This fall, Field Program Director Elliott Powell took to the winding roads of northern New England for an important cause. Five days and nearly 400 miles later, here’s what he learned. Want to join Elliott on a future Climate Ride? Send us an email!
A few weeks after representing Sustainable Harvest International in our organization’s first ever Climate Ride Northeast event, I am still absorbing this meaningful experience. While the individual miles and steep hills have blurred in my mind, the personal and global impact of the event is beginning to take shape.
First, a bit about Climate Ride, in case you missed our clamoring about it before now!
Climate Ride is an organization that recently sponsored a fully supported charity bicycle ride from Bar Harbor, Maine to Boston, Massachusetts over the course of five days. All funds raised by participants (myself included!) are distributed to a variety of nonprofit organizations that work to fight climate change and promote alternative transportation, and Sustainable Harvest International is one of those beneficiary organizations!
When I first signed up for the event, I was accustomed to riding my bike an hour to work each day. The idea of riding all day, every day, was both exciting and daunting. I wasn’t sure what to expect. How would I perform day after day with high amounts of mileage to cover? Was my training enough? Would my bike hold up? What about the other riders? Would they ride circles around me in spiffy spandex, without a bead of sweat on their brows?
390 miles later, I am happy to report there was nothing to fret over. Soon after leaving Bar Harbor’s early morning fog the first day, we became a formidable pack of two-wheelers, united by our literal and figurative end-goals. Nearly all of the other participants represented nonprofit organizations, either as employees, like me, or as advocates, board members, friends or other supporters. Because of our shared interests and values, it was easy to find common ground as we rode along.
Now that we’ve completed the ride and returned back to our regularly scheduled lives, I am proud of our accomplished physical feat. I’m proud of the numerous organizations we represented, and of the funds we raised in excess of $175,000 to support addressing climate change.
Experiencing the natural and cultural beauty of New England by bicycle was a huge aspect of Climate Ride. Participants reaped the benefits of riding our bikes all day across a beautiful landscape, but that wasn’t the only perk. The feeling that we were part of something bigger was omnipresent, and not just because Climate Ride operates eight charity rides around the country each year.
The real advantage was the power that accumulates when a group of impassioned people gather together. Climate Ride enables activists, supporters, and other engaged environmentalists to discuss, brainstorm, and problem-solve an issue that is uniquely local and global at the same time.
At Sustainable Harvest International, our mission is to preserve the environment by partnering with small-scale famers. We believe our work improves quality of life through sustainable agriculture.
Remember when I said Climate Ride felt exciting and daunting way back when I first signed up? That’s pretty much how I feel about my work, too.
Achieving our mission alongside the massive conventional agriculture industry can be overwhelming, much like the challenge of riding a bike a hundred miles in a single day. Pursuing our mission in the face of global climate change and accelerated rates of deforestation and environmental degradation is even more daunting.
But it’s also exciting, because I know it can be done
After each mile pedaled, I felt closer to the day’s goals, and at the end of each day, the trip from Bar Harbor to Boston seemed more attainable.
Similarly, through my daily work, I see the positive results when families apply sustainable techniques to their fields, when they reforest parcels of land, and when they problem-solve with local field trainers.
I see a healthier, enriched world where people work together with nature, not against it. Our goals are lofty, but they’re attainable as long as we get up every day and work for them.
Sustainable Harvest International is just one organization, but we are not alone. There are many stories of positive impact in a world facing climate change, and Climate Ride brings our voices together. Sustainable business firms, social good videographers, and alternative energy experts were all represented among the ride’s participants, each with their own unique angle on how we can address climate change.
Climate Ride is a creative/powerful symbol of what is possible—and necessary—for positive change to occur. Bringing people and organizations together to discuss, think, and create is essential to finding solutions to our most pressing challenges—and even better when done on bikes! There is nothing quite like a community of many working together.