We can go,” you say. “Sometimes we can go even when the lights tell us not to.”

Fundraising

Yeah, I’m fundraising. Help me out? Please?

I’m part of this Bikes Not Bombs Bike-A-Thon thing. Ride a bike for some distance, get people to sponsor you, raise money to help people locally and globally through the power of bikes.

No, seriously, bikes are awesome. There’s this theory I have that when you teach a disenfranchised person basically anything, you change their life. Not just teach them I guess, but mentor them. Here’s a statistic:

Jim Sporleder, high school principal at Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, Washington, started a new way to attach student suspensions. Rather than suspending students immediately for infractions, teachers and staff send students to the principal who then asks them what’s up and how they’re doing. There are still suspensions, of course, but some 85% of these students are no longer being suspended.

Drawn from The Huffington Post

85%! That’s amazing. Now, this isn’t exactly mentorship here, but it is someone reaching out to show care. It’s a supportive influence from a person you view as “more powerful” than you. There are all sorts of projects that do this kind of this. The films Born into Brothels and Waste Land are two examples of this through art, one with kids and one with adults.

That’s part of why Bikes-Not-Bombs is cool. They make a difference through the power of bikes by mentoring (mostly) youth and (even) adults in the Boston area. They form connections, find new kinds of hope, learn skills, and, of course, get bikes.

They do the same and more globally. They do lots of nice stuff. When I listen to people talk about all the nice stuff they do, I get teary eyed.

But, the point of this post is fundraising.

I’m -really- bad at a fundraising. I am too longwinded to explain in any concise way why Bikes-Not-Bombs is good and why a you should give money to them. I’m also awful at asking people for money, both personally and basically in any other way. I hate the concept of asking people for money for charities and the associated guilt you give them. I have been known to scream when canvassers for groups like Children’s International come up to me on the street.(1)

So yeah, I think Bikes-Not-Bombs is super awesome. I’d like it a lot if you would donate to them through me so I can go on this awesome bike ride and feel good about myself.

(1)I think these charities likely deserve support. I don’t know enough about them to be comfortable saying that they do deserve support. I also understand that canvassing is a hard and often thankless job that college students frequently do because they need that dough. I feel guilty over not being able to help people who so obviously need help (I only have so much time and my paycheck is only so big). Screaming is not planned, but a frequent reactionary response to the threat of the (sometimes debilitating) guilt I feel when they talk to me.