It's been a bikey time here at Rancho Beth.
Even as I now prepare for what will likely be my last year of that month-long teaching residency in Kansas, my mind is filled with thoughts about the shape of the planet, and the shape of my Self. I want to stay connected to the things that matter, like living lightly and leaving a smaller footprint. My muisic career has too often NOT been about that, and I've longed to find a better balance between that and the things that really espouse my environmental values.
Last week, I begin working half-shifts at Bikes For Humanity PDX, a non-profit enterprise based in Southeast Portland (basically, across town from where I live).
They'd placed a job listing with bikeportland.org and, being short of money and having no gigs lined up for July or August, I answered it.
They called me in for a lovely interview, and offered me a part-time seasonal position as a mechanic -- paying me slightly more per hour than my final wage at Citybikes six years ago. Happily, they understand that this is a second job and they are quite willing to work around both my music gigs and my Shabbat observance.
They're lovely folks, especially my boss Andrew, the Program manager.
Here are some shots from the last couple weeks of turning a wrench regularly again.
(below: don't laugh. After some lube and adjusting, it still works just fine. In a non-profit shop you don't fix what's not broken.)
(below: a combination of over-tightening, riding it hard and probably leaving it out in the rain. Both cranks looked like this, and don't ask me about that bottom bracket. Tragic.)
My boss' bike, a vintage Bianchi city roadster complete with -- OMG! -- that chain guard!
So sexy. The very definition of bike porn.
B4HPDX is a donation-based non-profit that gathers bikes, refurbishes them and send them out into the world through sales, earn-a-bike programs for adults, and grants to clients of social service agencies. In addition to their Portland shop, they run a seasonal satellite location in downtown Gresham and repair booths at every Sunday Parkways. Nice buncha folks. And they really like having a pro mechanic on hand to crank out refurbished bikes for their programs. I've been averaging two a day in a 3.5-hour shift. It feels good to be useful.
And now the truth: There is no way I could do this work full-time anymore. My hands could not take 10-hour days at a repair stand, four or five days a week. So while I'm glad to be making a little money doing something I know how to do, I also know that it's not a forever thing. I'm glad to do it part-time. I'm promised more shifts when I come back in July, and perhaps I'll wrench for them into early September until about a week before High Holy Days. After that, I hope to have more music work again to get me through the winter.
But for now, it's a really nice thing all around.
If you have bikes and parts to spare, why not drop them off this summer at B4HPDX?
I'm suspending my refugee bike efforts for the summer, because I haven't gotten many bikes and, well, I need to earn a living.
I'm inviting folks to donate to B4H.
They'll do good stuff with your donations.
Thanks, and happy riding!