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!
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