Our planning began in April with a modest Google map, then a Facebook page, and finally a full-fledged web site with Course/Schedule, Events, Voting Information, Playlist, Podcasts, and Participation Form. With the recording of the video above, we are officially ON THE ROAD, ergo our new page! Over the next 54 days, I will sign in regularly with action updates. Stay tuned!
Hindsight is 2020!
Now it is time to review the Bikeathon. The goal is to collect valuable insights for our work in 2019 and 2020. Until the end of the year, look for my weekly postings here.
WE ARE PROGRESSIVES ON THE MOVE!!!
On the road in the Midwest, Our Revolution groups in Madison, WI, Chicago; IL; Jackson, MI; Cleveland, PA; and Pittsburgh PA supported the Bikeathon. Today we join them in wishing everone Happy Holidays and plenty of Good Will! It is our continuing work on the enduring American revolution, one many see as having begun in other places long, long ago, that promises the greatest prospect for that future we can really believe in!
On the road in the Midwest, the Bikeathoners cycled in solidarity with the MARCH FOR OUR LIVES movement. We also supported Students Demand Action and Moms Demand Action! Today, we applaud the efforts of all who have fought so hard to ban bump stocks and speak with one voice, when we assert: This is only the beginning!
From Paris to Pittsburgh asserts the irrefutable link between the Paris Climate Accord and sustainable development in cities like Pittsburgh. On the road from Madison to Pittsburgh, the Bikeathoners were eyewitnesses to the same. Bike trails, like those along the flooding Rock River in southern Wisconsin, nature preserves next to shuttered and open steel mills from Lake Michigan to Lake Erie, "smart" urban planning in some of the challenged nieghborhoods in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh offered ample evidence of promising Midwestern transition. Now, it is up to us to ensure our representatives, including our next President, accelerate that transition everywhere in the U.S., embracing the Green New Deal with the following goals:
--100% of national power generation from renewable sources;
--Building a national, energy-efficient, “smart” grid;
--Upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety;
--Decarbonizing the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries;
--Decarbonizing, repairing and improving transportation and other infrastructure;
--Funding massive investment in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases;
--Making “green” technology, industry, expertise, products and services a major export of the United States, with the aim of becoming the undisputed international leader in helping other countries transition to completely carbon neutral economies and bringing about a global Green New Deal!
Take a look at the Tiny Homes Project in Detroit. for example!
WHO DO YOU THINK WILL RUN FOR PRESIDENT IN 2020? While cycling through the Midwest, that was one of my "go to" questions with people I met for the first time. It was a great way to learn what might be a good way to proceed with the conversation. For those who are wondering about Democratic, Republican, Independent, Green, and other options, here is the most detailed list I have seen. What do you think?
As the dust settles on the Midterms, it is time to renew our focus on progressive priorities and get to work!
--Irksome election irregularities keep the need for ethics and election reform front and center. We must continue to fight voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the influence of dark money in politics!
--Irksome tax reform consequences speak loud and clear. It is time to stop, once and for all, giving millionaires and billionaires even more of our resources and expecting them to solve our problems. That is the job of the representatives we elect! And it is our job! We must redouble our efforts to ensure our representatives have the resources necessary to implement progressive policies and know we hold them accountable. Working with them is an excellent method to ensure effective resource management. . . .
--Progressive policies? There is much work to be done! There is much work we can do! Here is my top ten list:
Decrease Income Inequality
Combat Climate Change
Demand Medicare for All
Decrease Post-Secondary Education Cost
Minimize Big Money in Politics
Focus on Human Rights and Partnership in Foreign Policy
Implement Immigration Reform
Guarantee Equal Rights for All
Ensure Criminal Justice
Pass Reasonable Gun Laws
What is yours?
On the road in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania progressive candidates, activists, and citizens impressed me immensely with their commitment to that future we can really believe in. Several candidates won their races for seats in the Senate and House of Representatives--more than enough to constitute an effective opposition to unreasonable policies emanating from the White House and supported by so many Republicans whose lack of integrity sobers us all. Many more succeeded in their races at the state, county, and local levels--a trend that establishes a great foundation for the next election cycle. So, too, did many progressive referenda, including initiatives to curb the aggravating influence of dark money and voter suppression. I heartily congratulate all who worked so hard to ensure these successes!
Today, I especially wish to acknowledge the achievements of those whose efforts came up a little short. While we wish more candidates, many who ran for the first time, would have been elected, I consider their ability to challenge their opponents seriously extremely important. They, too, have contributed to our foundation for continued progressive success. I encourage all to lick their wounds and return to the fray in the coming year. We must make it crystal clear that we stand side by side with them. Together we are progressives on the move!
Many of us hesitate when naming the current President. Does he deserve the title? Strong pro and contra claims have been made. As the evaluation continues, Robert Mueller and the new Congress will influence it significantly. While awaiting their input, we must recognize our role as citizens and voters. I join those who perceive Donald Trump as apprentice whose performance is judged by us daily as citizens. If he runs for President in 2020, we will have the opportunity to pronounce our judgment as voters.
Thanks to all who have been following the Bikeathon! Some may wonder what I have been doing since election day. In addition to preparing for my return to Vienna today, I have been following the live election results, asking the following questions:
1. What will be the final numbers in the Senate, House, as well as at the state and local levels?
2. What is the significance of the increased voter turnout and the narrow difference between winning and losing in so many races?
3. What can we learn about the Midterms moving forward?
I am consulting various sources, including the NYT election results:
It is fascinating to monitor the developing election outcome narratives. It is sobering to see how the current President is reacting. Sigh . . . .
This morning Don and Lori Hockenberry invited me to join them for voting. We arrived at their polling place at 8:30 AM where, after only 90 minutes of voting, Lori was the 110th and Don was 113th voter. Voters were moving quickly, and the poll officials estimated a high turnout.
My sense is that the character of our country is on the ballot. Are we making America great for the few at the expense of the many? Can we do better, striving for the benefit of all? The Bikeathon believes the Trump banner is fading quickly.
YES, WE CAN AND WILL DO BETTER!!!
On the eve of election day I cycled to Greensburg, PA and the Westmoreland County Democratic Headquarters. There I met an energized group of volunteers, including J.J. and Adi, who are canvassing and arranging rides to the polls. At a private home nearby phonebanking was in full swing! J.J. and Adi canvass together, also reaching out to voters whose sense of Second Amendment rights seems unreasonable to me. Take a look at the image below. We must strive to continue the discussion about reasonable gun legislation. Go progressives!
The Final Weekend culminated for me with the New Hope Baptist Church service in Braddock, PA. The congregation, led by Senior Pastor Dr. John Robinson, is a living community of compassion like no other I have experienced. All greeted me warmly. The two-and-a-half-hour service was a slow crescendo of emotion and contemplation about life in community that began with encouragement to vote. One of the many highlights was the moving performance of Blessed and Chosen Mime Ministry members. I urge all who visit Braddock to stop at New Hope and join its progressive fellowship!
The Final Weekend began for me at the Bakery Square PA Democratic Office between East Liberty, Shadyside, and Squirrel Hill. The office was abuzz with phonebanking and canvassing activity. My phonebanking partners included Nancy Rosenthal--a former Tree of Life Congregation member. She and her husband Bob have committed themselves to GOTV work as a way of dealing with what has happened in their/our community. It was an honor to work with her! Zachary Quinto led a group of 25 young canvassers into the field with rousing comments. The day ended with our Final Countdown rally at the nearby Urban Tap where I had an opportunity to talk with many of the customers. One female staff member cycled over 4,000 miles this summer with the Bike and Build program. I nominate her and it for honorary Bikeathon status! She took the image of Cassandra Masters and her NGO cohort who give us all hope for the future we believe in!
The Three River Heritage Trail offered some excellent "Cycle for Sanity" experiences today: Susan (NYC) and Craig (Virginia) joined me (Illinois) for an interstate "we're-voting" selfie. Patrick and I posed for a "we-voted-in-every-election-since-we were-18" photo at Max's Tavern. Finally, Craig and I celebrated the Bikeathon reaching its destination at his "you-gotta-see-this" Bicycle Heaven. Yes, the Bikeathon has its own destiny. The goal has always been for at least as many people to vote on Tuesday as Craig has bikes in his collection. By the way, Craig has many, many more bikes than depicted here. Take a look (http://andyjohanson.com/2/tour.html) and--GET OUT THE VOTE!
Having spent almost two weeks in Ohio, covering over 200 miles from Toledo to Youngstown, the Bikeathon bids a fond farewell to all of its new Buckeye friends. You have an amazing state with a rich cultural fabric worth the hard work necessary to nurture it. We support Ohio's progressives as they strive for their/our future to believe in!
Now it is on to Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh where the Tree of Life shootings make so painfully clear the necessity to overcome the hatred plaguing the United States today. With that in mind, I encourage support for the UGP Steel City t-shirt initiative.
When entering Pennsylvania, I also learned about the Shell Ethane Cracker Plant being built near Manaca, PA. The consruction site begs for attention to the consequences of the plant for the region. The NPR StateImpact source offers substantial information. Take a look!
A rainy day sealed the deal. I spent the late morning and early afternoon phonebanking at the Mahoning County Democratic Headquarters in Youngstown. As usual, I was somewhat nervous about calling people I don't know. On my way to the Headquarters I saw a display of front-yard campaign signs more than impressive enough to get me in the mood. So, too, did volunteer leader, Jordan, and the other volunteers who greeted me with open arms! As I worked my way through five pages of potential volunteers, I had an unforgettable conversation with Ms. Repasky. She assured me all 27 members of her family were voting for the Democratic slate, including some of the "kids" who had voted for Trump to give him a chance! According to Ms. Repasky, now the kids have decided to follow their moral compasses. They reject the current President and Republican Party candidates who unwaveringly support him. How about a little phonebanking or canvassing on the final weekend? Here's what Bernie has to say:
Today I returned to the Bikeathon course for what may have been the last sunny day for awhile. What a wonderful weather window of opporunity it was! After a short ride along the Portage Hike and Bike Trail, the city of Kent and Kent State University opened before me. While orienting myself with the assistance of a large kiosk campus map, I heard someone call my name. It was Charlie Malone, whom I had met in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park four days earlier! Charlie had spotted me from his office window. Wow! He and Carrie George (who had taken pictures of us all in the Park) offered me a tour of their impressive Wick Poetry Center.
They also strengthened my resolve to spend the rest of the afternoon on the campus. Perhaps you know why. Recently, I had realized the Bikeathon course would lead me to the site of the Kent State shootings on May 4 1970. What I did not know was the extent to which the the campus core is a living commemoration of that tragedy with its own May 4 Visitors Center. I was even more surprised to learn about REV from the Center's Assistant Director, Lori Boes. Register. Education. Vote. is a Kent State initiative the Center supports. According to Lori, when the Center first opened in 2012 few student visitors raised their hands when asked who was registered to vote. Now few do not raise their hands! It seems to me all students are encouraged to discover the connection between patriotism and protest. Below is an image collage of my Kent State afternoon. It reminds me what Crosby, Stills , Nash, and Young meant when they sang "Find the cost of freedom buried in the ground."
After spending the morning on the Freedom Trail east of Akron, I continued on to Youngstown where an all-star lineup of Democratic candidates rallied with students and others at Youngtown State University. Joe Biden was the keynote speaker. His soft-spoken plea for civility, fairness, and solidarity rose to a full-throated endorsement for Richard Cordray, Betty Sutton, and other state candidates. Like Bernie Sanders, Joe is working hard to mobilize millennial voters. With that in mind, I nominate both for honorary Bikeathon status!
Among Cleveland's cultural treasures is the Cleveland Art Museum. My hosts, Christina and Jon Skovsgaard, kindly agreed to take me to the museum for an enjoyable afternoon with some surprises. It will come as no surprise that many of the visitors welcomed information about the Bikeathon and its aspirations for the Midterms. Somewhat surprising to me was the number of visitors who have voted--including some from other states, including one from far away Washington State. Perhaps most surprising was my encounter with a Security Guard in a dark suit who identified himself as working for the CIA! Well, it's not that CIA. CIA also is the acronym for the Cleveland Institute of Arts. This CIA "Agent" teaches drawing and, while he strives to interest his students in voting, he is not certain how many will do so in November. Hmmmm. We have one week to mobilize the millennials and all eligible voters. Let's keep our collective nose to the grindstone to save face! (mixed metaphor intended).
The painting below captures a compendium of my MMPBIKE impressions. From my perspective it looks as though verdant plains will survive the gathering storm and reign supreme. The outcome is up to us, as we stay our progressive course!
During my week in Cleveland, my host, Christina Skovsgaard, has moved me to work harder. Christina gets up early to assist Democrats Abroad in Norway, ensuring they are registered and receiving their ballots. She also phonebanks for Congressional candidate Betsy Rader. Betsy is waging an uphill battle in Ohio's 14th Congressional District. Why? Think GERRYMANDERED! (By the way, Ohio's voters have passed innovative legislation to reform their system for estblishing district boundaries.)
Christina and I also have attended volunteer events at the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus and the Cuyahoga County Democratic Headquarters. A sobering highlight of our week together was attending the National Day of Opposition to Police Brutality with far too many mothers mourning the unnecessary deaths of their children. We applaud them and all who demand reasonable gun legislation and rules of engagement for peace officers. Their work inspires our work!
Today I began enacting plan B for the last Bikeathon segment from Cleveland to Pittsburgh. Given the lack of a support vehicle driver, I am making virture out of necessity. My cycling began at 9.00 AM and took me over 75 miles to Akron and back. For most of the day, I was in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, where, among other things, I met a group of Kent State students who were working with a Park Ranger and instructor to develop tours for elementary school children. They were as interested in my project as I was in theirs. The instructor, Charlie Malone, even offered me housing. That's what I call a progressive bonding experience!
The Summit County Democratic Headquarters was the destination for the day. There Chairman Tom Bevin and Deputy Executive Director Felita Grice greeted me warmly. Tom offered valuable insights about state- and county-level activities, while Felita managed the lively stream of people picking up signs, signing up to volunteer, and helping with early voting. Next door at the County Board of Elections, the early voting traffic was very brisk. That put me in a good mood to cycle back to Cleveland and to keep working with the Midterms looming on the horizon.
The ongoing rejuvenation of some Midwestern cities we have visited is truly impressive! Cleveland is an excellent example. There Mayor Frank Jackson is serving his fourth term, asserting his committment to building equity and opportunity for all Clevelanders in all neighborhoods. It is an admirable goal, which is easier to articulate than to achieve. Along the way there are many obstacles, not the least of which is the temptation to show favoritism and to lose sight of what is necessary to ensure the maximum benefit for the greatest number of citizens. Take a look at the city's current initiatives here. And take a look at some of what I have seen below, beginning with new housing in the Tremont neighborhood and including downtown images with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I join all Clevelanders in wishing that soon many other neighborhoods will thrive as are these. When you have seen my images, imagine they only scratch the surface of a vibrant urban center with cultural jewels one can reach easily with rapid transit, light rail, and bus rapid transit system-- and an excellent network of bicycle trails!
The Midwest has offered my bicycle and me many great "On the Road" homes. Christina and Jon Skovsgaard have provided another in Downtown Cleveland overlooking Lake Erie! Today I am enjoying my work station with a great view to the west of what I imagine is everywhere we have been since the middle of September.
My bicycle also likes its new resting place. If you look closely, you will notice there is a ship in the background, reminding us that it is now all hands on deck! If we all work overtime now, we just might be able to rest assured that our civility, democracy, lives, planet, and sanity have a good chance for that bright future we so long for!
Fellow Bikeathoner, Rob Bouman, just sent evidence that our efforts are bearing fruit. Take a look and congratulations Rob!
The Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus is the center of our activity in Cleveland. Its roots can be traced to the summer of 2015 when Senator Sanders began his movement. As the energy of his campaign grew, it became clear that momentum forward would continue far beyond the 2016 presidential election. Built on the progressive agenda and values of this movement, Northeast Ohio for Bernie Sanders began its transition in the summer of 2016 to the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus. It now is a living model for our enduring revolution!
Pictured here from left to right are Christina Skovsgaard (Democrats Abroad Norway), two CCPC digital specialists, Bruce Murray, and Steve Holecko (CCPC Political Director). CPCC activist Diane Morgan took the picture. In the room behind us phonebanking campaigns for the Ohio Democratic Party, individual candidates, and specific issues were in full swing. Christina and I joined the ranks and will continue our CCPC work all week!
Cleveland is buzzing with political activity just two weeks before the Midterm elections. Today we joined the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, marching downtown with many whose loved ones and friends have been killed unnecessarily by police officers. Their expressions of pain and commitment to social justice are marching orders for all of us to support initiatives like California Assembly Bill 931. Its purpose is to reform criminal procedure to ensure proper rules of engagement for peace officers. "What do we want? JUSTICE! When do we want it? NOW!
Today we arrived in Cleveland, where our final countdown begins! The Bikeathon has been on the road now for six weeks and covered over 650 miles--with just two weeks, 200 miles, and two houses of Congress to go! Our new hosts, fellow Democrats Abroad from Norway/Cleveland, showed us historical neighborhoods (Ohio City and Tremont--site of the church featured in The Deer Hunter and in the image below) where urban renewal is evident! The Cleveland rally has been moved to the tail end of our stay here so that we can take some time to connect with Clevelanders first. Look for signs of our connections with progressives here in the coming days. While waiting, we invite you to be inspired by our final countdown theme song, as we all move into high gear for getting out the vote!
The course from Norwalk to Elyria led us straight through Oberlin on a beautiful Saturday morning. The favorable tailwinds landed us on the campus just in time to participate in the weekly demonstration for peace and social justice. These demonstrations have occurred every Saturday at noon since the Iraq War began! We recommend that you join the group whenever you are in Oberlin!!
Before arriving in Oberlin, I met Laura Dahle--a somewhat eccentric and very engaging artist whose work adorns her front yard. She reminded me what Paul McCartney had in mind with his Blackbird song: "I had in mind a black woman, rather than a bird. Those were the days of the civil rights movement, which all of us cared passionately about, so this was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: 'Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith, there is hope.'
VOODOO? Or is it TRUMPKINOMICS? On the road in Ohio the harbingers of Halloween are unmistakable. When I saw the field below, it also reminded me how we have run into an extended patch of what one might call TRUMPKINOMICS: Its short-term benefits for the few pale in comparison to the dire long-term consequences for the many. While the two victims I encountered on a bench in Norwalk seemed to have given up the ghost, they did take Bikeathon cards and listened intently to my plea to vote for progressive candidates in November. Further down the road, I spotted a third victim who continues to be dogged by the current President's economic whims. In this case, the woman heeded my call to action and seemed to revive before my very eyes. As the clock ticks down, it is high time for all of us to move into high gear with our GET OUT THE VOTE EFFORTS!
Before cycling to Norwalk, we visited the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums. In the aftermath of the Civil War, Hayes fought hard for the civil rights of all in the United States, especially African Americans. Currently, the museum features a display of milestones in the fight to ensure the right to vote for U.S. citizens. It reminds us that four of the fifteen post-Civil War constitutional amendments were ratified to extend voting rights to different groups of citizens. These extensions state that voting rights cannot be denied or abridged based on the following:
It has been some time since our course included a dedicated bicycle trail. That changed today, when the North Coast Inland Trail was our “main course.” Yippee! It provided some wonderful cycling on our way to Fremont. On the Trail in Lindsey I met Jerry Willer (93) and his son in front of a house where the Halloween display could not be ignored. This one included a skull with shifty eyes proclaiming: "I see you!" After introducing ourselves, Jerry invited me to his home where he offered me a copy of his almost 800-page book on the Willer family (From Pomerania to Sandusky County and Beyond). Jerry and his son have become our newest Honorary Bikeathoners.
Jerry served as a marine in the Pacific during WWII, has led an extremely productive life, and still shares the daily newspaper with his son to keep informed so that he can make good decisions about local, state, and federal policies. In his retirement Jerry has painted, volunteered for the local Tree Commission, and authored two books about his family's and his own life. The Willers, like most of us, are immigrants who have contributed to what is good about our diverse culture. It seems to me to be our responsibility to nurture that goodness, as we prepare to vote before or on the 6th of November for those who believe we can do better!
On the road to Monroe, I experienced the stiffest headwinds of the entire Bikeathon to date and wondered if they could have been related to our discussion with the Quality Inn receptionist in Detroit and what I saw on the road. When I arrived in Monroe, the winds seemed to shift. Wouldn't you know it! The staff at the Quality Inn in Monroe was very enthusiastic about our progressibe project and drew our attention to the dining area where the weekly guest appreciation dinner awaited us. Some of the strongest tailwinds took me to Toledo the next day. After over two weeks in Michigan, including a brief layover in Fort Wayne, IN, it was time to say good bye to Michigan and hello to Ohio. We will never forget the many wonderful experiences Michigan offered and wish our friends there all the best for the Midterms and beyond! The image below of a building fresco in Chicago, depicting the essence of Michigan, says it all for us.
On the state line, this sign greets all who enter Ohio. We had a great time in Michigan and are very happy with what Toledo promises!
Before leaving Detroit, we had a brief civil discussion with our Quality Inn receptionist. He supports the current U.S. President, citing immigration restrictions, military strength, and trade tariffs as important policy issues. We listened politely, did not interrupt, and thanked him for his comments. If we had taken more time, we believe it would have been important to ask questions about his support for each issue, looking for an opportunity to join him in considering additional perspectives that might have moved us closer to consensus on one or the other. Although we might have failed, that method seems to offer a better chance of success than the indignant approach so tempting to most of us. What do you think?
The day's cycling course led me along the Detroit River toward Lake Erie and Monroe. The landscape was a mix of harbor, industrial plants, warehouses, and residential neighborhoods, with plenty of truck traffic and even some nature preserves--like the Humbug Marsh. It included ample evidence of declining steel industry employment from over 500,000 in the 1970s to under 100,000 today. The juxtaposition of the humongous decaying Trenton Plant (the image depicts roughly 25%) and the much smaller Huron Valley Steel Corporation just down the road is dramatic.
How has the U.S.economy managed the transistion? Some assert: considerable benefits for the few and major headaches for the many. Cycling through the area neighborhoods, where lower income housing prevails, suggests the benefit imbalance. The change to more automated production seems inevitable. How can the benefits be shared more equitably? That is the question for which progressive candidates have the best answers!
We spent our Monday painting baseboard and tidying up in CCSS "Tiny Homes" which soon will belong to low-income people who have never owned their own. It felt great to work with Stephanie (supervisor) and Jason (solar panel electrician), knowing that dedicated progressives will be there for the long haul, as ground is being broken to add to the current more than a dozen tiny homes in a neighborhood in transition! Our volunteering also has afforded us great opportunities to encourage inner city residents to vote in November! Please do your best in the final weeks before the Midterm elections to encourage ALL in your network to VOTE for candidates who support projects like these!
Our Sunday morning at the Cass Community United Methodist Church was inspiring. The congregation extends "a warm welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor and knuckleheads." Paul and I mused that we likely fit the knucklehead profile. We felt welcome to sit back, sing along, talk about our joys and concerns, and to linger after the service to speak with parishoners about the Bikeathon.
Deacon Sue Pethoud and the Reverend Faith Fowler (pictured here below me and to my left) assisted in connecting us with Cass Community Social Services (CCSS) projects on Sunday and Monday! Our first stop was the CCSS Kitchen where 70,000 meals are served each year. All of us depicted below invested some major elbow grease to clean, clean, clean in preparation for the next meal. We were engaged in the kind of progressive work that turns givers into receivers and receivers into givers. What a great feeling!
What a day of activity! The Bikeathoners departed Indiana for the last time, happy to have made so many new friends in Hammond, Gary, Michigan City, South Bend, and Fort Wayne! We will miss you, Hoosiers. And we wish you the best for the Midterm elections!
After a healthy brunch at Zingerman's Road House, it was back to the course with a great autumn day of cycling from Ann Arbor via the Ann Arbor Trail to Plymouth and to Detroit, where the wonderful bike lanes surprised the heck out of me! So, too, did the urban renewal along Michigan Avenue, leading straight to the city center. It was great fun to watch the skyline loom larger and larger, as I looked left and right to see renovated and new homes, store fronts, and other attractions. In the meantime, we have learned that Democratic Mayor Mike Duggan and activists like those of the Cass Corridor Community have played a major role in the turn around. Stay tuned for more on this story in my next entry!
Why those gloves? It was cool at noon in Ann Arbor. In the early afternoon fall warmth dominated, also in Plymouth where I encouraged these ladies and gents to join me. My success was extremely modest:)
Why check the time before addressing the Bikeathon followers? Had it really taken me this long to visit Detroit? Yes it had. It was about time!
The last day in Fort Wayne was a day to prepare for the road. Paul Englund traveled via Amtrak from St. Paul to Chicago, then on to Waterloo, the best little old train station I have ever seen. After planning the cycling to Detroit and meetings with the very progressive Cass Community United Methodist Church leaders, and having dinner with my tolerant inlaws at Henry's, I met Paul whose Capitol Limited was right on time. Back in Fort Wayne, we hit the hay to be rested for the long day to come.
Before closing this chapter, allow me to review the progress my mother in law and I made on the questions raised in the 10 October entry below.
For the past three days, I have been phonebanking for Democratic candidates in Fort Wayne. Yesterday and today I was at the Allen County Democratic Headquarters where eager volunteers were working the phones. With ever more regularity we reached voters committed to supporting Joe Donnelly, Courtney Tritch, and others. The mood was good!
As dusk descended, I convinced some of the hardworking crew to join me for a quick outdoor photo. Pictured from left to right are Bruce, Gage, Meredith, and Brad (whose daughter studied at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna). Fallon served as photographer. Field Director Matthew, who campaigned for Bernie in North Carolina in 2016, remained indoors to assist the volunteers.
At each campaign headquarters I have visited (Hammond, South Bend, and Fort Wayne, IN), the energetic young staff members from all over the U.S. have convinced me of the next generation's potential to lead. We will be in good hands!
10 October--A Meeting of the Minds?
When in "Fort Fun," my mother in law and I routinely talk about issues, sharing information we receive from various sources, including Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, New York Times, NPR, etc. As one might expect, our sources often give us conflicting perspectives. When that happens, we routinely agree to consult more sources in quest of consensus. Here are three questions we are considering now:
By the way, my mother in law and I constitute the vortex of the family photo further below. You must admit, we are a handsome couple!
Last evening was capped by a wonderful dinner with my inlaws in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have dipped into Northeastern Indiana to recharge my batteries, literally and figuratively, before beginning the Bikeathon's final countdown. Among those at the dinner were Jacob and Maddie, two Ball State students who completed their voter registration before time ran out on the 9th! (Look for Maddie in the Ball State shirt on the right with Jacob behind her.) For me their resolve was a great gift that earned them special status in the ranks of our honorary Bikeathoners. Way to go Jacob and Maddie!
Another purpose of my stay in the Fort is to volunteer for Courtney Tritch, Congressional candidate in Indiana's 3rd District. I marched with Courtney in the Angola, IN 4th of July parade and promised to come back to campaign for her in the fall.
Promise kept! It was a delight to join 15 volunteers who phonebanked in what had been a bank. How often do political campaigns take control of banks? The venue motivated one volunteer to consider the positive benefit to our economy, had the current administration opted to erase student loan debt, instead of giving major corporations a trillion dollar tax cut. Now that is progressive food for thought!
We reached the cycling halfway point on the road from Jackson to Ann Arbor--in other words, somewhere between mile 419 and 456 of 855. When I saw a sign in support of Terri McKinnon, the very impressive Michigan District 65 House of Representatives candidate with whom we had met the previous day, I considered it to mark the halfway point in our progress toward the finish line on 6 November when I expect her candidacy will be successful! When reviewing the picture below, I noticed the 6451 address on the mailbox. Sixth of November? 451 miles? Who knows? What I do know is that we are making progress and must remain focused on our work to succeed on election day. Go Bikeathoners wherever you are!
The highlight of our journey to Jackson (the longest cycling day of the entire Bikeathon) was our gathering with Michigan House of Representatives District 65 candidate, Terri McKinnon, her campaign staff, and volunteers at the 318 Brass Rail. Terri and Tom met me on the beautiful Falling Waters Trail so that Tom could guide me into town.
At the Brass Rail we discussed effective methods for progressive solutions to issues, ranging from healthcare to education, and well-paying jobs. Then the discussion turned to women's issues and sexual assault. While the troubling SCOTUS nomination process has ended, it is clear that the blight of sexual assault requires much more attention.
Two campaign volunteers (sisters) described how the overwhelming majority of women in their family had been victims of sexual assault. In one case the victim was only 12 years old when the incident occurred. The perpetrator was an uncle who later assaulted a 12-year-old neighbor girl and was sentenced to nine years in prison. We agreed that our policymakers must do more to nurture a culture where such behavior is not tolerated! We also agreed Terri will contribute powerfully to the process,
Today's afternoon weather reminded me of much other pleasant Bikeathon weather. On the road to Battle Creek, I saw wild turkies, deer, and the wooly-bear caterpillar below. They, too, were enjoying the weather! I have seen many wooly-bear caterpillars along the way and believe they, like so many natural phenomena, can tell us something important. Political analysts claim the group of U.S. independent voters in the middle may outnumber Democrats on the left and Republicans on the right. What the wooly-bear caterpillar (with its black ends and rusty mid section) aptly demonstrates is how its parts work effectively to reach their goal united. This one had just made its way across the entire bicycle trail unscathed and elated as it entered the grass. Hmmmmm.
5 October--Taking a Break in Kalamazoo!
For some time now, I had envisioned taking a break in Kalamazoo. What I had not envisioned was the gruelling ride from Dowagiac in what was the coldest, windiest, and rainiest day of the Bikeathon so far. I hope no future days can match it. Imagine turning onto a dirt road and into a biting northerly wind filled with rain. Now imagine how soft the road became as its sogginess increased. Now imagine turning onto similar dirt roads repeatedly before finally reaching Kalamazoo. Yikes! As you see, there are no photos to document the ride. Perhaps I should have taken a shot of my bike, before one of my new hosts, Chris Beaver, hosed it down for me!
At any rate, I was able to reach the Kalamazoo train sation 15 minutes before my good friend Rory Sullivan departed the team to return to his poetry and playwriting in Chicago. Thanks to Rory for his contribution as host in Chicago and support-vehicle driver from Chicago to Kalamazoo! All aboard!
I will not soon forget the warm shower and dry clothes that awaited me at the home of Linda and Chris Beaver, parents of David Beaver, who is the next support-vehicle driver. They, David, and David's friend, Chris, joined ProKzoo board member Erin Bissonnette a delegation of six University of Illinois students, our server Chris, and me in the lively atmosphere of Bell's Brewery Loft on Friday evening. Perhaps more would have attended, had there not been the need for yet another early evening demonstration. (You likely know the purpose.)
I especially enjoyed comparing notes with ProKzoo board member, Erin Bissonnette, who explained how their informal structure has enabled them to grow their ranks to over 2,500 members. 200 to 300 participate in regular meetings, consisting of political action, presentations on pressing progressive issues, and work in break-out groups. They also partner strategically with other groups to maximize effectiveness on specific issues. Best of luck to ProKzoo, as it supports Midterm candidates and continues with its progresssive work in 2019 and beyond!
After a wonderful dinner and evening of discussion, followed by brisk morning activities with our bedrock Democratic hosts, Jim and Penny Hughes, Katie prepared to depart for Arizona where she is caring for her mother. Rory and I headed for Dowagiac, in other words, having made many new Hoosier friends, we were leaving Indiana (temporarily) for Michigan! We will miss activists like Penny, who is an award-winning member of the Human Rights Commission.
Along the way, two new honorary Bikeathoners joined our ranks. Barry and Cathi, a trucker couple in a league of their own, travel with bikes so that wherever they may be, from the Puget Sound to Nova Scotia, they stay mentally and physically fit. Barry passionately believes in the civic responsbility to strengthen our democracy in honor of all who have fought and even died to protect it. Cathi is equally committed to overcoming the unparalleled divisiveness that plagues U.S. policymaking today. By the time we reached Niles, Barry, Cathi, and I had discovered our shared Bikeathoner patriotism. We are dedicated to change we can really believe in!
The Dr. Kora family, Vidya, Sudha, and Anith, were our gracious hosts from the evening of the 2nd to the morning of the 3rd.
Dr. Kora and his colleagues have initiated a billboard campaign in La Porte County that is gaining much attention among those who realize the importance of good healthcare. Take a look! If you like the first one, how about this one? And this one?
The highlight of the day was our visit at the St. Joe Democratic Headquarters in South Bend. After speaking with the hardworking young staff (Matthew, Austin, Enid, and Michaael, Mayor Pete dropped by to talk about how best to support Democratic candidates during the final countdown to the Midterms. He plans to campaign for Illinois Congressional candidates Lauren Underwood and Sean Casten in the coming days. Katie and I ended the day by canvassing in Mishawaka.
Today we toured the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Park and learned about the Grand Compromise of 1965. Over the last fifty years the effort to check unsustainable economic development in favor of socio-ecological models has continued. Indiana leaders like State Senator Karen Tallian are working hard to ensure that economic and ecological endeavors serve the interests of all on the south shore of Lake Michigan. (By the way, A-1 Rick was our Bikeathon Dunes National Lakeshore guardian angel. After seeing us pouring over our map in Hammond, he guided us to our evening destination, upgraded our bicycle security with better lighting the next morning, taught me how to fix a flat tire, and only left us when we met another cyclist he could help. Thanks Rick!)
While the socio-ecological solution is a tall order, we saw tangible progress! What do you think?
1 October 2018--Farewell to Illinois and Hello Indiana!
Early on Monday morning we joined a group of Kibitzers who helped to "ride us out of town." They were led by the intrepid Jerry Rudnick who is working on a bikeathon sequel with us in 2020!
We were on a mission to attend the opening of the new Democratic Party Office in Hammond with DNC Chair Tom Perez at lunchtime. Mission accomplished! --Tom Perez delivered a rousing speech, firing us up for the final month of our work. WE ARE FIRED UP!!!
We ended the day with dinner at the home of State Senator Karen Tallian. What a host! State Democratic Chair, John Zody, who has helped us connect with hardworking Hoosier Democrats all over Northwestern Indiana also attended what was a memorable evening of lively discussion with local residents.
29 and 30 September 2018--Final weekend in Chicago
Our last two days in Chicago were "eventful." On Saturday we started packing and spent the evening with the Hubbard Street Dancers at the Harris Theater.
On Sunday we visited the Art Institute for the last day of the John Singer Sargent exhibition. There I met Melvin Ford who serves as election judge in Hyde Park. Melvin applauded our Bikeathon endeavor. I applaud Melvin!
In the evening we joined a very lively group of volunteers, phonebanking and writing postacrds for Betsy Dirkson Londrigan who is working to unseat the incumbent in the 13th Congressional District in Illinois. What an operation!
28 September 2018--Now it's your turn!
Today I took the plunge and acquired some spiffy bicycler shorts. My behind will be eternally grateful--I hope. In the afternoon the final details for our Windy City Send-Off, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Park Tour, Get Out The Vote Event with Mayor Pete in South Bend, and Take a Break in Kalamazoo began to fall into place--not a minute too soon! I am excited about the prospects for Bikeathon activities in the first week of October. the final month before the Midterm Elections. Danny and I prepared our absentee ballots and mailed them. Now it's your turn, ok?
In the evening, Danny played his last Bikeathon concert at the Elbo Room on North Lincoln Ave. The audience was a solid mix of young and old, friends, family, and nieghborhood people, progressives and those who are thinking about it. We consider them all honorary Bikeathoners!
27 September 2018--What we share . . . .
When Danny serenaded the NextGen toddler yesterday, we were preparing to meet one of Danny's high school friends, Randy, and his wife Sue, Boitz. This morning I reviewed our conversation. Randy voted for Donald Trump in 2016, so we have nothing in common, right? Wrong! One of our best Bikeathon experiences is speaking with those who voted for the current president and realizing just how much we do have in common. Randy wants less divisive talk about red and blue, and more shared effort to solve the problems we face. We agree! Randy wants less government waste and corruption. So do we. And, Randy wishes the President would talk less. Amen! At the end of our conversation we shook hands in celebration of our shared civic responsibility. Randy, we wish all of us well!
In the afternoon, Danny went to Lake Michigan to rehearse for his Elbo Room concert on Friday night. There he met Red, a homeless man who has been camping near the Lake for the past year with his woman friend. So Danny and Red have nothing in common, right? Guess again! Both love the blues. Both wish dearly that Red did not feel compelled to abandon his home on the south side for the relative security of street life on the north side. And both wear their sun glasses and smiles with a shared joy of humanity that can not be shaken!
26 September 2018--Kibitzing on Sukkot?
Today we joined members of the Kibitzer bicycle club, led by the intrepid Jerry Rudnick who also is an avid volunteer for progressive candidates. Jerry led us along the North Branch Trail to Skokie where we had breakfast at Emma's Bagel Cafe. There we learned about the ongoing Sukkot harvest celebration--which put me in the mood to harvest positive change for all of us on the 6th of November! Depicted here from left to right are Al, Katie, Argenis, Steve, Bruce, and Jerry. Go Kibitzers!
Later in the day, Dan spontaneously seranaded a NextGen musician and voter on the sidewalk. Dan, you have a big heart. You 'da man!
25 September 2018--Training and Recruiting on the Road!
Chicago is a big city, right? Steve Heller showed Katie and me portions of the Lakefront Trail, also in preparation for our Windy City Send-Off next Monday. We had breakfast at Nookies on Wells Street where the staff was so eager to support us, they transformed their police/army discount into a Bikeathon discount! As always, we had our Democrats Abroad and Democrats Abroad Austria banners ready for display. This photo was taken by a passerby who has spent time abroad and was very willing to help us out!
24 September 2018--Planning ahead!
Monday was a working day for our MMPBIKE team in transition. Former Democrats Abroad Chair, Katie Solon, MMPBIKE Co-organizer, Dan LoCascio, and I spent an afternoon discussing our division of labor, with the following goals:
23 September 2018--The Day After? --The First New Day!
Bouyed by the energy and insights provided by our new Chicago friends, we set out ready to act on Sunday morning. First stop? In Logan Square the young and progressive 35th Ward Alderman, Carlos Rosa, spoke to his constituents, including members of Working Families United, about his efforts to ensure neighborhood development for the many, not just the few. Alderman Rosa is a leader among the hundreds of thousands tireless supporters of our enduring revolution!
later, we joined volunteers (Iris, Jerry, Steve, and Bill) for 13th Illinois Congressional Candidate Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, phonebanking and writing postcards. While working, a member of the campaign called, inviting me to attend canvassing parties in Champaign next weekend. Just let me know, if you are interested in participating. This is one of the seats that could add up to the 24 needed for meaningful change in the House of Representatives!
22 September 2018--Let the celebration begin!
Chicago's Wishbone Cafe North was the destination for our second major rally. As was the case at our "Capital Kickoff" in Madison, progressive activists, candidates, and voters filled our ranks for an evening of moving messages, live music, and lively discussion. Our Revolution Illinois representative, Julie Reschke, Cook County Commissioner candidate Abdelnasser Rashid, and former Democrats Abroad International Chair, Katie Solon spoke passionately about progressive political action on the local, state, national, and international levels. Special guests included Illinois Democratic Party State Central Committee member, Peter Janko and 39th Ward Alderman, Robert Murphy. Activists fighting in favor of Medicare for all, voting rights protection, neighborhood development for the many, not just the few, as well as opponents of the current Supreme Court nominee also spoke. Options for cooperation fed the discussion long after the official program ended. Real change occurs from the bottom up!
21 September 2018
The wonderful dinner Rob served us after our long ride from Sycamore to Glen Ellyn was just what we needed to prepare us to cycle into Chi-Town. We spent much of the next morning on the Prairie Path, wondering how it was possible to pedal through woodlands and tree-lined residential areas in what is one of the more densely-populated U.S. urban centers. It is possible! We reached our destination on the border between Oak Park and Chicago's Austin Area in plenty of time to explore both the neighborhood where Danny Chicago came of age politically in 1960s and where my progressive leanings developed further in the late 1980s, before bidding farewell to our fellow German Bikeathoner, Alex, who had spent the entire week with us, representing our transatlantic partners. While he flew on to the East Coast, we settled into our Chicago headquarters on North Paulina. We were eager to make final preparation for our Fighting Illini Rally on Saturday night!
20 September 2018
For those keeping track, and we definitely are, the ride from Sycamore to Glen Ellyn was one of the longest--42 miles. Given the heat and humidity, we were very happy to ride beneath a canopy of mature trees where squirrels, toads, and occasional cyclers roamed free in the morning! During lunch at Smitty's in St. Charles, Patrick and Ethan regaled us with stories about their congressional candidates Lauren Underwood and Sean Casten. Each represents a portion of St. Charles--indicative of gerrymandering in Northern Illinois. I wonder if the district borders run through Smitty's . . . . Even more heat and humidity awaited us after lunch. Our brief visit at the impressive Northern Illinois Food Bank, where Rob Bouman volunteers weekly, was even more welcome as a break from the heat! The work Rob and countless other volunteers undertake at the facility is yet more evidence that progressives are alive and kicking in Chicagoland!
19 September 2018--Part two
Rose and Rob Bouman joined us in Sycamore so that Rob could guide us along the Great Western and Prairie Path trails via St. Charles to their home in Glen Ellyn, then on to Chicago. We also had surprise guests! Recently-elected progressive member of the Illinois Democratic Party State Central Committee, Peter Janko, and Dekalb County Clerk candidate Carolyn Morris led our enlightening discussion of Illinois, Dekalb County, and Chicago politics. Suffice it to say: we learned much about the costs of establishment politics and the growing number of candidates who are succeeding with real change from the bottom up! During the evening, we "progressed" on Sycamore's Main Street from dinner at the Pub 64 to live entertainment at PJ's Courthouse Tavern where our Danny Chicago played his third of four concerts in just one week!
September 19, 2018--Part one
On the road from Rockford to Sycamore took us over the 100-mile mark. When we arrive in Gary, IN we will break the 200-mile mark. Rollin, rollin, rollin, keep them doggies rollin!
That was how we felt when we left the residential area of greater Rockford and headed down Cherry Valley Road. We saw soybeans, corn, and little else. Even the occasional roads did not always have signs. As a result, we started looking for someone to assure us we were going the right way and met Mr. Marshall T. Hall, Founder & CEO of the United African American Foundation. His motto? Lend a hand to help others. He lent a helping hand to us, tightening Alex's handle bars, giving us the allen wrench, and then even directions to get on the right track. His motto is our motto!
September 18, 2018
Beloit to Rockford, IL --Rain before 7:00, sun before 11:00? On this day the rain was persistant. So was I. The result was a semi-soaked Bruce by the time I had left Beloit. Then it did stop raining. I maneuvered the ins and outs of the Rock River Recreational Trail. A homeless man helped me find my way out of the labyrinthine and somewhat flooded Sports Core north of Rockford. To make a long story short, I met Dan and Alex at our appointed meeting place, the Nichols Conservatory, relatively on time and no longer wet (at least not completely). We spent the evening with Dan's brother and his in laws. Although we may occupy different points on the political spectrum, we easily succeeded in a civil discussion of current issues--mixed with stories of youthful indiscretions. Yes, a fun time was had by all!
September 17, 2018
September 16, 2018
September 15, 2018
September 14, 2018
We begin with thanks to all who hosted our visit in Madison. Among the many, we thank Aili and Warren Tripp who accommodated us in more ways than one. Their son, Lloyd also aided us as executive assistant, even ensuring that we found our way to our first cycling destination in Cooksville!