The Bicycles Create Change 8-week Summer Program for 2016 is complete!!

 

Hooray!! After a very intense and rewarding 8 weeks, the Bicycles Create Change Summer Program has concluded! Congratulations to Sachie, Gabriel, Juliet and Mauricio for all their hard work, dedication and collaboration. So this completes the official structured course of our innovative 8-week Pilot Internship Program – which means we all get our Saturdays back!!

This Program was unique from other internships in many ways, primarily because the core program principles and design features were tailored to specifically meet the individual needs of each of the participants who have no prior Australian workplace experience. Fundamental to this program was developing more effective intercultural communication skills and competencies through collaboratively working with an array of professionals and locals so that students have a more authentic and meaningful experience of living and working in Australia. As we wrap up and reflect on the experience, the team has come up with eight key insights that they have identified as the main skill areas that they best connected with and improved throughout the program.

 

We learned a lot about ourselves, vocation skills and working in teams, with each member co-creating their own experience and unveiling differing outcomes, acuity and competencies. Today we discussed the valuable learnings and provided feedback for consideration regarding the impacts and challenges personally and those that are experienced by international students navigating connection and interaction in Australian workplaces. We came up with a number of suggestions to be more responsive to the helpful and hindering factors which international students encounter during their work – either at university or in the workplace.

Connections

It was very interesting hearing what the team had to say, saw how the internship was designed to highlight the importance and necessity of connections and working with experts/mentors. We discussed the usefulness and magnitude that working alone, in pairs and/or as a team of four had for the interns. With this understanding, they had a collective realization that collaboratively working with others was more than just a skill, but was also a powerful learning process and required co-creation. This was a revelation and (a now) imperative for a number of the students.

Weekly Tasks

Each week different tasks were set for the interns, which to complete successfully, relied on them to discern, practise and then reflect on the significance of effective team organisation, ability to spontaneously interactions with strangers, relating to clients, building rapport, running meetings, networking and partnerships.

Art Bikes

We still have some outstanding tasks like our public ART BIKE PRESENTATION held on Sunday 13th March at 10.30am at the Bethania Community Garden, Lota, Brisbane. Please come on down and join us if you are in the area! At this informal event, the team will each present their Art Bikes and discuss the social issue that it represents. We are looking forward to seeing some of the lovely people who donated the bike for this project there and it will be a great way to practice all the skills we have been working throughout the program.

Team Member Guest Blog Posts

As part of the Summer Program, each team member has also been researching 5 blog posts to be published on this blog. The content for each of these posts need to be sourced in their first-language – which means we can access information about bicycles project in other countries that we might not otherwise have access if they are not in English. These posts will be published later this year so keep an eye out for them!

 

For today – it is with relief and happiness that we conclude our official contact hours for this program. I am very proud of all the team members, mentors, supporters of this program and, of course the community who have helped and contributed as we progressed – Well done to all!!

Bihar – Girls Bicycle Education Scheme

Can giving free bikes get more girls to stay in school? The Bihar Girls Bicycle Education Scheme in India was sponsored by researchers, Karthik Muralidharan (University of California, San Diego) and Nishith Prakash (University of Connecticut), who investigated the effect of providing every schoolgirl aged 14 in Bihar with a bike.

The Results

The results of this bicycle program, launched in 2006, were impressive and immediate. It increased girls’ age-appropriate enrollment in secondary school by 30 percent and reduced the gender gap in age-appropriate secondary school enrollment by 40 percent (Muralidharan and Prakash, 2013). Most significant for me were two main aspects: first, it was undertaken in the poorest, most destitute state in India and second, the scale of the program, which was massive to say the least. Both these aspects make the project not only unique, but seminal, as it sets a precedence for future work to undertaken now that the location and volume have been shown not be to a hinderance in rolling out such programs.

From research to videos

To find out more about the research behind the 6 minute video Moving up a gear (below), you can read: Cycling to school: Increasing high school enrollment for girls in Bihar

Muralidharan and Prakash have since create a second follow-up video: Moving Up A Gear: Update. which provides extra information and a update.

To further explain their approaches, there is a number of papers that have been published to explain the research that provides analysis and monitoring for this scheme – as well as other documentation where the main research is more fully explained.

This remarkable health education initiative really personifies how bicycles can innovate positive social change – in this case, raising awareness about Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

MS Community Education

This initiative brilliantly mixes science, bicycle design, expert collaboration and cyclists to produce a community education campaign where a normal bicycle was augmented in a variety of ways to represent the MS symptoms.

To achieve this, each of the major executive functions on the bike such as the fork, handlebars, seat, frame and gears were altered so that the impact of the disease could be experienced first hand when you try to ride the bike – thus demonstrating the daily challenges that suffers have trying to operate their bodies as this autoimmune disease destroys their nervous system.

Ad Week promoted this ad campaign by giving it international recognition for its ingenuity and creative approach – and very effectively linked this issue to the lived experience of Penelope Conway who is an MS Suffer and informatively and humorously writes about what Multiple Sclerosis really feels like.

The Ad

This bike has Multiple Sclerosis video (2 mins) explains the rationale and research that has gone into the strategic design of this bike.

 

This community awareness campaign is not only effective in reaching a wide audience and communicating its message, but it is clear and has immediate impact. One of the best aspects is that it is specifically designed to be experiential and engaging for the public.

This campaign is a great example of how a creative approach to presenting a public health issue can generate excitement, consideration and interest about an issue such as MS. In doing so, it is highly successful in prompting public education and discussion about what MS is – and the metaphor of a ‘rider’ trying to ‘control a bike’ as being similar to what an MS suffer experiences to control their body, is a stroke of genius. Most people who have no contact or exposure to MS, will be able to easily relate to how difficult it can be to ride a bike if there are mechanical problems.

If only there were more interactive, dynamic and enterprising projects such as this one that can equally correlate the public’s normative experience (of riding a bike) with a emerging/public issue (MS Awareness).

Want to try riding it?

Those in Melbourne next month (March 2016), will have the opportunity to try to ride this bike for yourself at the MS Melbourne Cycle on March 6, 2016 by registering at bike@thisbikehasMS.com.

The team

Much of the research I have been looking at so far has been on projects in stable communities. However, when emergency situations breakout, then personnel are deployed to wherever help is needed. One area of project work that is very interesting (and disturbing) to me, is: aid workers in high stress situations, such as internally displaced persons (IDP) camps.This is a case study which I was seriously considering as a focus for my research: to see how bicycles could be used in IDP camps to increase women’s safety and access to facilities.

But ironically, I knew that such a context as Darfur Aid would be too distressing for me to maintain researching, so it was a very deliberate and strategic move away to focus more on positive bicycle aid contexts. I remember thinking to myself  that I would burnout if all I heard were repeated stories of suffering……

But even so, although not directly related to my current research area, the scope, scale and variety of international aid and development work still fascinates me, so out of interest, I often find myself still looking into what work my fellow IAW brothers and sisters are undertaking around the world. Some of what I found recently indicates that there is increasing research regarding International Aid Worker (IAW) burnout and job stress.

I chose this particular article because it is a reminder of the massive range of projects, work and aid that is disseminated worldwide, most of which we never hear about in the West. I find it grounding to read outside my comfort zone (or research area), not just to keep up with current affairs, but also to remind myself that there is a whole army of people and organisations around the world doing incredibly noble, dangerous and immediate aid and development work. Most of it is in extraordinarily more difficult conditions than mine. It helps to keep my head in check and reframes my reality just that little bit clearly. It also keeps me honest and modest.

I have summarised a selection of the research undertaken by two UAE academics who were reporting on the psychological impact that IAW experienced whilst working during the Darfur war in Sudan.

Main findings:

  • 31.6 years was the mean age of the 53 IAW (Sudanese and International Aid Workers) researched (20-55 year old).
  • 50% of Aid Workers in Darfur could be classified as ‘non-psychotic psychiatric cases’.
  • The vast majority of Aid Workers in Darfur were local Sudanese who have a significantly higher rate of burnout and secondary traumatic stress compared to their International AW counterparts. Three main reasons for this were:
  1. They themselves are victims and are displaced
  2. They speak the local dialect so experience the full force of stories in detail
  3. They can relate more personally to the stories of the victims
  • Working in a stressful environment and exposure to prolonged extreme job stress means that many (qualified and experienced) aid workers stop doing their jobs – this has an immediate detrimental effect for victims.
  • There is a tendency of ‘maladjusted’ individuals who chose to be aid workers.
  • Due to exposure to trauma, IAW can indirectly or secondarily develop the same symptoms as the traumatised victims they are working with.
  • In females and hospital based emergency teams, burnout usually involves experiencing ‘a variety of psychological disturbances and distress that exceed the aid workers ability to cope and thus leads the person to total collapse’ (Louville et al, 1997:144 as cited in Musa & Hamid, 2008).
  • Burnout was positively related to general stress and secondary stress.
  • Burnout was negatively related to ‘compassion satisfaction’.

 

Compounding Factors:

-Direct contact with highly traumatised victims

-Hostile environment

-Aid victims tend to blame the IAW for supply shortages or service problems

 

There are 5 types of ‘burnout’ identified in IAW:

  1. Emotional (depression, anxiety, irritability)
  2. Interpersonal (self-distancing, withdrawal, ineffective communication)
  3. Physical (sleep disturbances, exhaustion, illnesses)
  4. Behavioural (alcohol abuse, aggression, cruelty)
  5. Work-related components (poor performance, tardiness, absenteeism)

 

Secondary trauma – 4 main aspects:

  1. Empathy with victims – increased vulnerability to internalising trauma and increasing trauma related pain
  2. Recovery time – listening to distressing stories repeatedly without sufficient time to process
  3. Reactivation – Having own past trauma experiences triggered by working with victims who are/have experience/d a similar situation to the IAW, especially in the case of the local Sudanese AW.
  4. Fragmented Contexts – current psychological approaches for IAWs are focused on individual services not team-orientated.  In a working situation like war, operations are never experienced individually; it is always with others, so there is a fragmentation between the experienced context with the follow up service (the team that works together is best debriefed and counselled together as well as individually – not just dealt with separately or in isolation to other team members).

 

General conclusions:

Certain conditions increase AW suffering.

Aid organisations need to create positive work climates to adequately include:

  • Adequate training
  • Cultural orientation
  • Psychological services

I hope the findings I have summarised here will stimulate your thinking about these critical ideas, and that you share and discuss what these findings mean in relation to your understanding of the world.

 

 

Musa, S. A., & Hamid, A. A. (2008). Psychological problems among aid workers operating in Darfur. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 36(3), 407-416.

No, this post is not a crash story.

It is the annual Portland Worst Day of the Year Ride.

This is the 15th year that the Worst Day of the Year Ride has been running. It is touted as Oregon’s only costumed ride and attracts around 2,500 people on the day, all of whom are out to have fun, get dressed-up and ride their bikes.  It is called the Worst Day of the Year Ride because it is held on the ‘worst weather of the year day’ as a show that the local cyclists will not be deterred from enjoying their cycling, no matter what the challenges – including severe inclement weather! I also find this intriguing as it is the peak of Summer in Australia – and in Brisbane today, it was a draining 32C (89.6F) with 88% humidity and bugger all wind – so the idea that our US cycling brothers and sisters are braving Winter’s worst weather is amusing to us Aussies – especially today.

 

The primary reason I wanted to post this event is that not only is it a super fun cycling event, it brings the community together for a great cause. I particularly love the fact that the title of this event coincides this year with the event being held on Valentine’s Day. I have always found it difficult to stomach that the day for/of supposed ‘lovers’ is now overrun by advertising and consumerism. I for one will be bugged if anyone else tells me on what day I should tell those precious to me that I love them. I love them equally everyday regardless….and I tell them so everyday!! So the cold chill the Oregon riders will have to contend with matches the same feeling I get when looking at florists and newsagents shops on the 14th Feb.  I was ticked pink by title and the sentiment!

 

I also like the idea that if we were in Portland, my Beloved and I would show the depth of our love by getting on our bikes and taking to the (frigid *teehee*) street with a couple of thousand other strangers, most in fancy dress,  to go for a spin around town. Now that’s what I call a ‘lovely’ day!!

 

The 1 minute video below gives a general snapshot of the event from 2015:

Events like this one and the Australian Ride the Night (which was last week) are such a great way to bring a large group of cyclists together to do something unique, meaningful and memorable. There should be more fun, inventive and adventurous cycling events like these.

Will be good to check out the Worst Day of the Year Ride Facebook page to see what the costumes were like this year. Have fun Portland!

This morning I had the pleasure of meeting Hubert and his tricycle. I spotted Hubert cycling along Whites Road near Lota, Brisbane at 8.20am. Seeing him out reminded me of the post I did about Cycling without Age programs– I just had to tell him how awesome I thought it was that he was out cycling.

Why chat to Hubert?   

As I approached, he caught my eye firstly because the only cyclists usually out at that time on a Saturday are packs of roadies. So it was cool that he was happily cruising around on his tricycle – and then I saw his ‘P-Plate’ (in Australia drivers who are about to get their license go from L =Learner to then P = Probationary, then full license. Drivers are on their P plates for three years). I thought the P-plate was a magic touch on the back of his bike. It was hilarious because it was on a bike, not a car. It was obvious from his age that he was certainly not a new road user and it also showed he had a good sense of humour.

I am always impressed when older people are riding; they are such an inspiration. So I stopped to have a chat to him and talk about the bicycle in his life.

Hubert’s story & his Tricycle.

Hubert is still riding at 75 years old. He loves his tricycle and the freedom it affords him and thinks that more people should have tricycles. He bought it awhile back and then fitted a small motor to it for assistance. He said was not hard to do and more people could consider doing. He is local to the area and rides everywhere – including to Bunnings to get hardware supplies, which he straps onto the back of his basket. He explained that the basket is very handy for shopping and carrying things and is an ideal option for older people. We chatted about the stability that the three wheels afforded and how the assisted motor helped him when needed – and what a great tool this was for older people to maintain their independence; wellbeing; connection with community; mobility and self-confidence.

He had a wicked horn that was loud and fun – it made us both giggle. We chatted for a while, swapping a few stories about life on two/three wheels and bonded as only random lovers of bikes can on the side of the road. He was an absolute delight to chat to and when I asked him if I could put his picture and story on this blog, he took on a serious tone, looked me in the eye and said with conviction:

“You do that, you tell people about tricycles and let them know how good they are. There needs to be more tricycles – you promote it!”

I salute you, Hubert!  

So here is to you Hubert – a quiet, unassuming man who loves riding his tricycle and whose good conversation, stories and wonderful energy serves as a marvelous example to us all that cycling knows no age. It reminds that riding a bike still continues to bring positive changes to many people, regardless of age, in so many different ways. It made my day meeting Hubert.

 

 

More elderly cyclists.

 I have always admired older people who are still out cycling, despite whatever physical, health or social issues they may face – I remember Betty (92) telling me that she was worried about going outside because the wind might blow her over (she was physically very fragile). I can’t help but think that the stability of a tricycle would be an ideal solution to problems of fatigue, balance and reassurance that a number of older people have.

I suppose seeing those who are over 70 out on bikes makes me happy because I hope that I will be like them when I am their age. I have always felt it is important to acknowledge and interact with older riders, as they are defiant in being active – and active members of the community by cycling – which I think is such a great statement about challenging traditional views about age, fitness, health and mobility.

Who said learning couldn’t be fun? Who said understanding research methodologies had to be confusing, serious and only understood by a handful of last year doctorate students and some stuffy academics with the social skills of a potato? Who said kid’s shows like The Muppets are outdated, not relevant or don’t teach the important stuff – like explaining Phenomenology?

 

As a lead into my Ph.D. orientation in a week – I wanted to get my head around some Research Methodologies, so that when I’m sitting in some research workshop and the presenter starts showing off how smart they are by using terms designed to impress and confound the audience, I want to have some grasp of what the hell they are talking about.Then I can decide if they are a wanker showing off or actually worth listening to.

 

 

I have a basic understanding of research approaches, so I am taking the next week to find quick and easy resources that can give me a good overview or introduction to the major research methodologies with which I will come in contact. Thus far, I have found an excellent source which I posted on last week relating to short and informative Methodology videos  – and this week I turn to the Muppets for academic guidance – as all quality scholars have done before me – to understand the fundamentals of Phenomenology.

 

 

Just goes to show that every one and everything really is your teacher – and not to underestimate the mighty learning power of The Muppets, Play School and Sesame Street.  Just to confirm my understanding I also watched the below, slightly less colourful, yet equally informative 6 min video. Now I feel slightly more ready to take on that stuffy professor!!

 

 

It is such a pity I won’t be using Phenomenology methodology – because now I feel like I have a much better understanding about what it is!!

On the weekend, I went out into the community to get more personal stories about ‘a Bike in my Life’ to add to the Re-cycle Dreams Community Storybook project I have been undertaking for a while.

The idea is simple – to invite community members to contribute a story about a bike in their life. It could be an experience, a dream, a wish or a memory: whatever they want. It has been a great pleasure meeting people at different locations and times, chatting about bikes and life and all their associated spills, skills and thrills.

Some people write poems, others draw, most people write a story about a memorable time on a bike. The Narratives are all highly personal, perspicacious and heartfelt and they always make me smile. Some retell crashes, but all reflect the impact that riding has had in the heart of the contributor. All are handed over complete with a smile and wistful look in the eye.

On the weekend, I went out for my first time in Queensland to collect some stories. Sachie from the Summer Program joined me and we had a lovely couple of hours down on the Wynnum foreshore chatting to local families, collecting people’s short stories. We watched the afternoon change from bright sunny family picnics and games to a blowy, overcast afternoon where dog walkers and fitclub participants were weaving in and out of each other, vying for path access and stability against the increasing offshore winds.

 

I have been collecting these stories for a number of ‘Community Engagement’ days and will be using them to produce an ebook, which I would like to offer on for free on this blog (will keep you posted). It is a very rewarding activity to undertake and I thoroughly enjoy interacting with people and enlisting their contributions. For me it a highly enjoyable way to take action and bring bicycle riding to the forefront of people’s discussions while promoting more random acts of bike stories exchange and extending the love of cycling!

 

Here is a quick sample selection – click on the first story and click the X to enlarge – you can then scroll through each one to read. Enjoy!!

 

I was sad to hear of the tragic deaths of two to the world’s most recognised and beloved bike superstars this week – Kelly McGarry (NZ father of freestyle mountain biking) and BMX hotshot Dave Mirra. Having ridden just a month ago on tracks created by Kelly, who died while mountain biking and knowing that Dave leaves behind a wife and two daughters after committing suicide (self-inflicted gunshot) only magnifies the vacuum and impact they leave behind.

 

The community outpouring for both has been substantial, touching and intensely personal. Both were exceptional on the bike – yet were equally well-known off the bike for being just decent, warm and generous people. In this way, they contributed more than just skills and amazing feats – they raised the standard of a character of common decency, compassion and courage – and all with a healthy lashing of cheeky bugger of course!

 

These men contributed so much to promoting and developing their sports- both on and off the bike. One such example comes from Wypler (Feb 1st 7.20pm) on the  Pinkbike Kelly tribute page who reflects that:  Kelly really had the biggest heart, he never let his fame and status in the mountain bike world get to his head. In November 2015 we were riding in Queenstown at Wynyard – a 12-year-old German girl was riding through the park trying some jumps and slipped off the trail on some loose gravel. She was all banged up, bleeding, concussion, etc…Kelly picked her up, carried her out of the park, then drove her to the hospital and waited in the emergency room with her until her parents arrived. Absolute class act. 

 

Both men were awe-inspiring: in their passion and promotion of riding; their amazing feats on bicycles; their professionalism; modesty; sense of adventure and genuine friendliness when interacting with the wider community. Both deaths are tragic and unexpected, yet their legacy will continue to remind us of how inspirational, transformational and significant the love of bikes can be.

 

It seemed fitting that I watched two documentaries today on two more champion cyclists: Chris Froome and Cadel Evans. Chris Froome’s unassuming beginnings in Kenya and Cadel’s youthful near death horse experience perfectly illustrate that your background and history does not define who you are, or if you become a champion. It is created in every decision you make, in the hard work and love that you give and every ride you undertake is an expression of what kind of person you are. Each of these four men have made it to the top of their cycling codes. They each serve as a reminder that every cycling champion is still just a person – and that each of us has a story, a history, difficulties, people who support us, shitty days on the bike and then exhilarating days. Yet all of us love to ride and every day we ride makes it all worth it. No-one ever truly knows what goes on in your head – but riding often makes life that much easier.

 

What a blessing having a bike can be and how precious life is.

 

Ultimately, those who ride bikes know the feeling of freedom, adventure, fun and happiness that can only come from time on a bike – so no matter if you are a world champion, a workday commuter, a weekend warrior or a competitive road racer – the message is still the same:

Ride, ride, ride while you can.

 

Officially, I start my Ph.D. in two weeks. I am waiting for my HDR orientation pack to arrive so I can start getting my head around what needs to happen and when.

As a pre-emptive strike, I met with my supervisors earlier this week to catch up and so I could update them. The discussion mainly focused on the Summer Project I am working on, which I hope to write up for publication. As we finished, there was mention of writing the different ‘Chapters’ of Research: one of which is ‘Methods’ or ‘Methodology’. Eck!! To be quite honest, Research Methods is an area in which I do not have a lot of experience or a solid understanding. Although it comes later down the track, I left feeling like I want to get a head start on this whole palaver and get a better understanding about all the big theories and terms related to Research Methodology. Even if it just to better understand some of the research I will be reading!

 

I get the differences between the two major Research Paradigms of Qualitative and Quantitative Research Models– but I am sure I am not alone in not being able to fully distinguish between Positivist and Empiricists (Quantitative) or the Postpositivist and the Constructivists (Qualitative)!! Equally, I have yet to fully appreciate if I am taking an Ontological, Epistemological or Axiological Perspective – at the moment they are just fancy academic words that wankers use to impress blind dates at a dinner party!

 

So before I allow myself to sound like a wanker or be unduly concerned (overwhelmed??) by such future considerations as Methods, Domains, Perspectives or Methodologies –a very helpful research project resource presented itself to me today. This resource provides comprehensive introductory content from SAGE Research Methods, that covers all the research project basics – and in these video (as well as other sources) – i found exactly what I need to get started! Hooray for Serendipity – thanks Universe for providing exactly what is needed with such impeccable timing!

 

Topics covered are: Methods Concepts, Designing Research Projects, Understanding particular Methods or Identifying a new Method, Conducting Research and Writing up Findings. SAGE Research Methods also provides content from over 720 books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks and journal articles – and best of all – it has 57 commissioned Research Methods Videos – which are a great place for any person who is interested in getting a general overview of what the hell it all means. I may yet be able to engage an academic wanker in some kind of meaningful dinner conversation! Hooray for academic youtube!

 

Although it is far too early yet to decide exactly what method I will be using in my Ph.D. – it is empowering to watch these and feel more informed and confident to start talking and thinking about it.

Below is a selection I think I will start with:

  • Choosing Which Method to Use  (2015)
    How do we choose which method to use? Is it OK to have a pragmatic approach to methods? Pat speaks about the practicalities of mixed methods, some of the criticisms and her own “magpie” approach
  • An Introduction to Survey Research Methods  (2015)
    What is the survey method? Patrick discusses the survey method, including its history and development. He gives tips on utilising existing data and where to source interesting data for this purpose
  • Mixed Methods Research  (2015)
    What are Mixed Methods? How should we define mixed methods? Pat speaks about defining mixed methods and her own interest in mixed methods approaches
  • What do you mean by the term “Ethnography”? (2009)
    Sarah Delamont gives her definition of the term ‘Ethnography’ and puts forward her arguments for the benefits of an Ethnographic Study over other Qualitative Research methods.
  • Learning Research Methods  (2016)
    Victoria Edwards is a student at Cardiff University. Taking opportunities to engage in real research helped her to understand research methods and put dry, abstract methodological terms into a real world context
  • Introduction to Social Media for Researchers (2016)
    Increasingly academic researchers are encouraged to be active in social media. Amy and Cheryl discuss the possibilities and benefits of this participation in the online world. How can social media be used for data gathering, data promotion and impact?