Kurilpa Derby

Last weekend was the 10th anniversary of the Kurilpa Derby in Brisbane.

It is a fantastic annual community celebration of life on wheels.

The Kurilpa Derby is a major social and community event where the main street of the West End (Brisbane) is  blocked off for the afternoon and taken over by all things colourful, fun, family and related to bikes…and other environmentally-friendly people-powered mobility, such as skateboards, scooters, roller-skates, trolleys, prams and everything in between!

The Derby is hosted by West End Community Association and is open to the general public and showcases the best that the West End has to offer in terms of business, community and lifestyle.

I have not previously been to the Derby before and this year it came highly recommended. Boy and I glad I went.

I had a brilliant time.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

 

What happened at Kurilpa Derby?

The event is a much loved, anticipated and popular event.

It was a stunning, sunny day – and there was a great turn out.

Leki was at her floral best and I went as a jokey to pay homage to the ‘derby’ theme and also for the upcoming Melbourne Cup.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com

The day started with the Kurilpa Derby Street Parade.

Leki and I joined in the street parade along with all the other participants floats, families and locals.

The Parade was colourful and noisy and a lot of fun. We were surrounded by colour and energy and lots of locals, families and community groups participated.

The effort and thought that people had put into decorating whatever parade mode they had and their costuming was impressive.

There was so much to see in the parade, like the Brazilian dancing girls, a ‘public pool’ (float), beautifully decorated rickshaws, couches on wheels, unicycles, a tall bike, lots of environmentally-themed mobile displays and a number of killer drumming troupes who keep the parade bopping along.

An amazing oversized water rat ended up winning the float first prized prize.

My personal parade favourite was the beekeeping team-theme float. This was an understand, but well executed exhibit that had  a spunky lady dressed as a bee inside a box decorated as the ‘hive’ as their float. This hive float was pulled by two fully equipped bee keepers (in full bee keeping suits including smoke cans). This crew handed out ices-poles anyone who wanted them the whole time – brilliant!

After the Parade,  the road remained closed and there were a  range of activities,  demos, novelty races and entertainment, such as a Pet Parade, a cocktail race, skateboard demonstration and heaps of other novelty races.

It was brilliant to see so many visitors and families out and about. Kids were roaring up and down the street in between races enjoying the freedom, safety and fun of having an allocated street to roam free and go wild.

It was such a delight to see the community – all locals and visitors alike – come together in such a celebratory and inclusive way.

As the sun went down the festivities continued. The bars, shops, cafes and restaurants did a roaring business and were keep buys all day and night.

Many people stayed on after to attend the Kurilpa Beggars’ Banquet, which is a brilliant community potluck dinner extravaganza.

If you have never been to the Kurilpa Derby before, be sure to put it on the calendar for next year. It is well worth it!

Below are a few pics from the day. See more photos at local Greta Pavlova’s Album.

Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com Kurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.comKurilpa Derby - Bicycles Create Change.com


Images my own, from Kurilpa Derby FB, @imogenbunting & @brisvagueness. Montage from The West End Magazine.

Bike Palooza

If I didn’t have to heave my head in the books for my PhD Confirmation paper – I’d be in Bendigo, VIC celebrating Bike Palooza Bendigo! You lucky buggers! NG.


Bike Palooza Bendigo - Bicycles Create Change

In July earlier this year, I met Jac from Bike Bendigo at the National Cycling and Walking Conference (Adelaide).

On meeting, we immediately hit it off.  We had a shared passion for promoting more bikes in our communities. We were both keen to attend each others’ sessions, but we had to present at the same time! Eck!

We swapped contacts and have stayed in touch since. I was delighted to see that Jac, Bike Bendigo, their local partners and what looks like their whole community  – have been super busy because  October is Bike Bendigo’s Bike Palozza month-long festival!

Bike Palooza Bendigo - Bicycles Create ChangeWhat is Bike Palooza Bendigo?

Essentially, Bike Palooza Bendigo is a month long bike festival hosted by Bike Bendigo to celebrate and promote biking, cycling and riding in and around the community of Bendigo, VIC.

Bike Bendigo is a community based organisation committed to getting more people on bikes in Bendigo. They partner with local council to promote the local area as a principal bicycle destination for all types of riders – and they are doing a damn fine job of it too!

They are very activate on social media and have some great little videos uploaded onto Facebook.

Bike Palooza Bendigo has been in the media and it is great to see local businesses getting behind Bike Bendigo and the event and supporting it.

A well thought out event.

Kudos to the organisers as the event has been extremely well thought out, in relation to timing, types of events and locations.

Also, the consistency and originality of the event marketing theme (website, colours, animations etc) is original and distinctive – and there is a limited line of event pennants and T-shirsts and badges available.

This is a wonderful month-long event with over 120+ events to check out- it is very family friendly and definitely something for everyone!

There is the Ride2Work day, the inaugural Bendigo Cycle Classic, the Filmed by Bike International Bike Film Festival, Free Wheeling Fun open shed, Open Streets and heaps of community rides to name a few.

Bike Palooza Bendigo - Bicycles Create Change

Filmed by Bike– Friday 20th Oct @ Bike Palooza 2017

My hot tip event not to be missed is the Filmed by Bike screening.

This free event will be a screening of two of shows from the world renowned international bike film festival from Portland, Oregon: Bike Love and Adventure Shorts. To see these films – head down to: Hargreaves Mall this Friday (20th Oct). 6.30pm for 7pm start of films. Click here for more details. There will be a pop-up bar, plenty of comfy seating provided on the night, so BYO picnic, dinner and ride on it to see the screening.

Mind you – I’m keen to go on any of the community rides as well!!

Bike Palooza Bendigo - Bicycles Create Change

I have been immensely impressed with the amount of work that Jac and the Bike Bendigo crew have put into the Bike Palozoo extravaganza. Amazing!

Congrats on such a brilliant showcase of your region, your town and for creating such a positive dialogue about, and promotion for, bike-friendly communities…and for extending the invitation for more cyclists to come a enjoy your very welcoming and bike-friendly town!

I can’t wait to head down and come for a ride!

Have fun to all those heading to Bendigo to support this awesome event, I hope you have a bikey-blast!

For those who have not yet gone – get on ya bike and get down there!

All images: Bike Palooza Bendigo.

NGOs – Don’t take the bicycle’s name in vain!

My PhD is on community bike projects, so I read a lot of NGO policy. I came across an interesting NGO evaluation of a pilot study undertaken in Uttar Pradesh, India.

As a development professional, educator and community bike advocate, this report entitled: The distribution of Aquatabs through a bicycle entrepreneur model in rural India caught my eye.

Expectations .. bicycle entrepreneur distribution model’

Having previously worked on health and community education programs in developing countries I’m always keen to see how development interventions integrate and use bicycles to further connect promote and support positive community outcomes.

When I saw the title of this report I got excited.

I’m always keen to see what is happening in India as it is a hub of social development innovation and experimentation.

I was also keen to read about the specific focus on the ‘distribution’ aspect of a ‘bicycle’ project – I was expecting to read a lot on the use of bicycles in the communities.

I had visions of local community health and WASH workers riding bicycles around rural communities distributing free water purification tablets increasing community awareness for hygiene and clean water practices.

The report is based on the 2011 pilot of PATH’s Safe Water Project. This project was focused on implementing innovative methods to enable commercial enterprises to produce, distribute, sell, and maintain effective household water treatment and storage (HWTS) products for low-income populations in developing countries. This project brief used ‘the bicycle entrepreneur distribution model’ – and it was one of the first of a number of pilot projects that PATH undertook in India and other countries to overcome distribution and marketing barriers that make it difficult for HWTS manufacturers to reach lower-income households and rural markets.

 

NGOs - don't take the bicycle name in vain - Bicycles Create Change.com
Source: PATH (2011).

So I had a look at the report.

After scanning through the first 20 pages, the frown that had formed on my brow got deeper and more pronounced.

I found the contents of the report challenging to read.

There was scarce little detail as to the use of bicycles. Ultimately, the only reference to the use of bicycles in the whole report was that the 8 salesmen used bicycles to travel around to sell the product.

That was it. That was the extent of how bicycles were used in this project.

Talk about a let down!

It had no detail about if bicycles were provided free of change, at a discount rate, were part of a team fleet,  or if the ‘salesmen’ got to keep the bike afterwards. Nothing!

Sadly, the report was squarely focused on ascertaining commercial marketing and private sector avenues for product sales (of Aquatabs) – and not on assessing the ‘distribution’ or ‘bicycle model’ aspect of the project.

As I read the report, it seems decidedly incongruent with the ‘safe water for rural lower-income communities’ and NGO approach I was expecting to read.  The report reads more like a business/economic assessment of a failed marketing case study rather than the bicycles-helps-developing-community first impression I had. Bummer!

I skimmed over the content as I looked for the content I was interested in – which was how bicycles were used.

I found this on page 7…

In this model, BEs sold Aquatabs to rural consumers at weekly markets and through house-to-house visits.

Then this…

The model was implemented in 200 villages with approximately 67,000 households ver a 12-month period (May 2009 April 2010). Eight BEs serviced this area on bicycles, following pre-determined routes and schedules. The BEs were recruited, trained, and supervised by MART and were paid a monthly stipend of Rs 1,500 in addition to their earnings from Aquatabs sales margins.

Then this on page 18..

NGOs - dont take the bicycle name in vain - Bicycles Create Change.com

‘Peddlers’ or ‘health champions’?

I did smile at the irony of a comment regarding training, support and monitoring, whereby:

“Additionally, the BEs felt that their current job lacked pride because they were perceived as “peddlers” (telewalah) rather than health champions, and this limited their ability to interact with local leaders as well as with the community” (p 40).

(Get it…’peddlers’ or ‘bicycle salesmen’..oh dad!  Definitely cultural/vocab humour!)

Where was the ‘bicycle entrepreneur model’ in all this??

In my view, if the bicycle model term was important enough to put into the report heading, it is important enough to explain in more detail that what was provided.

Why is the mode of transportation used to get around important to mention in this project? You don’t see equivalent ‘walking entrepreneur model’ or ‘minibus entrepreneur model’ or ‘(insert mode of transport here) entrepreneur model’ – so what make the bicycle so special to mention here? And if it is special to mention – it’s reasoning needs to be better explained.

It is logical that bicycles would be used in developing contexts for project staff to travel in and around villages. Is this idea still such a revelation that it is still a new idea for NGO practice? I should think not! I was surprised that this was such a basic project feature was so prominently highlighted, yet not explained in this report.

I thought…Maybe it was bad report writing. Maybe the title was deliberately chosen to attract a certain audience. I couldn’t help but be a little miffed by ‘bicycle’ being in the report title where there was no further explanation of its use, especially considering the connotation of bicycles being synonymous with local, grassroots community development.

I felt this was taking the bicycle’s name in vain.

It kind of felt like false advertising. It was akin to supermarkets putting fresh produce into ‘green packaging’, relabelling it as ‘fresh farm produce’ and then charging double to capitalise on the current wholefood/vegan/natural eating health trend.

I ended up having to look elsewhere to find a Project Brief Document that provided some point of reference at least for the role that bicycles had in this project – which was minimal anyway. Surely this should have been in the assessment report? Even after finding this separate document, there was still a lack of detail about the provision, ownership and handover of the bicycle.

Below is as much info about how bicycles were used in this project as the NGO provided:

NGOs - dont take the bicycle name in vain - Bicycles Create Change.com

Note to self: Be wary of how ‘bicycles’ are represented in NGO and development documents.

What a disappointing report!

It was a salient reminder for me about the variation in approaches, purposes and communication styles of NGO programs. Equally, although bicycles are used in some NGOs projects, it is not always in the most productive and positive manner – sometimes bikes are just used to ride and get around!

Equally, although bicycles are used in some NGOs projects, it is not always in the most productive and positive manner.

It was a good lesson – a reminder to be vigilant and judicious when seeing that a ‘bicycle’ is included in a project somewhere. Be sure to look more closely and see to what degree the bicycle is actually used before automatically assuming the project is ‘good’ just on the basis that a bicycle is mentioned.

Despite my personal reservations, I am always supportive of more bicycles being used in communities.

Notwithstanding my critique of this particular report, it is still good to see bicycles being better recognised and incorporated into INGO community project discussions.

Viva la use of bicycles to promote greater health and community development!

NAIDOC Week 2017

What is NAIDOC Week 2017?

This week is NAIDOC Week 2107 in Australia.

NAIDOC is the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Each year for the first week of July, Australia celebrates its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and contributions to country and society.

This years theme is ‘Our Languages Matter’.

NAIDOC Week 2017

 

NAIDOC Week is a great opportunity to meet with elders and community, learn about culture and heritage and help establish a better understanding of community for all.

 

Last year I posted about some Aboriginal Bike Safety Programs for NAIDOC Week 2016.

For this year’s National Reconciliation Week, I looked at WA’s The Indigenous Talent Identification and Development Squad (ITID) to develop a team of Indigenous Olympic Track Cyclists.

This year I went to the Redland Performing Arts Centre to support their Our Languages Matter: A NAIDOC Showcase.

Redlands NAIDOC Week Celebrations

It was a terrific day.

There was a  traditional smoking ceremony, cultural and dance demonstrations, weaving workshops and a sand art/play space.

IndigiScapes Tea Garden Café kept us happily fed with copious amounts of bush tucker tasting including yummy croc curry, bush kangaroo sausages with sweet BBQ sauce and homemade kangaroo pies.

I was blown away to see Che ‘Cockatoo’ Collins there, one of my childhood AFL heroes in the flesh – awesome!!!

There was a super informative demonstration by Matt Burns (from the Qunadamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, Stradbroke Island) about Aboriginal culture, tools and lifestyle – by far the best presentation I have seen – full of super interesting facts (like the Guinness World Record for javelin throwing is 104.80 m, as opposed to throwing a spear with a woomera 147meters, which William, an Indigenous man in Kuranda QLD did to become the Guinness World record holder).

Best of all was the concert by Bunna Lawrie and Coloured Stone in the RPAC Concert Hall.

NAIDOC Week 2017
Redlands Performing Arts Centre gearing up for a big NAIDOC event
NAIDOC Week 2017
Awesome Presentation by Matt Burns
NAIDOC Week 2017
Bush tucker: Crocodile Curry & Kangaroo Sausage with Sweet BBQ Sauce
NAIDOC Week 2017
Bunna Lawrie & Coloured Stone Performing

Custom Made Bikes by Aboriginal Artists

For the cycling NAIDOC Week 2017 fanatics, I’d like to share this custom made bike I saw in Cairns Airport when I was last there.

In the places I’ve seen painted bikes, it has been bikes painted by local or well-known Aboriginal artists that are then auctioned off for charity.

This bike was custom made (bamboo) and beautifully painted. It was part of the Ironman display, which was on at the time.( It’s a bugger the picture resolution is not good enough to read who the artist is to follow up – what a pity! I couldn’t find anything about it online about the bike or artist either! Grrr!).

Regardless, it was a stunning bike and well worth being showcased.

The photo does not do it justice – the detail in the painting was brilliant and the colours super vibrant.

What a beautiful bike – imagine hitting the road for your Saturday pack ride with this beauty!

Stunning!

What a great way to be proud of and share the elegance and heritage of Aboriginal art.

More like it, please!

Happy riding this NAIDOC Week!!


Postscript: I like to think this blog reflects a positive approach to people, life and choices.

I had a great time during NAIDOC week, but I was sorely disappointed but how few non-indigenous Australians attend NAIDOC events and support Indigenous Australia.

I have since been thinking about this a lot since NAIDOC.

I think it is time that as a nation we stand up and be proud of our indigenous history and peoples.

I find it unsettling that for the majority of Australians, this critical issue is of little or no importance.

So here is my challenge…

Still a long way to go for recognition and understanding

I am disturbed about the vast amount of misinformation that circulates about indigenous Australians.

Which is why events like NAIDOC are important.

In 2011, Indigenous Australians made up only 3% of all Australia’s population, and the vast majority of non-indigenous Australians have never spent any meaningful time meeting or speaking with Aboriginal Australians.

I think this is part of the problem.

Where was the non-indigenous community supporting NAIDOC this week?

I saw only a handful of non-indigenous people at the Redlands NAIDOC event.

Get better information about Australian history

For non-indigenous people who are interested in finding out more about Australia’s history (as opposed to the superficial, limited, romanticised, watered-down precis you might have got in school), there is a TV show I’d recommend as a starting point:

SBS’s First Australians seven-part series presents Australian history in a way that to date has remained predominately untold.

It is poignant, well-researched and important to know part of Australia’s history that needs to be known more widely.

See you next NAIDOC Week.

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

A few days ago, Melbourne’s beloved community bicycle engagement project The Squeaky Wheel announced it is closing after 6 glorious years in operation.

The Squeaky Wheel was a much loved proponent in progressing Melbourne’s bicycle community.

For those who do not know about this organization, it is well worth the effort to check out the creative and popular events, rides, initiatives and programs that were organized by The Squeaky Wheel –  a very impressive and influential range!

Leaving behind a wonderful legacy and example for others

So this post is a homage to the amazing work that Pip Caroll and the whole Squeaky Wheel team (and their partners) have achieved over the years.

This venture was truely a community-driven organisation that had community and positive cycling for all as its core.

Although it is sad to see The Squeaky Wheel  close and I will miss supporting their events (as will thousands of others), The Squeaky Wheel leaves behind a wonderful legacy and example for others to follow.

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

A massive range of community participation and bike-inspired projects!

Over the last 6 years, The Squeaky Wheel has managed and produced an impressive array of bicycle participation, projects and advocacy campaigns. Their volume, scope and range speaks to the passion and commitment of those who made it all happen – events like …

Even though the main umbrella is retiring, a number of their popular projects will still be operational – hooray! I am delighted to see that a number of their projects will still continue such as Roll Up (who have also taken over Bike ‘n Blend) and the sensational Pushy Women annual event is also set to continue. Pushy Women is a great event where a panel of well-known women tell their stories about bikes, bike riding and cycling. This show is always peppered with moments of empowerment, hilarity, poignancy, nostalgia and thought-provoking experiences – always a top event. I’m happy to hear that this event will continue.

But others will not continue. So in memorandum, here is reminder of the plethora of The Squeaky Wheel events, rides and tours that have been put on over the years – incredibly prolific community engagement!!  I’ve listed the events below (you can find out more about each event at their website), to get a visual gauge  of how productive this collective was – and to showcase the range, dedication and scope that The Squeaky Wheel is revered and loved for. Their events list is humbling.. check these beauties out….

Farewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky WheelFarewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Farewell to The Squeaky Wheel

Adios The Squeaky Wheel!!

As a final adios to The Squeaky Wheel – below is a 4′ 39″ video of their 2012 (3 week) Melbourne BikeFest- which was just one of many of their amazing events over the years – but one of my personal favourites!

For all those involved with The Squeaky Wheel will miss you, thank you for all your amazing work over the years. We wish you luck for your next riding adventures!

See more videos of The Squeaky Wheel events here.

 

World Refugee Day 2017

Today is World Refugee Day.

Currently, there are 65 million people forcible displaced globally and the number is growing every day.

The UN states that the World Refugee Day commemorates “the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. This year, World Refugee Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee.”

To highlight this issue, international organisations such as UNESCO and many others have been actively promoting the stories, issues, data and conversations then need to be talked about as the countries individually and collectively struggle to deal with critical refugee issues.

The refugee crisis is an issue that every country has to deal with.

So below I have 3 ideas for Aussie cyclists to mull over* in honour of today’s theme.

3 Considerations for World Refugee Day 2017 

1. Is Australia really helping the Refugee Crisis enough? 

YES! It is!

SBS reported Australia’s current refugee involvement in a positive light by publishing the following encouraging stats:

$33.9 million has been raised in the last year (2016-2017) by Australia for UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) official partner in Australia) to support the UN’s worldwide emergency and humanitarian programs.

Of the record $33.9 million that Australia for UNHCR has raised:

  • 75% are for UNHCR’s general emergency operations
  • 19% for emergencies in Syria, South Sudan, Iraq & Ecuador
  • 6% for specific projects providing targeted support for women, girls and children
  • $550,000 was raised by the community in NSW, QLD, WA and SA, to support Australia for UNHCR’s appeal for Syrian refugees.
  • There was also a significant contribution from Australia’s Vietnamese community, which has previously benefited from UNHCR support.

NO! Its not!

SBS’s report is a stark contrast to Tim Costello’s moving article entitled Even Poor Countries Are More Generous to Refugees than Rich Australia: Australia’s efforts would suggest we’re losing a sense of our shared humanity published in the Huffington Post.

Tim draws parallels between Australia’s efforts compared to Uganda (one of the top three refugee hosting countries in the world) and poignantly reflects that:

‘I was profoundly moved to witness how this relatively poor nation has welcomed hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese fleeing famine and war. How can it be that such a poor country does so much to shoulder the humanitarian load when we, rich and prosperous with a per capita income almost 25 times higher, do not?”

It is a sobering and honest point he makes that ‘we’re losing a sense of our shared humanity, which for a country built on migration is, at best, ironic’.

It is a very interesting article to read.

World Refugee Day 2017
Source: Huffington Post/Tim Costello Twitter

2. Ride for Refugees Event

Aside from wider political and economic furor – cycling and biking events are a great way to promote social issues and get people involved – so today is no exception!

There were many biking events and rides this year, but my cycling event for World Refugee Day 2017 goes to Nepal’s ‘Ride for Refugees’. This is the second year this event has run and 2017 saw a turnout of over 500 people. Spotlight reports that people riding included ‘government officials, diplomats, refugees of diverse nationalities and local residents of the Kathmandu Valley showed their solidarity with refugees — both in Nepal and globally — by participating in the second annual “Ride for Refugees” cycle rally south of Patan’.

Aside from riding  in the critical mass event with all the locals, celebrities, ex-pats, supports and the like, Kathmandu is hosting an array of ‘Refugee’ events throughout the city including a photo exhibition, site visits and discussion meetings.

 

World Refugee Day 2017
Source: Spotlightnepal.com. (From L to R) Swiss Ambassador to Nepal Jörg Frieden, UNHCR Representative in Nepal Kevin J Allen with Miss Nepal Asia Pacific, Sahara Basnet and Miss Nepal Earth, Rojina Shrestha at Patan Dubar Square for ‘Ride for Refugees’
World Refugee Day 2017
Source: UNHCR

3. The Nashville Food Project Celebration

To keep the fun and community in perspective I’d like to acknowledge a smaller grassroots honorable mention from last year (2015) – undertaken by The Nashville Food Project. You cannot go wrong with friends, family, food and farming!

As stated on their website, this lovely inclusive event was a collaboration and art project for World Refugee Day included such a meal. The Nashville Food Project joined friends from the First Center for the Visual Arts, the Center for Refugees and Immigrants of Tennessee, Oasis Center and members of their International Teen Outreach Program, Bhutanese gardeners and neighborhood gardeners at the Wedgewood Urban Garden.   

“I just loved sharing a meal with all these people who came together around growing food, volunteerism, making art and celebrating World Refugee Day,” said TNFP Garden Manager Christina Bentrup. “There were people and foods from both around the world and from different neighborhoods around Nashville, It was a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-generational group of folks celebrating community and diversity. It doesn’t get much better than that.” 

The group also turned recycled bicycle parts into art for the garden (see below) and then had a big community pot luck lunch together!!

At the end of the event description on their website is a great squash recipe, which to me highlights the significant interconnection between community, food and garden.

What a wonderful way to celebrate the day!

World Refugee Day 2017

World Refugee Day 2017
Source for these 3 images: Nashville Food Project

 

How did you celebrate World Refugee Day 2017?

How about next year planning some grand celebratory biking plans that will bring together locals, refugees and community?

Infuse it with welcomeness, fun, inclusivity and of course… biking!!

Best of luck for next year’s bike-themed World Refugee Day event!


*Note the two  news articles used for point ‘1. Is Australia really helping the Refugee Crisis enough?’ should be taken as a stimulus to explore your own reflections (and reasons for your answer) to this question. The two articles included have been artbitrarily selected as two opposing points of view on this topic and are not to be taken as definitive or sole proof of (or any other variation of) this position. So please use your amazing brain. Research and make you own mind up based on the best quality and relevant information.

Indigenous Mountain Bike Project

While travelling the Northern New South Wales coast this week, I had a chance to catch up with some indigenous mates. We got chatting about bike riding. Lots of the local kids on the missions use bikes to get around, meet up with friends, go fishing or hang out at the local skate parks. BMX is pretty popular and I also saw some mountain bikes getting around. After our chat, it got me thinking. I decided to find out if there were any programs specifically supporting local NSW indigenous cyclists. The most prominent program that popped up was the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project (IMTBP) and it also piqued my interest for other reasons, like program viability.

National Indigenous Centre for Excellence (NCIE)

This is a NSW specific biking program. This was one of the many LIFE (Lifestyle Innovations For Everyone) programs run by the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence (NCIE). The actual centre is based in Redfern, Sydney, but the actual MTB program had services and trips spread out all over the state. The central NCIE focus is to provide services, training and opportunity to increase health, life skills and talent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. NCIE has an array of educational, arts and culture, a conference centre, sporting, recreation, social, health and wellness services that develop skills, enterprises, occupational and technical opportunities and the like – all aimed at improving the learning, development and positive lifestyles for its members.

The Indigenous Mountain Bike Project was one of the services the NCIE offered and it was created to get more indigenous people riding bikes. It was launched January 2012 and the main driving force, legs and faces of this project was Sean Appoo and Ben Bowen.

Indigenous Mountain Bike Project (IMTBP) – Background

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet states the program as being:

“The Indigenous Mountain Bike Project is run by the Lifestyle Innovations For Everyone (LIFE) team at the National Centre for Indigenous Excellence in New South Wales. The aim of the project is to promote bike riding as a form of physical activity to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of all ages and health levels. The IMTBP has a fleet of 19 bikes for use by staff and program participants.  The program offers:

  • regular bike trips for groups of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people around Sydney
  • entry into local and regional mountain bike competitions
  • workshops on bike maintenance and safe cycling skills.”

Some key details about the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project.

  • This project ran From Jan 2012 until June 2015, whereupon it looks like the project was stopped. During those three years, the project held many social and skills rides, supported and attended events, had a good social media presence on Facebook and built up a community of active and enthusiastic cyclists.
  • Of the 19 bikes used, 3 are hybrid bikes and the other 16 are mountain bikes.
  • The fleet was not just used for training and maintained programs for new beginner riders, but were also used in local and regional MTB competitions, races and events.
  • The program was operational and participated in the Inaugural Koori MTB Cup in 2014.
  • The project had a team of representative riders who raced events such as the JETBLACK 24Hr, Koori MTB Cup and the Huski 100.
  • When the bikes are not being used for programs, events, trips or for local and regional MTB competitions, the NCIE staff use them to ride to and from meetings during work hours.
  • Other local inner city rides and meet ups were an adjunct feature of this program getting more people on bikes – local businesses, commuters and weekend rider forums popped up with riders sharing trip reports, ride details, invites for meet ups and technical knowledge.
  • The program received quite a bit of publicity and was feature in an SBS featurette in June 2015 (see below).

The IMTB Project Facebook site

Although no longer actively used since May 2015, the IMTBP Facebook site is still a testament to the range of biking services, popularity and community that this project built. There are numerous videos event posters and invites, people posting their trails via mapmyrides and sharing details for upcoming rides and active discussion forum for all levels of fitness, ages and cycling types.

There are a series of videos detailing the IMTBP team and adventures on MTB trials and during the JETBLACK 24 hr race at the LIFE TV YouTube channel, which show skills sessions, training, the IMTBP team riding in various events and it also has a few IMTBP rider profiles which are good to see. It also demonstrates the time and effort that many different people put into this project.

So what happened?

On the face value, it seems like the Indigenous Mountain Bike Project was a ‘success’. But what does that mean and how do you measure it? What were the outcomes of this project? It seems to have got a good following, achieved its goals of getting more indigenous people riding and created a thriving community that had a good presence – so what happened to this program? Did funding run out? Did attendance wane? Was there no one to hand over to?

The only indication given was this post on Facebook group on June 2015.

IMTB PRoject
Source: IMTBP Facebook page

But this post gives few details about the status of the IMTBP (but certainly showcases the massive effort and impact Sean and Ben had during their time there).  Even though Sean and Ben are ‘wrapping up’,  it is unclear if that means the IMTB project finished as well. If it did, then why?

I called the National Indigenous Centre for Excellence LIFE Team’s 1300 866 176 phone number as provided online. I wanted to find out what happened to this project. But the number was disconnected. I tried the NCIE landline (02) 9046 7802 and had to leave a voice mail message. So I still don’t know what happened. Seems strange…

Why do some of the best projects fail to continue?

It can be incredibly frustrating and unfortunate that community programs such as this one can be planned, funded and implemented, yet are not sustainable to endure and provide such a valuable service. These kinds of scenarios occur all the time in the community/international development sphere. Whether it is a community group or multilateral international aid organisation, sustainability and how/why projects finish is a massive industry issue.

In my field of International development – one organisation decided to meet this issue head on. I will never forget seeing the 2008 Engineers without Borders Failure Report and watching David Damberger talk about what happens when an NGO admits failure – and hearing of project insights that were learnt, yet rarely acknowledged or shared.

I am by no means suggesting that the IMTBP was a mistake or ‘failure’, merely making the observation sad that such a positive biking program that obviously had community popularity and traction was not able to continue operating – which begs the questions – why not?

I thought back to my chat about bikes with my indigenous mates earlier this week. I wondered if the program was still operating would there be even more Koori riders? With such a strong community following and uptake, why was this initiative not picked up by local/national councils? Are we short changing the next Indigenous Anna Meares or Cadel Evans? What a great biking and community initiative – and what a pity it has not prevailed!

Ethical Bicycle Christmas Gifts

Christmas is nearly upon us.

In our house we have a strict no present policy. This is primarily for environmental and ethical considerations, but also because we are consciously and actively reducing our impact on the environment and our reliance of material possessions to more towards a more sustainable, thoughtful and minimal existence.

Within the confines of our house, this is easy to enforce and has been the rule for many years. My immediate family and friends know, appreciate and support our no gift position and reasoning. However, in cases when outside our immediate circle (like work) or when have to interact with other families (or other people’s kids), it can still be a little tricky. As much as I detest the mainstream practice of over packaged, wasteful, plastic commodification of expected entitlement that goes along with normative practices of Christmas gift giving, this idea can be quite hard for a four-year old to grasp.

I am fortunate to have years of practice in explaining my gifting approach in a way that can be heard – but not always understood or accepted. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that some people just won’t understand – or will think I’m crazy (..or lazy, forgot, a miser or whatever else). So be it.

I’m at the stage where I don’t care what other people think. But for others who are moving in a similar direction, it can still be difficult if your placed in situations where it might still be necessary/expected to give a present  (work Chris Cringles). So  for those who are in this kind of situation – and for any other bike crazy people who also want to support a more ethical and sustainable Christmas – here are my suggestions for alternative bikivism gift giving techniques.

 

10 Ethical, community-supportive, green, fair-trade, sustainable, bike-inspired gifting alternatives (phew!)

  1. Adopt a ‘make, bake, sew or grow’ gift that is bicycle relate – for example: make a bicycle helmet bag, bake a bicycle theme cake (as featured two posts ago) sew a bike courier patch onto a bag, or plant some flowers to grow into an old upturned bike helmet
  2. World Bicycle Relief – Support bikes, education and developing nations by buying from WBR shop where there are prints, cards, t-shirts and bikes-for-education sponsorship options
  3. Literacy on two wheels – (Room to Read/Global Girlfriend): $50 can provide a bicycle for a girl. School can often be a 2 to 3 hour walk from home along remote roads, making school an impossibility for millions. A bicycle can cut that time down dramatically
  4. Sponsor a Bike – For our UK friends – this organisation has programs starting from £10 a month to support a refugee to start cycling safely. Thi minimal cost includes: a bike, brand new lights, a lock and a helmet, unlimited repairs (if necessary), a road safety session – and you as the donor will receive one free bike service a year. There are also other upgrade options.
  5. Bike Gifts is a South African organisation that aims to add to the South African economy, to support local entrepreneurs and produce new and exciting products. they source quality, local bespoke products
  6. Create your own bicycle gift voucher or gift someone a card that you made with bicycle on the cover, or ethically source it from somewhere else like recycled artists on Etsy, and write: Happy Christmas! This card can be redeemed for an afternoon picnic ride with me. Call me to arrange the date. I can’t wait to share some quality time with you and build more happy memories together!! Happy Christmas!
  7. Check out Shared Earth for a range of fair trade, recycled gifts and home wares made from recycled bike chains. This organisation aims “to improve the livelihoods of disadvantaged people in developing countries, benefiting local community projects and keeping alive traditional skills that would otherwise be lost”.
  8. The Intrepid Foundation $25 Bicycle Helmet – The Green Gecko Project cares for former street children and their families by providing them with education, security, love and opportunity. This gift will provide four young people with a bicycle helmet for safe riding on the streets of Siem Reap, Cambodia. The best thing about this gift is that for every dollar you spend on this project – The Intrepid Foundation will match with all proceeds going to Green Gecko. Green Gecko also has some other fantastic projects.
  9. Gift a bicycle for 5 children to ride to school in Vietnam through Caritas’ Gift of Education Card program to help support “overcoming poverty, promoting justice, upholding dignity”.
  10. Support women artisans from the slums of Chennai, working with Baladarshan SPEED Foundation that promote local women’s employment opportunities by buying fair-trade recycled Indian Billboard Panniers  (see below)…. you can also select which deities you want to ride with!

Best of luck and I applaud your sustainable and environmentally/socially aware choices in gift giving this Christmas.

I wish you a minimalist and very happy time!

Baladarshan
Source: The New Internationalist – Baladarshan

2016 Super Sunday Recreational (Bike) count

In a couple of days, on Sunday 13th November, Australia’s Bicycle Network is undertaking its  annual bike path user audits. These counts are done each year to collect bicycle use data that help local councils accurately monitor and plan for current and future bicycle path use and infrastructure. This week will be the Super Sunday Recreational Bike Count.

Each year nationally, there is a Super Tuesday Commuter Bike Count (usually held in March) and a Super Sunday Recreational Count. These counts contribute to informing and guiding bike riding investment and initiatives across Australia and local councils self-nominate to participate. It is always interesting to which are the progressive councils that opt in and see the value and necessity of investigating urban bike path use (ideas to consider when you are looking at buying your next property?). It is great to see a rise in the number of local councils participating in this initiative, but yet again, not bloody enough interest or effort from QLD authorities to support ANY type of bike use!

As a research and activist working at the intersection of bicycles and community development – these kinds of initiatives are right up my alley. Although they may seem lame to some, the political and policy making power that this kind of data can leverage would be surprising to the average joe.

If you have ever found yourself muttering about the condition or lack of bike paths, or about the absence of council support and understanding for your particular bike riding needs – this is a small, but proactive and immediate action you can take to effect sustainable and positive change in your local area.

 

Specifics about the 2016 Super Sunday Recreational Bike Count.

This particular audit is being held in various locations in Australia this Sunday 13th Nov from 9 am – 1 pm (7-11am in NT & QLD) to ascertain:

  1. numbers of uses on trails and paths
  2. Which trails and paths are being used
  3. When trails are being used and by/with whom

To collect this qualitative data, a visual count of recreational bike riders and other users of the bike paths is required. To this end, the Bicycle Network has sent out an invitation for volunteers to help count and monitor selected sites to count rider (and other user) movements through particular sites. All equipment is provided.

 

What do I get out of it?

Although you do not get paid as an official ‘volunteer’, each data site is allocated $120 to go towards a charity or NGO that you can nominate. as well as contributing to supporting and informing productive bicycle use in your local area.  It is not a particularly taxing activity, on the contrary, it is a great day out. As a data collector, you get to see and meet lots of like-minded people in your area, brag to your mates that you were out making a difference to make their daily rides better – and there is also the bonus that you are actively contributing to generating data and outcomes that are integral to the maintenance and sustainability of future bicycle use for everyone Australia wide.

 

Get involved!

I STRONGLY urge you to get involved.

If you have not already registered to count, please consider doing so – take a mate or the family and make a morning of it.

Or conversely, make and extra point this Sunday to get out on your bike and ride paths in the locales listed below to get counted as many times as possible to add your “voice’ to increase investment in urban bicycle facilities.

The paths most focused on for these counts are key recreational paths, particularly along waterways, beaches and parks – so get out there on your two wheels!

 

Register here

For more info, check out the Super Counts – see the Bicycle Network.

Source: Bicycle Network
Source: Bicycle Network

Areas involved for the 2016 Sunday Super count

NSW

  • Canterbury- Bankstown
  • Inner West
  • Lake Macquarie
  • Northern Beaches
  • Parramatta
  • Randwick
  • Southerland Shire

NT

  • Darwin

QLD

  • Whitsunday

SA

  • Mitcham
  • Norwood Payneham St Peters

VIC

  • Ballarat
  • Boroondara
  • Frankston
  • Greater Bendigo
  • Greater Dandenong
  • Greater Geelong
  • Hobson’s Bay
  • Maribyrnong
  • Melbourne
  • Monash
  • Moonee Valley
  • Nillumbik
  • Stonnington
  • Whitehorse
  • Wyndham
  • Yarra
  • Yarra Ranges

WA

  • Perth
  • Cockburn
  • Cottlesloe
  • Fremantle
  • Mandurah

 

Source: Bicycle Network
Source: Bicycle Network

Melbourne Artbike Grand Prix

 Prescript: I was so excited about the cruelty-free Melbourne Artbike Grand Prix when I posted this, but have just found out (6.40pm on 1st Nov) that this event got postponed because of rain!!  What a bummer! It has been (tentatively TBC ) moved to 10th Dec –  but the awesomeness still rates, so here it is!! NG.

Today is the Melbourne Cup.

I was impressed to see that the Coburg Velodrome is holding a animal-free alternative to Melbourne Cup, by offering the inaugural Melbourne Artbike Grand Prix. If only I was still living in Melbourne!!!

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Community event

This event is most certainly a community activity. First conceived by Bradley Ogden (Tower of Babel Burning Seed 2015 and Synesthesia), this is a wonderfully designed event encouraging active participation. It is a very well thought out and promoted event. From the gorgeous graphic design by Lauren Massy of @masseydesign (as seen above in social and media and online promotions) to the clear and informative website content, this is an exemplar bicycle inspired community event.

I hope they have a massive turn out, have far too much fun and the event is an outrageous success and is held for many years to come!!

For me it ticks all the boxes; supporting respectful and ethical lifestyle choices that do not harm animals, supports a charity in a productive and meaningful way, advocates for increased positive bike use, uses local cycling facilities in an innovative way that draws people to the location, has teamwork and creativity as a participatory prerequisite, is a celebration of ideas and expressions that are unusual, personal and innovative, supports a bicycle charity, creates a space for the community to come together to interact, share, have fun and be creative with unique bicycles as the central focus, and a whole host of other benefits – what more could you want?

 

Melbourne Artbike Grand Prix

All are welcome to come on the day to spectate and be part of the event. To enter, you need a team of 4 people to register ($25 per person, $100 per team), you fill out a survey and then create your art bike. As long as you follow the race rules and your bike passes the race check – you are good to compete in a relay style knock-out competition! Riders need to interchange after each lap and the first team over the line advances to the next round. There is also a solo category.  Any profits made on the day go directly to  Bicycles for Humanity.

 

Artbikes

By definition, an artbike can be cosmetically altered or purpose built – it is only limited by the owner/creators imagination. As a lover and producer of artbikes, I am particularly excited about this event. For this event, the focus is on producing creative, fun and inspirational bikes that met the criteria to enter and complete the event.

 

More info on the event:

All details are on their website where you can check the About page, Get Involved (Race, Create, Donate), Registration, Partners and the Event.  There is also a blog page.

The event blog page gives details about:

  • Some inspirational artbike pictures
  • What an art bike actually is
  • What to expect from the Grand Prix
  • Support for Bicycles for Humanity
  • Ticketing
  • Event location and timing

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Bicycles for Humanity

Aside from being a brilliant day out, promoting bicycles and providing an ethical alternative to ‘riding’ to the pervasive horse racing Spring Carnival Festival, this event is a collaboration also to support Bicycles for Humanity. Aside from the event supporting this charity, there are also options to the community to support Bicycles for Humanity either financially or by bringing bikes on the day to donate.

From their website, Bicycles For Humanity explain their volunteer-run, grassroots charity organisation as being focused on the alleviation of poverty through sustainable transport – in the form of a bike.

Source: Bicycles for Humanity
Source: Bicycles for Humanity

 

They do this essentially by collecting bicycles in develop countries and shipping them developing nations so that “each of the 40 ft shipping containers that Bicycles For Humanity sends becomes a bike workshop – providing employment, skills, training, business, opportunity and economic development for the community in which it’s placed. Each of these Bicycle Empowerment Centres (BEC) becomes a self-sustaining entity – fitting very cleanly into the model of micro-financed small business that is lately seen as one of the central ways for the developing world to move away from aid dependence”.

I wish them the best of luck, would be attending with bells on if I was in Melbourne. I cannot wait to see some pictures!

For any follow-ups email: melbourne@artbikegrandprix.

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