Sunday, January 22, 2012

a small home tour

About two months into my trip i started scheming for my return to the states. Corresponding with friends and former teachers i was able to arrange several presentations and one workshop for the week of my return. My first stop would be my old highschool, Cheltenham, to present to both the environmental studies classes and the spanish honor society. After that i would travel to upstate NY to present to Old Chatham Monthly Meeting (a group of quakers i lived and worked with for several years) and then i'd bus to the other side of the state to build a blender with a group of art students at Alfred University.

I went through all my photos to come up with enough to make a well rounded slideshow. And then came the fun part- digging through my parents basement to see what I could find by way of bikes. I was fortunate enough to bring home with me one of Carlos’ creations, a rear-rack blender. My thought was that it would come with me and that every slideshow would end in smoothie making. The challenge was twofold, finding a bike would fit to the dimensions of the blender rack, and getting it set up in the absence of any actual bike tools or equipment. Fortunately, resourcefulness was one the main take aways from Maya Pedal.

To get the blender into my carry-on I had to disassemble it to a certain degree. Putting it back together without a vise or a real workbench was awkward, it really needed to be held still. (I think I also might have needed to make additional parts for it at this point too, but its been so many years I can’t really remember.)

So my mom’s bike, while the best maintained and prettiest, was too small. My dad’s too rusty. My brother’s, just right. Well, not exactly, but it worked.

I needed a bike stand to be able to properly install the rack, specifically to get the rear wheel of the ground for testing purposes. No rack. But there was rope, so I hung it up from the rafters in the basement ceiling.

I had to finagle with it for a bit, but it got there.

The next step was to figure out a stand for it. In Guatemala we had these pretty simple, and somewhat unstable, metal fixtures that would prop up the rear wheel for exactly this purpose. I had been given a small home welding kit for Christmas, so I stepped out in the back yard to give it a whirl.

Although never having done gas welding before, I thought I could figure it out easy enough. Wrong. Couldn’t even get the damn thing to turn on.

So I stepped next door to ask if they had a welder. Worth a shot, right? No welder, but they did have an off season training stand- never heard of it before, but it was perfect, and already built. Can I borrow it for a while? Sure. (Thanks again Dan, I owe you lunch).

Off to my first stop, CHS.

First the slides, a briefing on peak oil, and then what everyone was waiting for- smoothies.

I gave several presentations that day, 3 to environmental science classes and one to the Spanish honors society. People seemed pretty excited about the machines and the organization, some said they might even go.

Overall good day, great chance to inspire the next wave of potential volunteers, catch up with some terrific former teachers, and give a bunch of high school students copious amounts of sugar during class.

My next stop was Old Chatham, New York. I’d lived there briefly as a kid, then came back to the area during college to do house building with the Quaker Intentional Village Project.

The slide presentation was a big hit, all ages alike were excited to see the pictures and hear the stories.

It was another great opportunity to catch up with old friends, and see how the community was doing with its house building.

And of course, smoothies.