Rider Profile: Dorothy Blair

DorothyBlair.BuddhaToday, meet Dorothy Blair as the third profile in our get-to-know-the-riders series.  The 2014 PA-to-DC ride  will take place May 2-6.  

I guess you could say I am an outdoor, adventuresome type.  Adventure to me means traveling through places on bike or foot where the scenery is inspiring, or to where people find satisfaction and meaning in lives totally different from my own.  I joined the Peace Corps back in 1968, right out of college. and spent 2 years working in the Philippines, teaching and helping to create greater food security among the poor. After the Peace Corps and a stint as a social services caseworker I got my PH.D. from Cornell University. and joined the Penn State Nutritional Sciences Dept. and STS Program to teach about nutrition and food security.  I retired in 2012, continuing to work in nutrition abroad, most lately in Mozambique and and Uganda.

Lack of food security, poverty and inequality create hunger, but climate warming is a game changer.  Since 1980, I have taught about the threat of climate change and how it effects the most vulnerable, particularly the droughts and floods that destroy their homes and ruin their crops.   Eighteen million mostly poor Bangladeshis are or will soon be climate refugees, due rising sea level and flooding of the fertile basin of the Ganges River.  Due to drought, millions of Africans will be unable to produce their own crops, and as our own droughts and diversion of corn for  biofuel curtail US food exports, food prices will skyrocket .  I feel this inequity very deeply.  The people who will pay the most for our fossil fuel profligacy use no electricity in their homes, travel on foot, and often cannot afford  a battery charge if they even own a cellphone.   It would be one thing if we realized our culpability, taxed carbon, and did everything in our power to build carbon free energy/transportation systems.  But as Richard Alley says, we are accustomed to our 100 willing slaves, and are hard to convince that our beloved life-style habits of dependency on carbon-based fuels pose a climate problem.

I also cross-country ski, hike and backpack in the Pennsylvania ridges, and enjoy working in my large fruit and vegetable garden as a continuation of my long-term commitment to localizing food.  Back in 1988 at Sycamore Garden my husband and I farmed 3 acres for 30 families — the first CSA in Central PA.  Now as a widow, my solar-powered and carbon sequesterng garden provides 2-3 people with organic produce for 9 months of year, with plenty more to share. Luckily, my son Ethan, now 24 and working in IT in Denver, also shares my adventuresome genes, mountain bikes, hikes, skis, and even savors vegetables cooked with the spices of many cuisines.

DorothyBlair.bikecoveredbridgeFor me, biking feels liberating, like being a kid again.  I have been riding a 10 speed bike since I was 10 years old, and never looked back.  Though I used to take 40 mile bike-rides as a grad student, I didn’t really bike longer distances until I met Bob Potter.  Our first trip was to Elk Creek Cafe from my home in Boalsburg, then Spruce Creek, then Lewisburg. We have biked around all of  the Finger Lakes together.  What a great feeling to be on the road for days in wine country with only a few items packed in panniers!

There are less energetic moments in my life: lots of reading next to my woodstove with lap-cats; writing, and singing alto in the State College Choral Society.  I watch the birds, grow huge quantities of flowers to give away, and enjoy making celebratory meals for friends.

Through these life choices I try to practice my Unitarian Universalist beliefs of honoring others and the Earth.

Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2014 to PA IPL 2100-C East College Ave., State College, PA 16801)