Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bike Shift Levers Available for Purchase

For the past few months I’ve focused much of my time on casting, preparing, assembling, and shipping Bike Shift Levers; all of them to our wonderful, patient Kickstarter donors who helped make the project possible. They had to wait a full year before finally seeing their shift lever arrive in the mail. Even though I understood the delays that had kept the mold from being machined, I couldn’t expect these great folks to be that patient. You have no idea what a relief it was to drop the last donor-shifter package in the mail.
Not only am I celebrating the end of that task, I can finally say that these lovely levers, designed for easy production and repair by people who rely on their bicycles, are available for sale! And they are already selling!  

So my casting and production continues, but the stress of obligation has been replaced by excitement to build One Street’s bicycle program support through sales. Two nights ago I watched as these two frames slid into the molten pool, on their way to becoming Bike Shift Levers.  

I’m also looking forward to finally reaching out to potential license partners who can produce these shift levers for their region of the world. Our book for the program, Backyard Aluminum Casting, is also available for sale in our web store at as well as through book vendors around the world. Using that book, anyone, license partner or not, can build their own aluminum casting foundry.

Tonight I posted to our home page our collection of Gift Ideas from One Street . These include the Bike Shift Lever, our books, and even a scholarship fund to help us connect with potential license partners and cover half of their one-time license fee. If you’re looking for a fun gift for a bike enthusiast, a Bike Shift Lever made from scrap aluminum cans and bike frames could be just the thing. Or if your friends and family members are tired of opening gifts, covering a scholarship in their name could be their perfect gift.

I’m so relieved to finally have the chance to offer all of these great resources. Let me know if you don’t see the combination that suits your needs on that Gift Ideas form and I’m sure we can figure something out.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Detroit as Bicycle Business Model

I’ve been intrigued by the potential of Detroit for many years now. Its slip away from car manufacturing and abandonment by motorized corporate investors has torn the city open into a place where just about anything could happen. Bleak, empty factories can glimmer like castles to the right visionaries. And sure enough, many of those visionaries have entered the scene on two wheels.

A recent article in Fortune magazine shines the spotlight on a few of these new bicycle manufacturing and distribution businesses. Another recent article, this one in Bicycle Retailer & Industry News (unfortunately, not available to nonsubscribers), also noted the renaissance of bicycle manufacturing in the former “Motor City.” That article even features a retail storefront called The Hub that supports Back Alley Bikes, a nonprofit community bike program.

Between these two articles, I was most fascinated by the second-to-last paragraph in Bicycle Retailer that follows a reality check of low bicycling numbers and a dearth of bike shops:

“Still, there is a prevalent optimism that radiates from Detroiters. Some say that Detroit’s renaissance today is coming from within the residents—which sets it apart from past efforts to ‘save’ Detroit.”

This strikes me as the very sort of example I was looking for in my last post, Does Charity Suck Energy Away from Solutions? Charity is not “saving” Detroit. Detroiters are doing it for themselves. And because of this, I believe they will succeed. And I’m darn pleased that many of them are doing it through bicycle manufacturing. Enabling impoverished and struggling people to develop and implement solutions themselves is at the heart of Social Bike Business. Detroit is becoming a proving ground that shows that principle succeeding.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Does Charity Suck Energy Away from Solutions?

This morning I received an excellent e-newsletter from our local poverty-relief nonprofit, the Coalition for Compassion and Justice (CCJ) here in Prescott. Their efforts to provide warm clothing and to weatherproof houses for impoverished people are so important, especially as winter descends. Incredibly, nearly one third of our county’s children suffer from hunger every day. This has not changed at all over the last 20 years. Their parents, who are struggling to feed their children, certainly do not have the resources to buy warm clothes or repair broken windows, walls, and roofs.
These statistics and the photos of needy families inspire us to help. The jobs are easy—deliver some extra clothing you don’t need or spend an afternoon fixing windows. CCJ and organizations like them have armies of volunteers and donors helping out.

Even as one of their donors of food and clothing, I am bothered by charity programs. I often wonder if even a fraction of the energy spent through one-way charity programs that give to “the needy” was spent working with impoverished people to solve poverty, we would be a lot farther along than we are today.

Leaders I work with through our Social Bike Business Program often bemoan the lack of helpers and donors they have. In order to start strong, these business-minded organizations need help. But their long-term visions of careers through profitable sales don’t yank heartstrings like immediate needs.

How are some of you overcoming this with your social bike business programs? Have you found ways to entice people to help that do not rely on urgent response to people in need? Does your program have good examples of messages that have drawn helpers and donors? If so, please share them in the comments box. Let’s start shifting some of this reactive energy into long-term solutions that help impoverished people lift themselves out of poverty!