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Tuesday
Apr262011

Spam Musubi, School Screenings, and City Lights

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind cross-country (and back) adventure. I continue to be amazed by the path that the film has taken . Every screening has spawned 2-3 more, and the crowds just keep getting bigger. Maybe it is the rising gas prices. Maybe it is Mirriam’s infectious smile or Carlos’s pedal-powered wonders. I still can’t believe that just a year ago we were just starting to plan out our summer shooting schedule! This project has taken a life of its own. Here is a brief and long overdue update of the last three weeks in the life of With My Own Two Wheels

Honolulu

Going from the urban jungle of DC to my friend Leyla’s home in the surreally tranquil rainforest above Honolulu was almost as much of a culture shock as going from India to Japan at the end of our film shoot last summer. I woke up on the morning of the screening to a veritable menagerie of birds in the forest just across the street. Awesome.

Leyla, Daniel, and the rest of the folks at Cycle Manoa (UH’s student run Bici Centro) organized a great screening in the University of Hawaii, Manoa Art Department Auditorium. Easily the biggest screen that we have shown the film on thus far. Highlight of the night: a woman in the front row literally taking a “next pedalstroke” with Cycling Manoa on her iPhone right there in the theater! Thanks to Daniel and the crew for letting me join them on the Haleiwa Metric Century the day after the screening! Beautiful beaches, killer headwinds (tailwinds on the way back!), and my first post-ride spam musubi. Hawaii two-wheeling at its finest.

Seattle

 First taste of Seattle: a 40 mile out and back ride to do a sound check at Cascadia Communty College around the stunning Lake Washington…with snowcapped peaks in the background...all on bike path! Seattle definitely takes the cake as the most bike-friendly city that I have visited thus far. They even have a sick urban mountain bike skills park…under I-5!

After I got over the momentary impulse to hit up the pump track on my breakaway (likely breaking myself in the process), it was off to Cascadia Community College with Mike Kollins, my Seattle host and the COO of World Bicycle Relief. I had been expecting a crowd of say 30 students and a few faculty members in a small lecture hall. I couldn’t have been more surprised. The awesome duo of Megan Luce and Jessica Ketcham packed the state-of-the-art auditorium with over 200 students from over 7 classes. The normal rows of chairs had been removed to make room for a dozen or so small tables. Students were assigned to tables to ensure that each small group had a student from every class. As I walked among the tables during the post-screening discussion, it was great to hear students from Globalization, Economics, Political Science, Math, Art, and English classes all contributing different views to the debate. Couldn’t ask for a better school screening, both in terms of structure and participation.

Megan and Jessica have definitely taken several “next pedalstrokes” with their students at Cascadia. With My Own Two Wheels was just the launching point for a quarter-long focus on the bicycle across all academic disciplines at Cascadia. Can’t wait to see what two-wheel focused lessons the faculty at Cascadia come up with! Here is an excerpt from Cascadia President Eric Murray’s Friday letter:

“I couldn’t have been more impressed with Wednesday’s “bike film” in Mobius. Faculty from across 7 disciplines brought their classes together to view this film on the impact of the bicycle across the world. The director/producer was on hand as well. The students were completely captivated. Social justice, diversity, and global awareness were all wrapped around the common theme of the bicycle. Impressive.”

Looking forward to sharing Cascadia’s model with other schools across the country. Megan and Jessica’s work is a great example of how far educators can run (or ride) with the themes of With My Own Two Wheels in their classrooms. Thanks to Mike Kollins of WBR everyone at Cascadia for making our first big school screening such a big success!

Note: I also got a chance to meet with a few more potential screening hosts in Seattle. Can’t share any details yet, but look for at least one more big Seattle screening during the week of June 12th-17th.

 

 

Chicago/Ripon, Wisconsin

After Seattle, it was time to bring Two Wheels to WBR’s hometown: Chicago. Due to a literal act of God (pastor of our church venue passed away), the WBR-hosted screening had to be postponed. However, I still had two great screenings at Northwestern and Benito Juarez High School.

Yannell Selman (Northwestern Cycling), Rosalie Sangenitto and Stacy Moon (Studio 22), and Sana Rahim (Global Engagement Summit) organized a great screening at Northwestern. Despite the stormy weather, a good-sized crowd showed up, including many of the international delegates from the upcoming Northwestern Global Engagement Summit. Not sure how many countries we had represented in the crowd, but it was definitely the most international screening that I have done thus far. Hoping that some of the delegates might consider bringing the film to their home universities abroad.

In between the Chicago screenings, I drove up to Ripon, WI for an evening with the Ripon College Red Hawks Cycling Team. Before the screening, I got in a ride with Coach Ric Damm and one of his riders, Paul Meuer. Great spin through snow-covered farmland. Way different than the hills back home in Berkeley and Santa Barbara. Big thanks to Ric and his family for welcoming me into their home, as well as those on the cycling team who helped get the word out and secure funding for my trip.

The second Chicago screening at Benito Juarez HS was a fundraiser for Working Bikes Cooperative, Chicago’s equivalent of Bikes Not Bombs. Working Bikes has sent containers to both Mirriam’s Ability Bikes and Carlos’s Maya Pedal, so they were the perfect local and global next pedalstroke. For some reason, the heavens also decided to open up that night, but that didn’t stop a small crowd including Alderman Danny Solís from showing up to see the film. Thanks to Raul and Gaby at Working Bikes, Principal Ocon of Benito Juarez HS, and Alderman Solís for making the evening a success!

Up next: Dartmouth, Cleveland, Austin, and Tour of California madness!