The Blog

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Storage unit finished . . . enough - Time for E-Bikes

View of storage shed from the parking lot.  Tin will become the 'canvas' for a mural.

Storage shed from the 'business' side.

The last view of the storage area before it gets filled up.

On Tuesday, I spent a few hours finishing up the major building on the storage shed for donated bikes.
During the process, many of the students got involved.  Probably the most fun and surprising help came from a couple of the female students who took ownership of getting the corrugated tin walls wired to the cyclone fence.  They insisted that it was their project so I saved the work for them when they had time to help.  They did a great job and the wall looks great.
We are looking at the wall as a palette for a mural.  Another student is a graffiti artist and he is going to bring some design ideas for painting the tin wall.  It's a 8 foot high by almost 30 foot space that will hopefully get painted in a colorful way that promotes the activities of the Green Academy.  Those activities include the garden, the chickens, the bicycle restoration project and other "green" activities.  It will be fun to watch the mural take shape.
As I've been working at the school, I'm slowly getting to know some of the students and learning about their lives.  There are a number of the students who are "high-risk".  They are not very committed to academics, they have had negative encounters with authorities and I can see that if they don't find a productive outlet for some of their energy, there is a real possibility of bad outcomes.  On the other hand, some of these same students are fascinated by bicycles.  I see real potential for positive outcomes driven by engagement with bicycles.  Hopefully, the electric bicycles will add another level of attraction for some of these students and get them involved in building better lives for themselves and bicycles that will get more people out of cars.
Next week, I will start with electric bikes.  I haven't quite figured out how to get the program going since there are significant financial hurdles to building e-bikes.  I've been toying with a few ideas but I think I will see where the interest is first and then figure out how to fund the building of e-bikes.  One model is to pre-sell electric bikes based on allowing the use of one of my existing bikes.  Another model is to cover the cost of building a bike or two and loaning them out as rewards for students who are helpful. Getting students to raise enough money to buy a conversion kit for their own bike is another model.  We'll see what unfolds.

As an aside, brother Michael is committed to building electric cargo bikes for people who need to haul more than just their bodies around.  His skill as a woodworker helped him build a beautiful trailer for one of his bikes that is going to a restaurant over in Oakland.  Before he delivers it, he is testing the trailer by moving his entire household to a new house about 3 miles away.  Lots of trips but he has been having a great time making the move.