Busy Day!

I went to VOTE EARLY today. And for anyone out there who is wondering, my ballot is definitely getting counted. In the state of California anyway, you receive a bar-coded stub expressly for checking to make sure. Oh man, it felt so good.

And then I went out shopping for a halloween costume. I know, I know, crafty as I may be, Halloween just always seems to sneak up on me. I just have so much trouble deciding on a costume. Should I go as sexy abe lincoln? or something referential like a character from Clue? or more conceptual, as the universe? or more halloween 2.0, like a scarecrow? This year I headed to Thrift town and let the costume speak to me.

Oh this? This I spotted on the way outside and it made me smile. It isn't my costume. Maybe I'll give you a glimpse of the final verdict tomorrow...

And in the meantime, happy halloween...


the PHILLIES WON, but the fans flipped my friend's car!!!

My friend Ted is a pretty great guy. He was out celebrating the win of our beloved Phillies last night only to come home to his car flipped, windows broken, and bumper pulled off. As much as it rules to go out and celebrate like its 1999 ya never think that flipped car is gonna be yours or your friend's but it sometimes is. Sooo Ted had a great idea. He set up a blog www.phillyfixmycar.blogspot.com (you can see a video of the re-flip at the bottom of the page). There you can read his little story and donate to his cause. He's an amazing videographer and needs his car for work but did not have the insurance necessary to cover the damage for this. If everyone there last night could donate $10 he could buy a new car, shoot, if everyone there last night could donate $1 he could buy a new car. If you feel for him, help him out. If not, remember to tell people you know who would do something like that "Karma's a bitch." You can check Ted's work out at www.tedpasson.com. Thanks dudes!


Take A Hike

Literally! See how handy the superhero is on outdoor adventures? This is just one instance on a perfectly leisurely hike with my friend Halimah through my local Redwood Regional:

There's a spot for your hydration of choice, your GORP, your compass, your firstaid kit, and you could even tie a longsleeve throught the lock holster if you wanted to. So much less sweaty than a backpack (we did a side-by-side comparison and it was pretty much a landslide victory). And may this be a public service announcement for your local underutilized national and regional parks: Go to them! They are beautiful and it is October! You won't be sorry.


Busy Weekend Rama Rama

In case the other two things happening this weekend in Philly weren't enough (you people are a tough crowd!) there is yet one more major thing going on. And it starts in an hour! I got a last minute tip that today is Swap-O-Rama-Rama in Philadelphia, the local incarnation of the national series of events by this name. What is it exactly? It's a huge day of swapping clothes and reinventing them with tons of resources at your fingertips to help. Today's is put on by our long time fave, the Philadelphia Sewing Collective and it only costs 20 bucks!

Once you've traded some of your old clothes for some new-to-you ones, there are a series of workshops taught by pros (like Ellie from R.E.Load, for one) on specific projects like turning old t-shirts into underpants. Then there are stations set up with sewing machines for you to use in your projects or embellishment stations involving knitting, crocheting and embroidery. All of the above are staffed by people who know what's up in the world of making and all they want to do is help you! Sound pretty sweet? There is always a fashion show at the end of the day if you're into that sort of a thing.

Tickets available for purchase at Brown Paper Tickets for 20 dollars. The Rama runs from 12-5 today at Old Pine Community Center at 401 Lombard Street here is lovely Philadelphia. Bring your friends! Hurry!


Biketoberfest? Biketoberfests!

Yes, that's plural. This year will see the inaugural Biketoberfest in Philadelphia, put on by the Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition at Dock Street at 50th & Baltimore in West Philadelphia. I can't think of a more suitable location in October, with W.Philly's wealth of autumnal color and just downstairs from the wonderful bike shop at Firehouse. The brewery has crafted a special brew for the occasion and there are prizes up for raffle including a R.E.Load Bag, a bike and a service package at TrophyBikes. There's only 300 tickets available for sale so you'd be advised to purchase early (now!) to ensure you get in to see the entertainment: a lineup featuring Stinking Lizaveta, Natural Selection, the West Philly Orchestra and DJ's Danophonic & Hoagie Jawns...who you may or may not recognize as an FH model. 25 bones gets you entry, a food ticket and a commemorative pint glass; 15 gets you just entry and pintglass. (for those of you investors hurting from the recent market nosedive) Cash bar, 21+ and all proceeds benefit the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, who absolutely deserve your support! That's this SUNDAY OCTOBER 19 2-6 pm.

Now remember how I said fests? There's also a Biketoberfest here on the west coast in Fairfax, CA. If you're in the bay area, this fest--hosted by Access4Bikes and the Marin County Bicycle Coalition--in its 5th year will benefit bicycle advocacy in Marin County, the number one destination outside of the city for Bay Area cyclists. The event features a marketplace of bike builders, manufacturers, merchants, teams, clubs and land management and environmental representatives alongside a brewfest, bringing over a dozen handcrafted beers from Northern California brewers: Lagunitas Brewing, Iron Springs, Broken Drum, Anchor Brewing, Bear Republic, Moolight, Eel River, North Coast Brewing, New Belgium and Sierra Nevada.

You'll find guided group road and mountain bike rides finishing at the festival, a vintage bicycle exhibit, bike swap and even more G rated events for the kiddies. This version of Biketoberfest also advertises live music and food organically grown in Northern California. This one takes place SATURDAY OCTOBER 18 11-6 at Fair-Anselm Plaza Parking lots, 765 Center Blvd (next to Iron Springs Pub), downtown Fairfax, CA. It's free for all parts except the beer tasting, which costs $20 per person.

I think the simultaneity of these two like-minded events is no coincidence, just the beginning of a nice trend. I'd like to believe that next year there will be dozens of these in every city across the land. Because really, what better way to benefit community bike initiatives and strengthen community?


Design Philadelphia

Yesterday kicked off DesignPhiladelphia, Philly's contribution to an accompanying National Design Week, an annual homage to the role of design in our culture. It hosts a staggering number of lectures, exhibits, demonstrations, screenings, discussions and recreational activities for the aesthetically minded. Sound pretty broad? Well, it is. In the best possible way.

DesignPhiladelphia boasts events in many many types of venues addressing issues of sustainability, including the technology of green materials, context and innovation across an expanse of medium. And the hosts include people from both traditional fields, like architecture, craft and textiles and not so traditional fields only now factoring into design, like food and ahem, cycling.

Daily Program maps, originally designed by Brian Kelly, available for download on the DesignPhiladelphia website

Here is the link if you'd rather head straight over to the event's calendar. But these are some of my picks for things I wouldn't miss if, alas, I were in the vicinity of Center City this weekend:

Hard Hat and Finished Tour of Green Affordable Philadelphia for a tour of Philadelphia's first affordable LEED certified homes by Habitat Philadelphia
Date: October 18, 2008
Time: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Location: 4200 block of Stiles Street
West Philadelphia

Craftadelphia! hosted by Philly Etsy at Mew Gallery
Date: October 18, 2008
Time: 11:00am - 4:00pm
Location: Mew Gallery
906 Christian Street

Bikes and Bricks, a slide show and demonstrative talk at Trophy bikes on the history of urban cycles from the 1930's to the present, including test riding.
Date: October 18, 2008
Time: 2:00pm – 3:30pm
Location: 3131 Walnut Street
University City

Lecture, Sustainable Strategies for the Urban Infrastructure hosted by Minima & UArts, discusses components associated with sustainable urban life: food production & bicycle culture. Contributors include Spencer Finch – Director of Sustainable Development Programs, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Alex Doty – Executive Director, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, Mary Seton Corboy – Founder and President, Greensgrow Farm & Nursery. This is presented along with A Clean Break, "an exhibition of modern, pre-fab architecture and high-design, low waste innovations for the urban environment" up at Minima Gallery. The exhibit allows visitors to wander through an urban green development and showcases the role of prefab components in urban design.
Date: October 18, 2008
Time: 3:45pm - 5:00pm
Location: The University of the Arts
CBS Auditorium in Hamilton Hall
320 South Broad Street (across from the exhibition lot)

Art Buggy Derby 3.0 presented by MAKE:Philly, a competition of buggies built from recycled materials judged on speed and ingenuity.
Date: October 19, 2008
Time: 2:00pm
Location: Washington Square Park
(south side of park)

DIRT - clean design on 4th Street: Bicycle Revolutions, showcasing custom built bicycles for urban riders and especially hand built wheels in custom colors and unusual spoke lacings.
Date: October 19, 2008
Time: 12:00pm – 5:00pm
Location: Bicycle Revolutions
712 South 4th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

This expo seems much more inclusive than I would have expected before reading the schedule. It brings together designers in Philadelphia that I associate on a theoretical level, but that rarely seem to be collaborating the rest of the time. Hopefully the event will bring together the disparate parts of Philly's very talented creative community and make design in Philadelphia a more cohesive force.


Cincinnati Rocks

We wanted to say thanks to the new eco-boutique Park + Vine in Cincinnati for their sweet post about us a couple weeks back. The shop, nestled in the metropolis of Carrie's college days, calls itself a green general store intended to bring innovative and mostly local wares to the good people of Cincinnati. They contacted us about wholesale in the early summer and it was great fun to design some belts for their shop. Something about their website made me think of camping in the sixties...it was summer, I was really into tan as an accent color and in that vein, the colors and textures I chose for their group of belts would be equally at home around a mod campfire as in the heat of the city. I was particularly excited to be making them after just glancing at their website:

Now, I've never been. But by the simple fact that they include a history of their space on their About Page I know these guys are on the right track. With a current list of pertinent events and a list of Cincinnati-specific destinations for the conscientious consumer, the shop proves more than just a destination for shopping. It's great to see resources and information alongside product placement; why, its why we were so psyched to send them our stuff in the first place!

We are always interested to see shops that are not bike shops want to retail our goods, discover what the faces of those places look like and learn where they fit into the urban landscape. So check out what they're saying about us and if you happen to be in Ohio...it might be worth a special trip.


Well, well, well...

What do we have here?

However reminiscent of the early 90's, this interesting storage solution was spotted by me at the residential intersection of 61st and Canning in Oakland. Rather flashy bike rack for a low key neighborhood I thought at first, but on second glance, I really like it.


Mapmaker, Mapmaker, make me a map.

Not to quote the great alaskin governor herself, but when in the heck did maps get so doggone trendy? Not that the idea isn't a bright one, it just feels almost supernatural the recent and veritable debutante ball for mapping. And I'm not talking google maps exactly, although their technology has certainly contributed to putting the skills formerly reserved for cartographers at the fingertips of the masses. I mean maps of things we never dreamed mappable. Maps of things that aren't visual, but audio; geographic, but not in terms of land forms. Maps are all of a sudden a new way to catalogue ideas and emotions and memory. I, for one, think it's pretty genius.

The genius lies mostly in that the maps evolving right now in cities across the country (and the world, probably) are made by many sets of eyes and ears. They are interactive, they are wiki and constantly being changed. I think their new digital character traits have much to do with their popularity of late: they are more accurate, more meaningful and in many ways, more like the things they represent. Traditionally, maps stood in for one person's approximation. And generally, the only thing they seemed to signify was that one person's subjectivity and bias. Lately, however, the genre has been reclaimed by many many well-minded groups who've been reinventing the concept of the map and along the way, authoring the new geography.

The first example I saw of this was the recently launched PGH Bike Map, a map of Pittsburgh's bike traffic, marked by information like accident reports, bike shops, interesting landmarks and events. You can print off a static copy of the simple geography to take with you, but the project is more engaging on the internet when you contribute and participate with the record itself, adding your own experiences of riding and thereby making the map more accurate. The subjectivity of the information actually makes the final product closer to accurate. And the stated purpose of the thing is to help make Pittsburgh, an unconventional cyclist's city, more friendly to new riders and to keep current riders informed and aware of the general cycling climate of the city. It is a new medium, by which community members communicate their experiences with one other and do so in the production of this terrific tool: the map. Every city should have one.

Open Sound New Orleans is another such visionary project. Only in New Orleans they're mapping sounds, music, dialogue--something the city is rich with, and putting the information into a very accessible, also collaborative map. Even in its early stages, the project has effectively created a document that describes many of the things that make New Orleans so verbally indescribable. And the map seems to infinitely illustrate that indescribability. The creators want more and more people to contribute sound to the map, show the many faces of their city and in the process, create a map to communicate their city's depth of character with one another and the world. The project currently has audio recording equipment available to rent out to anyone who wants to contribute bytes to the map and the Google image seems to grow more populated with little teardrop-shaped sound markers each time I visit their page. Talk about new media.

The nuance in these ideas is their public nature, keeping the information amassed by the project's participants in the hands of their city, in the most open sense of the word. They may be trendy, but also important. In some ways I have the sense people right now in time are grasping at the public experience as a way to reconnect and identify with place in the increasingly placeless reality of this contemporary American life. And maps let people do this. When you map something, you claim it. Public maps, therefore, are a way of collective reclaiming something people want to hold onto. Not so different from how graffiti once enabled people to reclaim urban spaces.

Know of any maps I missed? I'd love to hear about them.


picture stitcher

With all the sewing buzz lately, it's no wonder that more mixed medium artists are starting to use stitching in their illustrative and visual work. I love the way stitches read in 2 dimensions. The addition of some zig-zag, embroidery or straight meanderings can change the character of a perfectly beautiful picture into something more careful, with all the emotional depth that frequently accompanies the hand sewn object. Tactility should never be under rated.

This reminder came in the form of some pretty sweet art up currently at Rare Device in San Francisco. The show Let's Get Lost features pieces, both textiled and not, by artist Sarajo Frieden. This lady hails (originally) from my new home, Oakland, CA, and her work aims to explore the destinations one finds when surrendering to unpredictability. She says,"I may start out with intentions, thoughts, sketches or preconceived ideas about where I want to go. But at some point, I usually surrender any expectations to follow the roadless map that is creating. It is not a linear journey, and it's easy to get lost. But isn't that the point? How else would Pina Bausch's dancers find their way to the house in Mon Oncle?"

It's like finally understanding that everything is a big crazy mess, that everyone is actually a little insane and despite all of this, we're still okay. For me, it was a well-timed reminder of a lesson I thought I'd learned a long time ago. And much as I'm not sure I can say I glean all of that from these playful little sewn drawings, I've found that such issues of gigantic proportion are often best tackled with small gestures, especially playful ones.

Show's up til November 8, if you're in the neighborhood.


Inter bike bike bike bike bike.

The proximity in dates for this year's Interbike and Bike Bike were yet another reminder of the increasing segmentation, some might say diversification, of the cycling community. In contrast to the unanimous groan that echoed across our great land following Mr. LiveStrong's recent announcement, the goals of cycling and the interests of its adherents seem to fall farther and farther from the tree...er, stem.

Interbike is North America's premier expo of innovation in the cycling industry. In other words, its where all the industry people rub elbows and show off. It's where new fancy touts its schmancy and the latest trends proliferate. All the drivers of the industry bus are together in the same place--Las Vegas, at the same time--last weekend. It costs a pretty bundle to get yourself a spot to exhibit at Interbike, which means that your admittance as a vendor is akin to crossing a certain threshold which is measured in dollars. And those who can't afford a table or don't have anything to show off are usually there to scope the thing out, see whose table is crowded and see what the fuss is about to be about. They claim that you'll “reach over 10,000 targeted retailers, buyers, and journalists from over 60+ countries,” and “promote your brand and innovative products to a captive audience.” There are buyers.

Bike Bike on the other hand, is for those members of the cycling community who aren't in it to win it, so to speak. The conference took place this year in San Francisco where hundreds of people from across the country came to share knowledge of community bike projects, kitchens, churches and learn from one another the secrets to keeping such a decidedly profitless venture afloat. Their mission:

Bike!Bike! is an annual conference of community bicycle projects from around the country (and abroad) who come together in order to explore and affirm our common values; to create networks for sharing tools, organizational structures, funny stories and new skills; to inspire and invigorate ourselves to continue the work we do in our many communities; and to meet athletic strangers. We particularly strive to challenge the status quo that all too often excludes communities of color, enforces gender norms, and fails to provide options for those without money to spend. Another priority of BikeBike is to demonstrate and propagate successful consensus-based, non-hierarchical models of organizing. Our member projects have a variety of approaches to serving their cities and neighborhoods. Whether it is by teaching people to fix their own bikes, direct political bike advocacy, bike education in schools, yellow bike programs, or by recycling used bikes out of the waste stream, we all work towards a more sustainable, bike-filled and bike friendly future.

On the one hand, I think the overt counter purposes of the two get-togethers prove the strength of the cycling community's diversity. Many of bike-bike's participants would have little to work with if not for the stream of waste produced by interbike's consumer-driven innovators. But as I started, the nearness of the two events this year drives home the point that the visitors and vendors at Interbike are less and less the same people going to Bike Bike and vise versa. Which is to say, cycling as an industry shares little with cycling the movement, which is to say much of what drives their increasing market. As much as the participants of bike bike are not shopping at Performance or Velocity, their work in cities across the country means that more people everywhere are needing tubes and tires and bar tape and lights and even maybe one of the headbanger helmets debuted this year.

Now I know as well as the next guy that not everyone at Interbike is interested in the free gift in the form of political agenda so often given away in community bike programs. However. In a community as closely knit as cycling, separations are rarely as clear cut as holding separate conferences in different cities. Among bikes, I'd say we're not usually about dichotomies. So why this one?