Paperwork

i don’t mind doing paperwork. i’m a list-maker, so that’s a form of paperwork. i take the minutes at our meetings, and i enjoy it. i taught English for 3 years, which meant a ton of student papers to grade, record, comment on, and keep track of. teaching in general requires much paper-schuffling and paper-trailing. you call a student’s house about a discipline problem: record it. you attend a curriculum meeting: sign in and log your hours. if you write a multiple choice test, you should make at least 60 copies, file the master copy, and run a few extra copies, just in case. teaching involved too much paperwork, even for me.

at my current job,there is much paperwork. a great example is our primo Bicycle Maintenance Agreement Form (a fancy way of saying “repair form”). this baby has four copies,corresponding stickers, numbered tags, a diagnostic checklist, and lots of room for making notes. it is a marvel to behold. or it is a major pain-in-the-ass, depending on your take. as long as you know the procedure and what to do with those four copies, stickers, tags, etc, you are golden. it saves us time in the long run. if you don’t know the process, at least you can ask, right? yes you can, and should! at the REI bike shop we manage the paper load pretty well. bikes are fun, but there are inherent safety issues, and there are forms to file that deal with those issues :)

so, mike asked a good question when we were working last night…should we make a list of our wheels and inventory them? ken said no. i said, not necessary as long as the wheels are easy to get to and check. but, maybe we should write down what we have. i certainly don’t know all the wheels or even how many. necessary? unnecessary? safety concern? efficiency issue? to create paperwork? or not? good questions–ones that we probably haven’t completely answered yet.

A Well-Organized Work Space

this picture is my screensaver. it is my zen rock garden. i like to space out and stare at it.

it’s also the workbench layout utilized at UBI and similar to what you see in most bike shops. you could also use a tool chest with marked drawers, a table with outlined spots for tools, etc. when you have more than one person working in a shared space and using the same tools, it’s imperative that tools stay organized, that everything has a home. we’re going to try the work table model for now. mostly for the reason that it’s mobile, and we can take/use the same configuration when we’re doing events like the free bike tune-ups around town. with any new system, we it may or may not find it to be the best system for us. we need to try it on for size and see if it fits. that’s been the approach this summer: try it, see if it works for us. some things have really clicked, like the neighborhood outreach programs (free tune-ups). some things are taking longer to figure out, like the configuration of our bike storage and work space.

i know that we’re creating a beautiful thing. i know that we’ll look back at this time and say, “wow, we did a some really amazing work!” the part i have a harder time visualizing is the process and the beauty within it. the uber workbench is a thing to behold; it gives me the chills. but,so is our less-than-perfect workshop. note to self: be present,enjoy the learning process, the growth, and the subsequent growing pains.

3 weeks later…

on july 18, 2007 i boarded a plane to the Netherlands (one of the greatest places on the planet and the world capital of biking, 12 million bikes deep). anyhow, i will post about bikes, amsterdam with pictures and all another day. for now i wanted to comment on all the progress p2p made over the three weeks i was gone. most notably the garage. p2p now has a garage with over 50 donated bikes decorating the walls, floor space and then some…wow! we’ve also got a list of folks, mostly children, waiting to get a bike. last wednesday, i had my first opportunity to hand over a p2p bike. the mother explained as i wheeled the bike out to her car that her she and her son had showed up bright and early to KHQ/Dishman Dodge in hopes of getting a bike. unfortunately they were one of the families that did not wheel into the sunset that day…after distributing 80 bikes (more or less) we still had to jot down names and come up with a plan to get bikes to these people. when Pia’s son learned he was not going to take a bike home he exclaimed his disappointment and devastation to his mom by telling her his ‘heart hurt’. i can’t tell you how amazing it felt to send Pia off with a bike on wednesday. with that, i’d like to say great job to all who have been dedicating time and energy to this effort. the impact of the bike donation program is infinite. Keep it up y’all (including all those who have donated bikes, corporate sponsors/organizers and dedicated volunteers)!

Liberty Lake Bike Fest and Fun Ride

Liberty Lake held its 1st annual In Motion! Bike Fest yesterday. P2P had information at a booth, but we were not able to attend and chat with people. i hope they had a good turn out. i love that someone is putting on an event like this to encourage biking in our area!

another idea that i love, once again, is combining the slow-food and slow-transportation movements. portland is hosting a tour d’organics this october. the idea is simple: tour local organic farms in your area by bicycle and sample tasty, unadulturated goodies–yipee!! i can’t sign up for the portland event cause it’s a sale weekend at REI. but it just gets my brain churning. could P2P organize a similar ride for spokane farmers, foodies, and freaky cyclists? does riding to quillisascut cheese in rice, washington, olsen farms in colville, and tolstoy farms in davenport get your mouth watering and your legs twitching? it sure does for me :,,) and after all, why drive to portland, when we can ride from our door to some of the best local produce around?!

Another Productive Meeting

we had another productive meeting at vien dong’s today. usually, we do a lot of premeeting discussion through email. we get our thoughts out in writing before our bi-monthly meetings, which is nice for people like me who mull stuff over before verbally commiting to something. our lunch meetings are reserved for decision making instead of hashing stuff out, and this process seems to work for our group cause we sure get things done in 1 hour.

today we decided to plan a garage night, just for organizing stuff–no bike work. we need to sort stuff, find homes for everthing, clean, and clear things out where ever possible. in the short time we’ve been working in the garage, the accumulation of bikes and parts has been overwhelming. we have wheels tucked in small places all over the garage, parts laying all over, and unmarked boxes with unknown pieces hiding inside. with at least 4 people working at any given time, it’s too much chaos. we sorted out some other things like call lists,bike logs,repair tags.

we also agreed that we’d like to do a bike-to-market day at the spokane farmers’ market this fall. this was suggested by our friend dena, who does the marketing for the farmers’ market. it’s a great chance for some fundraising, and it synchs up with our message of sustainability and community action. and like beth and i like to joke, if the slow-food movement is all the rage right now, why not share some of that momentum and promote the slow-transportation movement. it’s happening folks, right here in spokane!

kathleen is moving into a different role with pedals2people. she will still be a committed volunteer, but she’d like to have more flexibiliy in her role. being a steering committee member means regular meetings, all those emails I mentioned before, attending events, making multiple phone calls and then some. thank you kathleen for all your input and help so far.

all good happenings, a little mundane for most, but all necessary details to work through. what a great idea to team lunch with our meeting. if it wasn’t for that, i would have missed out on vien dong’s awesome avocado smoothie. go to 1730 E Sprague, bring $3, and slurp down one of these amazing little drink-treats. the texture, sweetness, and flavor are pure perfection. so yummy after a ride in the summer heat.

The Kindness of Strangers and THANKS!

i believe the world is what you make it. if i had to choose a motto, that would probably be it. or maybe “be the change you want to see.” i think between the two, that’s how i try to get by in this lifetime. so i’m not at all surprised to find so much support for pedals2people, but it does warm my heart and make me smile.

until i figure out how to post an actual thank-you page, i’ll need to add it to our blog. so…..many thanks to Tina at Bikeworks in seattle for sharing their liability waiver, to Dave at Spoke N Sport for donating 10 kids bikes, to Cup of Cool Water for helping us at the shop, and to all the individual donors who have given us bicycles.

Quick Update with a Couple Small Announcements

This has been a busy summer for P2P. In the spring, we met and decided to do as much “real” stuff this summer as we could fit in. The idea is by getting our hands dirty we find out what we’re good at; what we want to do; what the community needs; etc. The plan is to get together in Sept and build out our long term plan: do we want to be a “real” 501c3? Do we want to find a space? Do we want to partner with existing orgs? Do we want to bag it all? Do we want to continue doing what we’re doing? Something in between?

This summer we’ve done 2 free bike tune ups; we rode with about 25 cyclists in the gay pride parade; we had a booth at the local flair stree fair; we acted as the mechanic/volunteer coordinators for the KHQ pedal pals event where we fixed over 80 bikes; we did Thursday night rides every week; (aside from the KHQ bikes) we’ve collected over 40 bikes and fixed up about 20 of those and we’re on track to hit our goal of clearing our waiting list queue of about 25 bikes for folks that would not otherwise have bikes.

That’s a lot. And for me, it’s been fun, hard, hectic, satisfying, and frustrating. We’ve met a bunch of folks that are interested in what we’re doing. We get about 10 calls/emails a week with more bikes for donation. As John Medeski would say, “we are rolling.”

Two things we’ve learned in particular that we need to make immediate changes on:

1. Weekly rides aren’t working. Bad timing? Too hot? Too frequent? Weird format? Not sure. But we’re cancelling the last 3 Thursday night rides scheduled for this month. I think we learned that for the short term, we’re not into organizing rides.

2. We can’t be in the business of picking up bikes. We have a lot of junk for one. Our original goal was to take every bike that came our way. Some bikes are so trashed that very little is usable and it’s certainly not worth our time to take everything. In general, the bikes that folks bring to us are in better shape than those that we go pick up. We are going to get out of the bike picking up business. If folks have a decent bike that they want to donate, we’ll take it, but we won’t pick it up. Other cycling centers in the US require a fee for taking donated bikes. I understand that now. There is a real cost to taking bikes that cannot be sold on craigslist. A cost of time and money.

It’s a hard line to take: we only take decent donated bikes,but once you explain to folks that we can’t afford to pick up junk that may have a usable brake or something,then we have to tear it down to recycle the bent steel rims and the rusted frame — they understand. If we had a hanger-size space with multiple volunteers that could take in, sort, disassemble, and categorize the bits, then it would be great to take everything.

As it is, we’re just too small and focused in our goals at the moment to take everything.

So that’s the haps for now.

We’re excited about our Sept meeting and figuring out how we grow this thing that wants to just explode instantly into everything bike related. We’re building something here and it’s very gratifying to be a part of it.

Effective Habits

i wanted to share this list about the highly effective habits of BMX pros…thanks jim boswell for writing it. to be a “pro” anything, check out the real list for all the insights and details.

#1. Effective Pros take care of their bodies.

#2. Effective Pros take care of their bodies.

#3. Effective Pros don’t fiddle with their bikes too often.

#4. Effective Pros maintain their bikes properly.

#5. Effective Pros don’t waste their time griping about
other riders.

#6. Effective Pros study their competition.

#7 Effective Pros study themselves.

i need to be organized. it’s not a matter of “like.” i need to be organized, so lists work well for me. i’m
a visual learner too, and if i can see an uncluttered, broken-down list, it feels like my purpose becomes more clear. any list under 10 is manageable and memorable. i have this one memorized, and i’m going to start living by these simple declarations, or a modified version of it them anyway.

i work at REI, and i’m a level 1 bike tech. i’m just starting out, a baby in the world of bike mechanics. in the old-school way of learning about bikes, i would still be changing flats. from now until next year, probably. but in today’s world,i get to learn about bikes and their mechanics by actually working on them. lucky!!! in the three months since i started,i’ve learned a lot, but i still have a TON to learn. so…

get good rest, eat right. don’t smoke, don’t drink too much–that should keep my head clear, so i can think better and keep my brain cells chugging along.

don’t mess with new tools and techniques too much–learn the basics and pratice what i know till i’m solid.

maintain a clean workspace–keep things well-stocked and in order so i don’t waste time searching for tools or running out of supplies at the last minute.

don’t be a complainer–there’ll always be a conflict with supervisors, managers, employees, customers. just deal, and don’t be a whiner.

study your co-workers–learn from the masters you work with. they know. they’ve been around bikes a long time. they are patient and generous teachers with their knowledge.

examine myself–look at my habits, good and bad. listen to my heart and my intuition. ask for help when i stumble; don’t be afraid to try and to look inept while trying.

it’s a good start.

**cheers to seth for whooping all our butts at the time-trial the other night, on a schwinn predator BMX**