Announcement: Route Change

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IMGP5991_bike-detour-sign

I remember a few years ago, I went to see Roger Geller, the Bicycle Coordinator for the city of Portland speak. Overall it was a fantastic presentation – if you’re curious, the slides can be found here. But one of the subjects he touched on was the idea of risk versus comfort. There are definitely some situations that are more risky to cycle in than others. I remember when I was plotting last year’s route into New York City, one option had us going along the east side of the Hudson river. At one point the directions said very clearly “WALK, DO NOT RIDE ON THIS STRETCH.” The traffic was known for being so dangerous that riding a bike there was risking one’s life. However, there’s also the idea of comfort, or more specifically feeling comfortable in a riding position. For example, in much city traffic, the safest thing to do is to take the entire driving lane. The reason for this is simple: there isn’t enough space for both a bike and car to safely share the lane, taking the entire lane encourages drivers to switch lanes entirely rather than just squeezing to the left enough to get by you. This practice also ensures you’ll be much more visible. But in some traffic that doesn’t feel comfortable. Very often, riding in the centre of the lane feels very vulnerable, in part because you’re right in the middle of the lane, and also in part because of anticipated or actual driver aggression.

Recently with all of the news about gun violence, and an increase in the purchase of guns including assault weapons by folks in the US, I’ve decided that a route through the US is not something I want to take on. Whether this is because of actual risk or “comfort level” as I mentioned above could be the subject of much debate, but in my case, my path forward is pretty clear. Long distance cycling has its inherent risks, as does doing it through relatively desolate areas along with the weather that can be expected in the deep south. I don’t want to add any further risk – perceived or otherwise to this trip.

So while the trip will definitely go forward, it will occur outside of the borders of the United States. At this point an eastbound trek, perhaps to Newfoundland is what seems most likely, but the final route is still to be determined.

Interview: Ryan Garcia, 366 Acts of Kindness

Ryan Garcia of 366randomacts.org

Ryan Garcia of 366randomacts.org

Working on this project for over a year now I’ve seen more and more people promoting kindness. Friends who know of my project now send me articles and inspiring posts about people who are on a similar journey to my own. To say this has changed my outlook would be an understatement. Knowing that there are so many wonderful people out in the world quietly doing good makes the bad news we receive daily through newspapers and television a little easier to stomach. It also keeps me always on the lookout for good whenever I see it. But I’m only actively working on this project a few hours a week, followed by a pretty intense few weeks of a bike ride during which it is hard not to focus on the kindness of strangers. But imagine if you spent every day of an entire year focusing on that. Well, Ryan Garcia of 366 Random Acts of Kindness has done just that. Ryan was able to answer a few questions for us just a few days before completing a full year of performing acts of kindness.



Outside of your project, what do you do?
I am an outside sales representative for ZocDoc. ZocDoc is an online platform that allows anyone to search for doctors and book appointments with them.

How did you come up with the idea of 366 Acts of Kindness?
On December 31st, 2011, I was sitting on my couch watching my then 3 month old daughter playing on the ground. Something just hit me that I needed to try to make the world around her a better place and set a positive example for her. Then I just told my wife “Ya know, I think I am going to do a different act of kindness every day next year.” She thought it sounded crazy but has supported me the entire way.

What are you hoping to accomplish with your project?
Besides setting a positive example for my daughter, I hope that more and more people see the ease of kindness. The world would be a much better place if each person performed a random act of kindness everyday.

Your project is inspiring so many people. Who inspires you?
Isla is my biggest inspiration, but none of this would be possible without the day to day inspiration of my wife. She is my rock and has been everything to this project. My family and friends also help keep me going by joining along, giving ideas, and supporting me along the way.

You’ve been performing acts of kindness every day for almost a year now. Has this changed you in any way?
100%. I am always on the lookout for opportunities for kindness and notice people doing kind things every day. I have always been sarcastic and kind of a cynic but that has been blown out of the water after doing this project.

Were there any surprises in this project?
I was surprised how it took on a life of its’ own. When I first started I figured that my friends and family would follow on Facebook, etc. I never thought that I would be doing interviews all around the world, meeting celebrities and athletes (all of whom have been so kind), and receiving the most touching letters and emails I could ever imagine.

We’re just a few days away from Day 366, what’s next for you?
It’s something I have been trying to think of a whole lot. I’m not too sure I will be blogging about it everyday, but I have a couple of things in mind. I don’t think I will confine myself to a single year either.

We at 500 Kindnesses talk a lot about *performing* acts of kindness but we spend less time talking about what it’s like to be on the receiving end. What is the most memorable act of kindness that you’ve ever been on the receiving end of?
The aforementioned letters and emails that I have received from people have been the greatest act of kindness that I have received. The stories and kind words that people have shared with me has touched me to the core, and they have made this the most unforgettable year of my life.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Just that there is such an ease to doing kind acts. It doesn’t have to be some grand undertaking, but there are so many different opportunities on a daily basis where you can impact someone’s life in way’s you couldn’t imagine.

Pledge #815: Bilingual Kindness

Chausseur

Act of Kindness Pledged: Yesterday, while standing in line at a shoe store, I watched as one of the staff tried to explain to an elderly lady that she had only 30 days to return her purchase. The lady only spoke French and no one in the store could speak the language, even at a basic level. Despite not having spoken a word of French in ~10 years, I translated what the store clerk was trying to say. I’m normally very shy but I felt this situation called for action! Bonus kindness: the store manager was so thankful for my help that she gave me an additional discount on my purchase. Pledge #815, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

photo Marcel Moré

Pledge #814: Letters of Gratitude

what are you grateful for?

Instead of being submitted through the usual pledge form, this one came tucked in a Christmas card that arrived yesterday from a close friend of mine. Inside the card was another card, this one a “Thank You” card with a personal message that ended: “I’m kicking off my acts of kindness. My Christmas cards all contain thank you letters for the people who mean the most to me.”

photo 77webstudio

Holiday Card Drive: 367 Participants!

snowynewyear

Thanks to everyone who participated in our holiday card drive for the residents of The Moorings. At the end, according to our Facebook Event, we had a total of 367 participants, some of whom sent multiple cards.

What I like about this event aside from the obvious aspect of making people happy, is how it clearly demonstrates a few of the most important things I’m trying to get across with this project:

An act of kindness doesn’t have to be huge or take a great deal of effort to make a huge difference people’s lives. A card sent, a smile or a hug given, a meal shared – these things, when lovingly performed can be truly significant to another person.

A number of small acts, when performed together, can make create an even bigger impact. One card sent is lovely, many cards sent is all the more so. A few minutes effort on the part of a few hundred people truly adds up. And for being a part of that, I truly thank you all.

Most importantly, it also illustrates the power of turning ideas into action. We’re all filled with amazing ideas, beautiful ideas, ideas that can do nothing short of change the world around us. But if we talk ourselves out of doing those ideas, find reasons that it won’t work, or won’t have the desired impact, then nothing will happen. In this case so many people got together, took an idea that we all shared in our heads, and instead of finding reasons not to do it (I could have found dozens for myself alone!) we just did it.

So as we approach the new year, I challenge you to take action – not just with acts of kindness, but in all areas of your lives. Turn your ideas into reality. You’ll be amazed what you can create.

Pledge #446: Latte Memories

1st attempt at Pollard Heart Trio

Act of Kindness Pledged: Tomorrow I am bringing coffee, eggnog, and my espresso machine to work and will make eggnog lattes for my coworkers. This is in memory of one of our friends who used to work with us who, every Christmas, would bring in his supplies and make lattes for us. We all miss him a lot. Pledge #446, Newport, Oregon, USA

photo Christopher Alameda