As many of you already know, our dear friend and Missoula staple, Free Cycles, is in a financial pickle. They’re on the brink of losing the space they’ve called home for the past eleven years. That is unless they can fork up the money to stay. On Mother’s Day, May 8, 2016, the property’s owners plan on selling the space for $1.1 million dollars. However daunting this sum may be, the shop isn’t about to throw in their hats just yet.
On December 4th Free Cycles launched their Cycles of Change campaign. An aggressive six-month initiative designed to raise the money needed for the shop to purchase the space and establish permanent residency.
So far the campaign has raised approximately $100,000 of the $1.1 needed. Executive Director, Bob Giordano, likens the campaign to growing a garden. The seeds have been planted and the soil has been tilled. Many strong relationships have been formed through the tilling process, and the garden is just now beginning to bloom.
The campaign has raised the bulk of their money through general donations, but they have many projects in the works such as their canvassing team, Doorstep Democracy, and the Bikathon Challenge.
Doorstep Democracy has been greeted warmly throughout the Missoula valley. On average, canvassers receive donations on 1 out of every 3 doors knocked. This branch of the Cycles of Change campaign is about to see a tremendous surge. Bob anticipates a cavalry of bicyclists to envelop the garden city, leaving no door unknocked. No door left behind.
Remember Paul Revere’s midnight ride, where he warned everyone that the British were coming? Think of this as a modern-day ride, but with the same urgency. Free Cycles’ daytime bicycle ride warns Missoulian’s that the condominiums are coming! That is unless we band together and raise the financial capital needed to secure 732 S. 1st st. W. as Free Cycles’ permanent home.
Nestled in between Missoula’s two primary trails, the property is the ideal location for the community oriented bike facility. Owning the property would allow the shop to continue their phenomenal bike stewardship, strengthen their core capabilities, and expand their reach.
Other locations simply do not meet the organization’s needs. Hardwood floors are an absolute must! The physical location of the store, as said before, is critical. Patrons need accessibility. The core of the organization is to get people in motion. People come to Free Cycles needing mobility. They leave with a bike and a feeling that they’re part of something. The non-profit gives back far more than they get, serving over 25,000 people each year. And they absolutely love it. Free Cycles is about much more than bikes. It’s about building relationships and harboring an informed and engaged community.
Creativity is also at the forefront of the organization. The bike can serve other purposes besides mobility. Deconstruction and reverse engineering are a couple of skills the Free Cycles’ crew has come to hone. Pictured above are a few upcycled bicycle racks made with parts from the shop’s boneyard of bikes. It’s a cradle to cradle life cycle here for all bike parts. No bike part left behind.
Even a bathroom can benefit from repurposed bike parts. Broken lever? No problem, just grab an old brake lever and you’re good as new. New as in upcycled and repurposed, of course.
The warehouse, is another pertinent piece of the puzzle. Space is a huge necessity, the organization has thousands of bicycle parts and their inventory is growing every day.
The shop currently occupies just under half of the property’s two acres. Their proposed project includes a bike library, bike hostel, and a learning center to name a few. If they’re able to buy the spot, they would be the world’s largest bike service organization!
Since 1995 Free Cycles has helped Missoula transition to a more sustainable transportation system while simultaneously setting a strong example for other municipalities to follow suit.
As active stewards of the environment, the organization seeks to mobilize the community through education, empowerment, and engagement. Let's help these fine folks keep their home! Missoula needs Free Cycles. Go to http://www.freecycles.org/cyclesofchange/ for more information on how to get involved with the campaign.
This piece was written by Meaghan Browne, Upcycled's awesome intern, thanks Meghan!
This blog installment is a homage to random acts of upcycling in Missoula. The Garden City is full of recreated and repurposed wonders. Some of these you may recognize. Perhaps you pass by them on your daily commute/dogwalk/regular walk/bike ride/streaking session/jog? No matter which direction you go, you're bound to come across some upcycled awesomeness out there. So, to all the random upcyclists making our city just a little cooler, thanks for sharing your work and thanks for being badasses!
Here we have this north side’s most exquisite equine. This beaut greets us everyday as we travel along the northside’s bike path. It’s just one of the many art installations that makes this part of town a hotbed of creativity.
Coolest mailbox in town! Pretty sure this one's a boy.
Finally, let us bow our heads to this majestic warrior found on the north end of campus. The warrior is throwing a lance through a hoop, which is the traditional Native American hoop game. This gem was recreated with parts from abandoned automobiles. Thank you, Jay Laber, for adding some creative and cultural beauty to our campus.
This February Upcycled is taking First Friday off to support our fellow Upcyclists in person. We will be spending the night at Draught Works with their featured artist of the month, B. Martinez. She is a close friend of Upcycled and an active participant in Missoula’s art scene. She first began selling her art 7 years ago after her first First Friday hosted by the Green Light. She has since taken part in many First Friday’s and has become a popular name in the Garden City’s arts community.
She began making art when she was child and her mother handed her a glue gun, fabric scraps, a pair of scissors and a box of crayons. She quickly found herself akin to the creative process and has been inspired ever since. Today, she works with mixed media on reclaimed/recycled and liberated paneling/particle board/canvas/wood.
B. Martinez’s passion for repurposing materials is at the core of creativity and sustainability. American’s generate approximately 251 million tons’ of trash per year, with an unfortunately low recycling rate. Organic materials such as yard trimmings and food waste are the largest contributors to municipal solid waste. However, materials such as metals, rubber, textiles, leather and wood make up a significant fraction of our country’s waste.
Through the creative process, she seeks to lighten our landfills and inspire resourcefulness. It’s easy to see why we at Upcycled are so fond of this artist, we share the same philosophy waste not, want not.
So, if you find yourself wanting some nifty recycled art, you should probably heed that call. Join us this Friday, February 5th, at Draught Works Brewery for some great beers, great company and some liberated lumber.
Q&A: Frank Humphreys
The First Friday, February 6th, Upcycled is honored to feature the art of local metal bender Frank Humphreys. Prior to his show, we caught up with Frank and asked him a few questions.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m a longtime resident of Missoula. I've always loved to be out exploring in the woods. I'm delighted to find anything old or funky. I also drive school bus for Hellgate Elementary.
How did you get started?
I got started by seeing something cool that someone had made out of old, rusty metal and thought to myself, “I can do that.” So I began collecting old tin from junk piles. I began a journey of learning how to use a pair of 100 year old tin snips, some old wire, and a pair of pliers to fashion different objects, icons, and eventually – flowers.
What sets your work apart?
I learned everything I do by trial and error. In that sense, everything I do is uniquely mine.
Tell us about your process?
Part of my nature is to see art and beauty in the funkiest and rustiest of objects. I like the idea of redeeming what was forgotten or discarded into something that could bring back a memory or be an expression of beauty out of that decay. I find energy to work on the artwork when I have interesting items in front of me. Then I can allow my imagination to roam.
Where do you see your art in five years?
I’d like to move more into working with wood, painting techniques, and incorporating the rusted metal work with the woodwork.
Any advice for up and coming Artisans?
Advice: find what interests you and just begin. Trust that you’ll find the ability. You will discover things you never imagined when you first started out.
Q&A: Sean Kochel
Random musings, interviews and other prose...