Bowing at a Human Pace

January/February 2011 | Momentum Magazine | Download PDF

Musician Ben Sollee didn’t ride much before 2009, when he embarked on a 200-mile (322-kilometer) tour from his home in Lexington, KY, to the Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, TN. But an ad for an Xtracycle cargo bike sparked the idea of using a bike for his music tours. He and his family now use a Surly Big Dummy in place of a minivan.

He’s covered a lot of ground since then. A December 2009 trip was followed by the 2010 Ditch the Van tour, for which Sollee – along with percussionist Jordan Ellis, tour manager Katie Benson and her brother, filmmaker Marty Benson – cycled 1,800 of the 4,000 miles from California to Washington, DC.

The idea of a pedal-powered tour is tinged with green, but environmental concerns aren’t what motivated Sollee.

“If I was trying to do it to save the world or be green, I think it would stop pretty quick,” he said. Continue reading →

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The Art of Recycling Bikes

September/October 2010 | Momentum Magazine | Download PDF

The 13th puncture turned out to be a lucky one for Graham Bergh. As he prepared to replace the heavily patched inner tube, he wondered: “Okay, what do you do with this?”

Unable to bring himself to just throw it out, the recycling educator turned it into a cradle for his speakers.

“I just started tinkering with the material, talking to bike shops, finding out they throw away like a thousand tubes per shop,” Bergh said. “There are 4,000 shops in the US. I did the math: There were four million tubes no one was doing anything with.” Continue reading →

The war for the woods

November 24, 2005 | The Martlet and Canadian University Press

Ten years of negotiations and a landmark consensus threatened by government delays

Photo by Al Harvey/Slidefarm

There is peace in the Great Bear Rainforest, but it is a tentative peace.

Over the past four years, stakeholders—local communities, logging companies, labour, tourism and conservationists, among others—have sat down and banged out a land-use plan for the Central Coast, also known as the Great Bear Rainforest.

Located along B.C.’s coast between Bute Inlet and the Alaskan border, the Great Bear Rainforest is the last, largest stand of intact temperate old growth rainforest in the world, as well as the largest contiguous area of unprotected rainforest.

It has been nearly two years since those groups completed the first of two consensus agreements on land-use in the Great Bear Rainforest. Those agreements were followed by direct negotiations between provincial and First Nations governments in order to finalize the plan.

Although far from perfect, the plan is significant: it marks the first time the different sides have agreed on pretty much anything.

They’ve come up with a plan, but now it is all at risk, thanks to the provincial government, who missed a self-imposed December 2004 deadline for approving the agreement. Two additional deadlines—Spring 2005 and “end of summer”—have since passed, and stakeholders are worried there is more than the agreement at risk: much of the funding was promised based on approval. If it takes any longer, that funding might just disappear.

Roughly 8.5 million hectares of ancient cedar, salmon, wolf and bear habitat in the temperate rainforest are at stake, along with a billion dollars in wood and wood products sales and $200 million in financing for conservation-based economic initiatives.

Even more than that, 10 years of work at changing how environmentalists, industry and First Nations interact could be undone.

For years, all parties set aside confrontation in favour of negotiation,” said Amanda Carr, a Greenpeace campaigner. “But the value of the negotiation route is in question given the [provincial government]’s continued failure to meet commitments and timelines.”

Continue reading →