Since fall of 2008, I’ve had the blessed opportunity to call Missoula, Montana my home.
Over the following years, I’ve had the privilege of immersing myself within its fast-paced community of bicycle enthusiasts and have gotten to know just a few of its unsung heroes who’ve really helped inspire and shape this prolific trend, hidden within the rocky mountains of northwestern Montana.
One man in particular stands out amongst the rest of this two-wheeled tribe and his name is Bob Giordano.
Currently, his community bike shop, Free Cycles is at risk of losing valuable ground, literally.
20 years of sweat, rigor, vision and tears has spawned a massive, counter-culture movement and the man behind this widely popular, grassroots effort is asking for our support.
“Bob Giordano, Executive Director and founder of Free Cycles and MIST, has been an active citizen of Missoula since 1994. Beginning his higher education at North Carolina State University with a Business Management major and Environmental Ethics minor, Bob was “always intrigued by the West.” Once he discovered the mountains and submerged himself in the rivers of Montana, he could not go back to his beloved Blue Ridge Mountains.
After learning and teaching about bicycles and healthy city design for the past twenty years, Bob is striving to create a more sustainable way of life for people and our relationships with the Earth.
Other passions include enjoying music around a fire, promoting clay, spending time with friends and family, carrying a wok on long-distance bike trips or spontaneously planning his next adventure.”
“It’s a long ride. 89 miles from here and the first 18 are uphill. It’s going to be a good day.”
~ Bob Giordano, Executive Director
“Free Cycles formed in 1996 to reduce air pollution by re-purposing unused bicycles. Over time, three core programs have emerged: Open Shop, Build A Bike, and BikeWell Education.”
While their programs are free and available to anyone, much of their time and energy is spent working with vulnerable and at-risk populations.
Build-a-Bike is exactly what it sounds like. Using a massive amount of donated parts and frames, a person can build a bike for little to no monetary cost.
Open Shop has brought 200,000 people from diverse backgrounds through their doors to fix and build bicycles. 18,000 free bikes have been earned, built, and ridden away by people seeking a pedaling lifestyle.
BikeWell classes have provided 5,000 participants with safety and maintenance skills.
Free Cycle’s mission seeks to create a healthy community through a wide range of strategies.
Ultimately, the goal of Free Cycles is to help Missoula, Montana transition to a more sustainable transportation system while simultaneously setting a strong example for other places. Through their programs they hope to help individuals they work with become active stewards of the community with an emphasis on social and environmental justice. They work towards this mission through education, empowerment, and engagement.
- Their education programs strive to give people the knowledge to maintain their bicycle independently, use it safely and eventually share their skills with others.
- By increasing the accessibility of human powered transportation, they seek to directly empower individuals from all walks of life with the ability to move themselves.
- Their projects focus on community engagement to facilitate a sense of collective responsibility, a strong sense of place and human connectivity.
Gaining the entire 28,000 sq. ft. building (they currently rent 1/3rd of the space) will allow for both a strengthening of core programs and the expansion of three additional programs: a fabrication center, transforming scrap bikes into adaptive mobility, a bicycle lending library and a Transportation Learning Center.
“Let’s celebrate 20 years of people power, honor the passion of collective community spirit, heighten awareness and unite for a cause in which we truly believe!”
“We learn how to build the world while we learn how to build a bicycle.” ~ Unknown
Free Cycles Provides:
- A free bicycle for every child
- A free bicycle for every adult willing to volunteer and learn
- Freedom of movement for all people through adaptive bikes
- Recycling of broken bikes into workable forms of transportation and art
- Training and empowering of citizens to enact life-saving road designs
“After 20 years, our roots have grown deep into the Missoula community. Our property is now for sale. Help us buy our home! We can expand services and further the progress of bicycles and community helping to build a sustainable world. Our goal is to raise 1.1 million and buy the entire 2 acres. Raising $330,000 allows us to make a down payment and take out a loan. Our current incomes can cover the payments! We would keep fundraising and pay off the loan over the next few years. Every dollar donated is critical and every dollar is well spent in securing a long term future for Free Cycles Missoula.
Please spread this to your networks: Support the Bike
Please send this to your networks to be involved with this campaign. Thanks and all support is greatly appreciated!”
The Vision (YouTube): Cycles of Change
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