Green Riders Doing Good Deeds Across Europe- Week 3

This is a guest blog by Suzie Roberts from the Green Riders.

I was recently contemplating why being apart of the Green Riders Europe tour was so important to me.

In the summer of 2016 I was on my first cycling tour solo. I met a friend named Marc living in Arcata, California. He invited me to volunteer at Food Not Bombs, an anarchist group who feeds anyone who is hungry for free. At the time Marc was living at a community called The Spoon House. Twice a week they hosted the cooking for Food Not Bombs in their kitchen. We hooked up bike trailers to our bikes and went around to grocery stores to collect the food that otherwise would have gone to the landfill. These grocery stores were expecting the food pick ups as they had this arrangement for a long time. The grocery stores loaded us up with rescued food. We brought the food back to the community and cooked a big meal that fed around 70 people in the Arcata Plaza. 

I absolutely loved the experience. We got to feed a lot of people and have a fun time doing so. Marc said that if I enjoyed doing that and I cycle then I should consider attending the Green Riders tour. He showed me a couple of Rob’s YouTube videos. I remember being so inspired when I saw a food mandala made of rescued dumpster food with Rob and Cheryl smiling inside of it. 

I am literally crying as I’m writing this because of how much Marc’s invite changed my life. It’s very rare I shed more than a tear, especially in a public place. Right now I’m sitting on a bench in Switzerland that has charging outlets and free WiFi with a view of Rhine Falls. 

The thought of cycling across the country, dumpster diving, and learning more about sustainability highly interested me. I attended the Earthship Academy in 2016 and continued to explore more natural building methods such as using bamboo the following year in India. I used Mason jars to buy bulk food and wanted to help the planet as much as I could. The idea of connecting with others who also wanted a sustainable and minimalistic lifestyle intrigued me. I wanted to learn more to be able to help more. My thoughts were that others who also wanted to do this would be pretty interesting people to meet. I didn’t realize that they would become my tribe, my family.

Me, Yoshi, and Jonathan radiating love!

The reason I decided to come back to the Green Riders Europe tour was not for the same reasons as the first. The reason I came back this year is because of the genuine human connection I am fortunate to have with these incredible humans I am honored to share life with. They are my chosen family and I know we will continue to gather, whether we are cycling or not.

One of the longest studies done by Harvard University on human happiness found that close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. Many of us on this tour and on this planet have had struggle, trauma, discontent, etc. It’s often the human connection that keeps us persevering through life. Coming from an authentic place while connecting with another human, no matter if we are happy or disgruntled, allows us to further bond. Being inclusive, we come from many different backgrounds and have a variety of beliefs and ideals. It’s often having discussion of different beliefs that allows us to broaden our perspective. Pedaling across beautiful landscapes is wonderful, but coming all together at group stops to commune, share, and selflessly give ourselves to those who could use our help is what brings me the greatest joy on the tour. 

 

The more we share and know, the more we care and grow.

 

By understanding and connecting with our fellow humans we can increase compassion for humans and all life forms. We are capable of detrimental harm to this planet, but we as a species also contain the knowledge to reverse our damage and allow this planet to thrive as well. For example, mycelium took hundreds of millions of years to learn how to break down lignin, a structural polymer that trees consist of. Plastic has existed for less than a hundred years, yet humans have trained mycelium to break down plastic. So mycelium has now stored this ability in their collective consciousness. We have the technology to never need to use fossil fuels again. I believe technological information is withheld and possibilities are denied because of greed. Would the monetarily elite feel the desire to hoard the majority of resources for themselves if they had experienced the camaraderie the Green Riders have created along this journey?

We experience many highs and lows across our journey. We laugh hysterically and occasionally cry during exhausting moments. We’ve always got someone on our team to lend a helping hand when we get a flat tire or listen to our feelings. Having this connection with others literally allows us to pedal thousands of kilometers. 

Helping Green Rider Jay with their flat tire

We have deep bonds within our group and we also experience welcoming generosity from our hosts. Strangers along the way that we meet briefly that help with directions, share a smile, or spontaneously open their home upon meeting constantly reminds and restores faith in the human spirit. 

I recently camped solo at a truck stop and when I awoke a trucker offered me coffee and I said yes. He also brought over bread, chocolate spread, jam and honey. He said meeting me and hearing my stories was the best day of his month. It’s beautiful that our travels gift others happiness. 

I also met a couple just before a rainstorm in the city and they offered to take me into their home. I let them know I would be leaving around 6 AM to start cycling. They woke up before I left and prepared me breakfast. They made me muesli with peanut butter, yoghurt, apples and bananas. 

Breakfast I was gifted at the truck stop

Green Riders sharing an amazing dinner with our generous and inspirational hosts Morena and Dorothea

These kind gestures I experience while cycle touring with the Green Riders constantly remind me how exceptionally beautiful humans are. Sometimes humans are scared of other humans. While telling some people I sleep outside or hitchhike I see them become worried and they tell me it is dangerous.  However, I am constantly shown kindness and compassion that continues to strengthen my faith in humans. For a while it was restoring my faith, but now it is my constant belief that the majority of people are innately good.

So, the reason I am here this year is to continue deepening my connection with incredible humans who are willing to cycle a great distance together while doing good deeds. All of the group stops along the way are similar to family reunions. My absolute favorite parts of the trip are when we all come together sometimes after days of cycling apart from each other. We arrive to the host in small groups or individually then get to share stories of our travels, which really vary widely from group to group or person to person. Recently we stayed at a lovely farm we found from WarmShowers. We volunteered on their farm where they bake bread from the wheat they grow and have a goal of growing most of their food. They open their community to all cyclists traveling through and have a workshop dedicated to repairing bikes. After communal dinner the children who lived on the farm put on an adorable acrobatic show for us. Their energy was so infectious that several Green Riders started doing acrobatics of their own. We shared so much laughter that night. All of these memories from cycling and volunteering are so meaningful to me and I am extremely pleased and grateful to be a part of this Green Rider Tribe.

*Green Riders call Oooooohooh*

The Green Riders thank everyone who donated to our cause to make Doing Good Deeds possible. Our seeds and select fruit trees are funded by the Live Like Ally Foundation via The Free Seed Project and Community Fruit Trees. We cannot thank them enough and encourage you to read more about these great initiatives. 

This Church is creating Food Sovereignty in their Community- Orlando, Florida

Churches own millions of acres of land around the world. Much of that land is used wastefully, just to grow grass. If that land was used to grow food, churches could be a the center of a food sovereignty movement. They could create local, sustainable food, feed their neighbors and improve their communities. My friend Pastor Sarah Robinson at Audubon Park Covenant Church in the Audubon Park neighborhood of Orlando, Florida is a great example of this vision.
Imagine if every church followed this example? We could greatly reduce hunger, provide healthy food to people in need and decrease our dependence on heavily fossil fuel based foods.

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Green Riders Doing Good Deeds Across Europe- Week 1

This is a guest blog by Gray Harrison from the Green Riders.

Hello dear readers! 

Lexi here, writing to you from Champvert, France. I thought I would give an introduction to what we plan to do with these blog posts. We are going to aim to have one Green Rider write a new blog post every week. These posts will give an overall summary of what our week has looked like while also evoking the personal experience of the rider who is writing the blog. They will touch on where we have biked through, where we have volunteered, and what the overall feel of the trip and group has been. Additionally we will share separate posts that will be short biographies of all of our Green Riders as well as highlights of some of our hosts and projects. 

Our first blog post is written by a first-generation Green Rider, Gray Harrison. A retired teacher, Gray hails from Fort Collins, Colorado where he volunteers his time to working on bicycles for their homeless population. He takes his bicycle skills and knowledge to the Green Riders tour where he always finds the time to help our riders with all of their bike ailments even after riding all day and doing other good deeds like picking up litter. Here is what he has to say:

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Green Riders Visit and Volunteer at the Community of Troglobal

This is a guest blog by Maya Madjar from the Green Riders.

On June 3, 2019, the Green Riders arrived to our very first project location near Grezille, France. After being received and treated so well by our first two hosts, we were all in good spirits for our third day of riding. I was in the group of the first Green Riders to arrive thanks to a sneaky shortcut we scoped out after lunch. Manoocha, a woman of boundless energy, welcomed us warmly and gave us a tour of the community that would soon catch everyone by surprise; the entire commune consisted of caves. Each varied in its color, shape, and size, yet they all carried the central theme of a dreamy and eclectic multi-cave house. Included in the layout was a library, communal kitchen, shower, and several hostel-like sleeping rooms alongside a private room with a greenhouse at the top. This may seem like a first-draft introduction to a fantasy book about a family living in caves with stained glass windows surrounded by fields of poppies. However, I am not here to fool you, and this is an actual place called “Troglobal.”

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How High School Student, Ella Diamond, Took Action to Reduce Food Waste in Her Community

Guest blog by Ella Diamond of Food Waste 4 Thought

Have you ever tossed out a mushy, old head of lettuce, thinking that it’ll break down
within a few days or a week? It’s only lettuce, you think to yourself. It’s natural, so it must not
take too long to decompose. Shockingly, landfill excavations have found instances of it taking 25 entire years for a head of lettuce to decompose! When food gets dumped in landfills, it tries to break down, but it doesn’t have the available oxygen, causing it not only to remain intact, but also to release methane gas
into the atmosphere. This greenhouse gas, more potent than carbon dioxide, makes food
waste a main contributor to climate change as it accounts for the largest source of municipal
waste in landfills. Meanwhile, a staggering one third of food produced worldwide is wasted when this
food could be feeding all of the world’s food insecure individuals.

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Planting 100 Fruit Trees with The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation

Last summer I had a film team from South America come to shoot a documentary about my life for TV in Latin America. They offered to pay me $5,000 to spend a week with me. I explained that I don’t accept any payments from media but that they can donate $5,000 to a nonprofit to do good work with. I chose the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and together we’d plant 100 fruit trees.

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Green Riders Good Deeds On Bikes- Europe Tour 2019

The Green Riders are back at it again. This time, cycling across Europe!

I am so elated to see the good deeds continuing on. I won’t personally be on this tour, but I will be there in spirit and supporting from home. The following is an announcement of the 2019 tour and all the details one would need to get involved, written by the Green Riders team.

-Rob Greenfield

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The Story of My Stolen Bamboo Bike

After nearly a year in the making, I am so excited to finally release the story of how my bamboo bike got stolen and the roller coaster ride I went on to try to get it back. Many of you saw the adventure as it unfolded, but you only saw a fraction of the whole story. When I decided to search for the bike I had a feeling it was going to be quite the adventure, so I decided to film it, but I never, ever expected it to turn out like this. I truly hope that you’ll take the time to watch this short film. I believe you’ll be very glad you did.

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Bamboo Bike Auction

UPDATE 05/17/19:
The bikes were purchased and given to some very happy children.
I worked with the Audubon Park School, just a few blocks from my home, and they found five students who had their bikes stolen recently and who’s parents weren’t able to get them a new one. The kids were so excited to receive their new bikes! The auction raised $700 and the cost of the five bikes was $728.37. A local nonprofit covered bike locks and helmets for the kids. That brings the total bike count up to 55.
I think it is safe to say that the bad deed that was done to me has been driven out by good deeds!
Thank you everyone for your support!

 

UPDATE 08/18/2018:

The bamboo bike auction is over and the bike has found a new home.
Tonia Howick won the bike for $700, all of which will be used to buy bikes for kids living in low-income scenarios.
Tonia teaches rhetoric at UF in Gainesville and has wanted to start commuting by bike for quite some time. She read my book this year and was inspired to get a bamboo bike. She wanted to purchase a used bike because she tries to buy used and not purchase new, but she was unable to find one. Then my auction popped up in her newsfeed! Today she came down from Gainesville to pick it up and she even brought me a lovely gift of homemade blueberry jam and a hand-knit dish cloth.
I’m so excited for this bike to go to her because this is going to help her start a new chapter of riding her bike to work.
The goodness of the bike will live on. I should be able to get bikes for about seven kids with these funds. And with the funds raised when this bike was stolen and returned, that will bring the total up to about 57 bikes for kids!
Talk about a bike that keeps on giving!

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