In 2013, Andrew Stein (ME2SB’13) surveyed the Bike & Build alumni community to gauge their continued involvement. Out of 415 respondents, he found:
Executive Director of Bike Denver – NC2SD 2007
“It was the most transformational experience of my life,” she said, describing her NC2SD trip in 2007. “My body literally carried me across the country. It’s incredibly affirming to know what each person can do mentally and physically.”
After Bike & Build, Molly moved to Fort Collins, CO. She co-founded Rolling Spokes Bike Tours, exposing riders to locally grown food. She later became assistant bike coordinator for Fort Collins, where she led the city to be recognized as a Platinum Level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists in 2013.
Today, Molly is the executive director of Bike Denver, a nonprofit advocacy group working to make Denver a better place for people on bikes. “I’m working to create a safe, healthy, equitable and vibrant community by advocating for a bicycle friendly Denver,” she explained. “I love the opportunity I have now with Bike Denver. There is a contagious momentum that builds when a group of people pulls toward the same goal. I want to inspire everyone in Denver to create this social movement with me to create the best city we can.”
Inspiring this movement in Denver is similar to Molly’s experience with group rides. “With Bike & Build, there was something sacred about what I shared with each person,” she said. “Bike & Build gave me a sturdy foundation of self-confidence. When I don’t think I can handle one more meeting or climb one more hill, I remember that I can do this.”
Architect at Atkin Olshin Schade Architects, Santa Fe, NM – SC2SC 2013 (leader)
After graduating with a degree in architecture in 2012 from Washington University in St. Louis, JD moved to Colorado to start his first job working construction for Habitat for Humanity. One day on the work site, a group of bike riders arrived to assist him and his team.
“Working alongside the Bike & Build group made me immediately want to get involved and lead a trip,” he said.
“My Bike & Build ride confirmed my career choice,” he said. “In just months our trip successfully raised over $150,000 for the ride. A group of riders raising that amount of money was inspirational. The experience proved to me that young people are capable of making real, positive change.”
Today, JD is an architect at Atkin Olshin Schade Architects in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The firm works almost exclusively with Native American groups on housing renovations and urban design projects. In August 2014, JD will begin work on his master’s degree in architecture at Tulane University where he will be involved in the still much-needed rebuilding effort of homes in New Orleans.
“Many of my fellow Bike & Build teammates had the same realization as I did from the trip. They too are making a career and a life out of affordable housing work. Others were inspired to become leaders in other fields, or for other causes,” he continued. “Bike & Build influenced us all to take action towards positive change.”
Data Manager at Heading Home, Boston, MA – ME2SB 2012
After graduating college in 2012, Karla was unsure of the career she wanted. What she did know was that she was curious about travel and about what life had in store. Days after graduation, Karla jumped on her bike and began the longest ride of her life.
“I struggled a lot during the first couple of weeks,” Karla said when describing her Bike & Build ride. “Luckily, everyone on the trip had a ‘no one gets left behind’ attitude. The support I received was incredibly encouraging.”
The opportunity to build homes along the way was what inspired Karla to ride with Bike & Build. She was already involved with Habitat for Humanity and had developed an intense passion for affordable housing.
During the trip, Karla met many minorities and immigrants receiving homes. As a native of Mexico, and growing up in a country with a view that everybody in the U.S. had wealth, the experience was eye-opening. She said, “It was an enriching experience to learn that there were less fortunate people, and the need for social justice, everywhere. I felt empowered to help homeowners who also spoke Spanish and were very much like me.”
Through conversations with people during her Bike & Build ride, Karla realized she needed to make one of her loves – affordable housing – her life’s work. Today, she is the data manager at Heading Home, a non-profit organization in Boston working to end homelessness for good. Karla uses her knowledge of science and economics to shape programs to support families and individuals dealing with homelessness.
“I’m passionate not only about affordable housing, but about what happens after people get a new home,” she explained. “After Bike & Build, I got even more involved in the ‘after’. That trip increased my curiosity about affordable housing in millions of ways.”
Peace Corps Volunteer – P2S 2011
In Dan third year of graduate school, during his pursuit of a Ph.D. in theoretical mathematics, he felt unfulfilled. “I needed to do something more personally engaging…in a totally non-academic way,” he explained. In the summer of 2011, Dan started pedaling in Providence, RI. Sixty nine days and 4,000 miles later he finished his ride cross country in Seattle. That ride changed his life. “I found the confidence to admit I was unhappy and to leave grad school – a terrifying, liberating and existentially unnerving decision,” he said.
While the ride gave him an incredible sense of accomplishment both physically and mentally, Dan described being immersed in the lives of 30 riders, day and night, and the close-knit group that formed, as the most valuable aspect of his ride.
“I rode with riders who were nothing like me, and during Bike & Build you’re stuck with each other. This allowed me to recognize the commonalities I had with others, even if the commonality was just an interest in discussing our differences. Bike & Build challenged my idea of who I thought of as a friend. In people I disagreed with fundamentally, I recognized traits that I respected immensely. That was my take away from the ride – to look for the best in people, to never write off a relationship and to make every friendship I develop into a personal challenge to better myself.”
Since June of 2013, Dan has served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the education sector in The Gambia, West Africa. He currently works with math and science teachers in grades 7-12 to improve teaching methods. Beyond teaching, Dan also educates students about bikes. He supports a local teacher’s bike rental program that eases school commutes. Students who previously walked 15km (over nine miles) a day to school can ride a bike, increasing access to education.
Interestingly, Dan has also discovered the secret to biking across the country. “Step one: start peddling. There is no step two. Except, perhaps, eat as much as you can! Those things in life that sound impossible or difficult just take a bit of commitment.”