Sunday, March 02, 2008

perspectives and priorities

it's been an interesting week for the mostly reverend.
a week ago friday, i officiated at another wedding [still batting 1.000, by the way], did an actual bike ride with lippold last saturday, after playing with the grandkids [nyla envisions herself as a dynamic blend of michael jackson from "the wiz" and shawn alexander, and everything is a potential balance beam, while jabari is struggling to perfect forward movement--he has developed enough strength to get and hold his "significant" seven-month-old body up to hands and toes] during the day, i managed to feel sick again sunday night. by monday, bike collective things started rolling: a couple of very productive meetings yielded some very fortuitous developments which culminated with a workday yesterday at our home at 617 grand avenue. this is not a "kudos" post, but i do want to thank boesen's the florists, and tom boesen in particular, for making our wonderful prime downtown space available to us FOR FREE. i also want to thank dan venter and all the folks at venter-spooner, inc. for the work they will be doing this next week to help make this work space for all of us.
this is the view from the front porch of the orphanage this morning. it has looked like this for, what, six years this winter? and yet, every time i step out there in the mornings [today, i had just a couple sips of coffee outside], i think about it looking and feeling like
this, taken last summer. it won't be long, it won't be long...
but what i realized this week, in very short order, is that there are LOTS of folks--individuals, groups, organizations, kids, adults, older folks, crazy people like me, people with money and people with more energy and time than money, and people who love to ride bikes and already know it, along with people who are GOING to love to ride bikes but haven't had the chance to fall in love for the first time or again with our two-wheeled buddies.
as i said yesterday a couple times, an old bike is a good friend.
and in that sense, i see myself as a match-maker. one friend and co-helper said yesterday that this bike collective is allowing people to feel good and do good things. i was actually thrilled yesterday as i realized the incredible street notice we generated. folks who slowed as they walked by, people who came up and stuck their noses in...we are going to have an amazing presence and impact on the attitudes of people--motorists, pedestrians, visitors, legislators, and more.
i can't recall the number of groups who have stepped up and offered to join us, to either help us, or to have us help them, to achieve their group's goals. and, in brief, the thing all of us have in common is that we want more people to ride bikes, safely, for whatever reasons or purposes [recreation, commuting, racing or training, family fun, shopping, trail riding, street riding, in des moines, the out-lying suburbs, the surrounding counties, mountain biking, bmx-ing, stunt riding, whatever], we all share some level of passion and interest in increasing the viability and visibility of bikes and the people who ride them.
the little mishap i had in january has been well-timed, as it has given me, yet again, a chance to reflect on just how important cycling is to me. i can't live well without riding a bike. starting when i was in junior high, i was a member of a group, "future teachers of america." pretty noble name, eh? basically, it got me out of my classes to go be a teacher's aide. i continued my involvement through high school. it allowed me to ride my bike during the day to my classroom assignment, which was always cool. my undergrad degree was in elementary education. living in iowa city, i rode my bike to my classroom assignments on the west side at ernest horn, and to a few other schools scattered around the city. when i was student teaching, i rode my bike to my first placement in north liberty. this was up 218, back before there were bike trails or lanes. rain, sleet, whatever, that's what i did. when i did my student teaching overseas, in the lake district of england, i took my bike. i rode it to my school some 20 km down the coast of the irish sea, and all over england.
i've had the opportunity to reflect, this past few weeks, on how important it is that i share this love, this infectious passion, with my grandkids, and with other folks. the collective is helping me do this. the job i used to have was rewarding because of how it made me feel to help the people i worked with. i'm getting the same warm and fuzzy right now, too. i've encountered very few skeptics thus far; i'm bound to, i know it. but with the growing numbers of people who have enthusiastically jumped on board, it will be increasingly difficult for the public and "the powers that be" to ignore the rights of bicyclists to safely enjoy and use the streets and byways of iowa. i'm delighted and excited to have the chance to continue to educate people, young and old, about the joys of bikes.
p.s.--steel is real.

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