So my trip from home to Clarkston, Georgia via bike is long, and I’m not linear so there are often many stops.
This day — in addition to my usual checking on the free public fruit (currently native persimmons), talking to strangers, and taking photos leaping in front of art — I also walked with my friend Judy for an hour or so in a cemetery (as is our habit) and then, of course, harvested at the Sharing Garden. I had created that (along with help from Rebecca) the day I heard about the fall of the Afghan government to the Taliban, knowing that more refugees would be coming to this most-diverse-square-mile in the USA (albeit, changing fast).
With crops bungee-corded on my back rack, I helped two African boys-on-bikes cross a busy road. They asked me if I was going to the bike event, and I was, while on my way to drop the crops in the community fridge at Refugee Coffee.
And that’s where I met Mike Flueckiger in person, finally, for the first time.
Mike was just wrapping up the Global Spokes’ Pedalpalooza bike rodeo (featured on the Biketober calendar, per his tipping me off to it previously).
We have been friends since the National Bike Summit last March when we served together as part of the Georgia delegation to our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. (virtually, this year, so we hadn’t met in person).
Mike is featured in my Meet series as someone making it more welcoming to ride bikes as the Chief Mechanic for Global Spokes, a bike shop opening soon right there in Clarkston on the path from Atlanta to Stone Mountain.
Mike and his partners from SOPO, a bike cooperative, are already doing significant outreach with the local refugee population, including at the Global Village Project school for refugee girls where I had volunteered the fall before the pandemic while waiting for my Peace Corps assignment.
He helped out my friend by providing her with the same bike as Schwinneola, even driving it hours away to deliver it. (Her life has changed dramatically for the better since then, by the way.)
This day, I met not only Mike but two of his friends, Walter and Larry. An Afghani family here in the USA just two days was leaving with bikes and skills — and now, crops. And somehow I had that feeling I get that Mike and I are not done with each other yet. That perhaps we can do some great things together — or as Mother Teresa suggested, small things with great love. Who knows — maybe I was meant to meet Walter and Larry that day for a reason as well.
My term as the first Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor with the Amsterdam-based social enterprise BYCS shifts from a Metro Atlanta focus to 100% global focus* starting November 1.
Yet . . . the world is right here.
Here is a photo that Mike took that shows some of the small things with great love that happened that morning. What’s next? Stay tuned.
*I’ll be shining a light on additional bicycle mayors around the world (I’ve already featured all the Canadian bicycle mayors) who are making it more welcoming for women and girls to ride bikes, and further building out the “You Go, Girl!” toolkit for global application — see this new website.
Afghanistan and Haiti, and How the USA State of Georgia Is Helping (and How You Can, Too)