Thursday, April 23, 2009
When I was 19, I departed Charleston, South Carolina with a loaded bicycle and a plan to pedal it across a continent. I ate, slept and pedaled my way to 20 years old, then kept going across Texas and the Southwest. Although people who passed in their trucks and cars saw only a solitary cyclist, I was reluctant to say yes when asked if I was going alone. Despite my original plan of camping out every night, so many total strangers shared their meals and homes with me that in over two months of cycling, I only slept outside four times.
Since leaving White River Junction, Vermont, I have once again ridden a bike into a new decade, and I am once again overwhelmed by kindness. Our team has been graciously hosted at every stop along the way. When given the chance, most people like to help one another. It is true in Montpelier, Vermont, Montpelier, France, Gurdon, Arkansas, and Gao'an, China. In 1999, people who had just opened their homes to a strange-looking unsmall young man would look up at me and warn, "Tyler, you be careful, there's alot of crazy people out there." My smile broadened each time this warning was repeated by crazy people who had shared their breakfast and sent me on my way with snacks, prayers, and good thoughts. In 2009, the parting messages are more positive. More frequent than warnings have been expressions of gratitude. "Thank you all for stopping here on your tour. It's nice to hear there are other people who care." And that is true. When one considers the enormity of changing lifestyles to fit within the bounds of global resources it is easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless.
I wish i could share the palpable sense of commitment being demonstrated by people we have met all along the way. If I could, then you would feel as re-energized as I do to continue working towards a more sustainable future.
On this trip, I am obviously not alone as passing motorists and active audiences see the four of us pedaling or presenting. It has been wonderful traveling with Jim, Susan, and Ross and feeling the support of folks newly encountered and support from friends and family awaiting our return.
Until then, keep pedaling, or walking, or planting, or shoveling, or protesting, or lobbying, or voting, or writing, or creating, or ... whatever it is that you do. When done with intention and attention, these simple actions will beneficially change the world.
Thank you- Tyler
After meeting with an inspired group of students at the college and an essential re-fuel for our push into the Adirondacks we hit the road knowing we had a tight deadline. With gears spinning and rolling Addison County farm scenery urging us on, the miles ticked by. Rounding the bend on Rt. 125 and contouring the lake flowing north, the same wind acted like a motor on each of our bikes. We formed a tight paceline, or atleast as tight as would allow with the addition of our loaded trailers, and cranked. Taking advantage of whatever boost we could, the pace kept building and it must have been quite the sight as our awkward peleton whipped by families fishing near the Champlain Bridge.
Heading into the hills outside of Port Henry the scenery changed to that characteristic of the Adirondacks; exposed rocky hilltops, small fast moving streams, lush understories of fir and spruce. But one thing stayed the same - the wind at our backs. Winding through the uplands on Rt. 6 we were able to soak in the views of surrounding mountains while still feeling the undeniable support from behind us. The last leg on Rt. 73 leading through a narrow notch where trees had been scultped by the force of the winds that had the potential to set us in our place and dish out some hard earned miles at the end of a long day. Instead, those miles were pure enjoyment as we tried to take in all the surroundings of Chapel Pond (which was still holding the last of its ice) and the Ausable River as we approached Keene Valley. Making it to town just in to time to grab a shower at our generous hosts for the night at the Keene Valley Hostel and then head off to a delicious dinner at the local librarian's house was the cap to an amazing day filled with people and the elements pushing us along in our endeavor.
It seems that we have been particularly foturnate in catching good pockets of weather and extremely blessed by the help of generous individuals along our route. It should not come as that much of a surprise but the help that others have been extending to us as we pedal and share our stories has been inspiring. Exploring these topics of sustainability and simplified community living, I feel inspired for the future by the tremendous support we have been receiving. Not only the wind powered us on our ride to the Adirondacks, but the positive thoughts and actions of our friends made it possible and this is what will continue to carry us on as we face new challenges.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
We've been lucky to get some fun media coverage. Check out the Carl Etnier's interview with Jim Merkel about the tour on Equal Time radio show. Also, WCAX channel 3 covered the tour on the morning news on Friday, April 10th. We haven't gotten to see it ourselves, but as we headed north from the Norwich Inn, someone pulled over to say that she had seen us on the news. On Earth Day, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise also included a front page (above the crease!) article, and Jim was interviewed by Paul Smiths college radio station, WPSA. Listen to North Country Public Radio's interview with Jim on April 23rd, as well, here.
And... they're off!!
- The first meeting of Transition Town White River Junction is happening May 8, 5-7pm, location TBD. Contact Kye Cochran at the Coop, and join this effort to create a vision for the future of White River Junction.
- The Upper Valley Land Trust helps people conserve land, and runs educational and other programming.
- The Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club continues to support many exciting initiatives in the region, including our tour and the Vermont Energy and Climate Action Network.
- Cover runs home repair and reuse programs and builds bridges between sectors of the population through volunteer service, the Cover Store and more. A benefit concert featuring Mary Gauthier and Anais Mitchell is happening at the Lebanon Opera House on April 18th.
- D-Acres is an organic farm and educational center in Dorchester, NH that has so much going on, you must check out their website.
- The Marion Cross School in Norwich: we visited their Ecoclub of 3rd and 4th graders, and their parents, and were inspired with what these children are doing for their community. They constructed recycling bins, do classroom trash audits, started a successful composting program for the school and present (yes, 3rd and 4th graders!) to the PTA and the faculty (filming their own presentations) as they work to further green their school.
Monday, March 30, 2009
We thank the wind at our backs generated by our sponsors and supporters: The Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club, Ibex, the Upper Valley Food Co-op, The Upper Valley Land Trust, The Mountain School, Dan Breslaw, Bear Pond Books, Bethany Church, The Buffalo Mountain Coop, Transition Town Hardwick, Sterling College, Office of Sustainability of St. Michael's College, GOT S.K.I.L.L.S.?, The University of Vermont Office of Sustainability, Vermont Earth Institute, Focus the Nation, ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, Charlotte Sustainable Living Network’s Transition Town Charlotte, Metta Earth Institute, the Middlebury College Sunday Night Group, the Keene Valley Hostel, Green Goddess Foods, Peter Seward, Gail Brill, Barbara Tam, Tri-Lake Transition Towns, the Keene Elementary School, Paul Smith’s College Office of the President, TRiO Student Support Services, Student Activities, Students for Environmental Action (SEA), St. Lawrence University, the North Country Sustainable Energy Fair, Patricia Greene, D Acres, West Coast Climate Equity, William H. Calvin, the Global Living Project and many others!