2018 Rider Profile: Mike Ford

Meet Mike Ford, sixth in the 2018 series of rider profiles.  Mike is the youth pastor at Blooming Glen Mennonite Church.   Get to know the riders for the PA to DC rides as the series unfolds, then follow the trips!  Learn more.  Donate.  

 

As a Christian in the Anabaptist (Mennonite) tradition, I’ve long valued living a simple life and minimizing my impact on the world’s resources.  As I’ve come to understand more of climate change and the environmental challenges we are already seeing because of it, I’ve tried to learn more of what I can do individually to help make change, and as a pastor, what  I can preach/teach to help more people see the tie between faith and good stewardship of our limited resources and environment.

In years past, I’ve followed PA IPL and this ride through participant and friend Ben Wideman.  Ben asked if I would join him this year in scouting out the Philadelphia-D.C. trip, and I decided to get off the sidelines and onto the field.  I love long distance bike riding (especially when a cause is involved) and the challenges and discoveries that come with it.

I suppose I’m fairly typical in how I approach climate action in my own life — I try to live a lifestyle where I reduce/reuse/recycle.  In the last year, I’ve tried to focus on reducing the energy use of our home by increasing insulation, installing energy saving thermostats, installing LED lightbulbs, using less water.  Getting more involved with PA IPL is pushing me in good ways to be more informed and active in this regard.

I love people, adventure, risk, and good chocolate!  I’m looking forward to all that and more on this ride.  Follow along!


Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2018 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801)

 

THANK YOU
 to our 2018 SILVER sponsor Sun Directed,

and to our 2018
BRONZE sponsors:

PHEW!
The Weimer Group
Exact Solar
richards | stover group  and Freeze / Thaw Cycles

Want more cyclists?
Read Ben’s past profiles

 

2018 Rider Profile: John Stoltzfus

Meet John Stoltzfus, fifth in the 2018 series of rider profiles.  Get to know the riders for the PA to DC rides as the series unfolds, then follow the trips!  Learn more.  Donate.  

 

“There are no unsacred places; there are only sacred places and desecrated places.”
~ Wendell Berry

Why ride a bike from Philadelphia to DC when a car would get me there in a few hours?

I could say that I’m doing it because I love the exercise helping keep me in good health. Or I could say that I’m biking for the adventure in the great outdoors. Or I could say that I simply love bikes themselves – so elegant and efficient. Or I could say that I love the excitement of pushing myself to climb a hill and the friendly competition with someone trying to go faster or the great conversation that always seems to go with bike riding. Or I could say that I’m doing it for the guilt free opportunity to indulge in post ride ice cream and chocolate!

While all these reasons hold some truth, I’m riding mostly for the reminder that the task before us is difficult that will require all our collective efforts. Coming to terms with the climate catastrophe is hard. The way is long but the struggle is necessary. It is a spiritual and moral struggle. It confronts our deepest questions and values about ourselves. It requires a radical necessity of moral change. It requires our being saved from business-as-usual.

It also requires us to be grounded in the strength of the larger faith community where we are to live into the call to be good stewards of the planet for the well-being of all of God’s creatures. I look forward to connecting with other communities along the way who are also asking the question of how can we be more of a earth honoring faithful people of God.

As a father of four children I wonder how can we model to the next generation a life that gives witness to the sacredness of this earth. How can we be made uneasy by, or as Martin Luther King Jr. says, “maladjusted” to, the ways our modern society and culture cause harm to the Earth, to each other, and to our spirituality?

Wen Stephenson, in his book “What We’re Fighting for Now is Each Other,” states that “we are not avoiding the catastrophe that is coming within our century and the lives of our children and grandchildren. Rather we’re plunging headlong toward the worst-case scenarios–critical global food and water shortages, rapid sea-level rise, social upheaval–and beyond.” And more importantly those least responsible for the climate change, the poor and marginalized, are often the most affected.

The climate is changing so why aren’t we?

My family and faith community are still exploring how we can be shaped into the kind of people God envisions to embrace a new day of justice, mercy and kindness for all the earth. In my home congregation of Plains Mennonite Church we are looking at small and big ways to respond from participating in local stream cleanups to investigating a move to solar energy. In my family we struggle to reduce our oversized ecological footprint when most everything around us encourages us consume more than our share.

On a recent clear and brisk spring day I was inspired while on a bike ride around the beautiful Galena Lake of Peace Valley Park with my children. In the midst of such beauty it is hard to come to grips with the harm we are doing to this planet, God’s good creation, and to one another. I owe it to them and to all of our children to leave our planet in better shape than when we found it.

When the journey gets hard I remember the words of Kurt Hahn, a champion of experiential education, who said that “there is more in us than we know if we could be made to see it; perhaps, for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.


Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2018 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801)

 

THANK YOU
 to our 2018 SILVER sponsor Sun Directed,

and to our 2018
BRONZE sponsors:

PHEW!
The Weimer Group
Exact Solar
richards | stover group  and Freeze / Thaw Cycles

2018 Rider Profile: Maggie Jaenicke

Meet Maggie Jaenicke, fourth in the 2018 series of rider profiles.  Get to know the riders for the PA to DC rides as the series unfolds, then follow the trips!  Learn more.  Donate.  

Biking has always served as a space for reflection and expedition in my life, from my childhood rides through Pennsylvania’s Lower Trail and Delaware’s Cape Henlopen State Park, to my more recent journey from State College to Washington with PA IPL.

Accompanied by my dad (Ted), I first rode to DC in the spring of 2017. This year my brother Eli will ride in his stead.  Having been away at Macalester College in flat Minnesota all year, I look forward to reconnecting with both the Pennsylvania hills and my family on the 2018 trip. Last year I prepared by biking to school, but the persistent layer of Minnesota snow and ice, along with the absence of my bike here, presents a current challenge for me. While I haven’t been able to bike outdoors this year, I have been able to play lots of ultimate frisbee with the Macalester Purse Snatchers, as well as less regular stints of intramural basketball and dodgeball.

As I integrate myself into my new community at Macalester, climate change remains central to my dialogue in and out of class. I am involved with Fossil Free Mac, a student-run organization on campus urging Macalester to divest of fossil fuels. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels seems daunting, but riding to DC is a tangible reminder of how possible it is to forego them, even for a few days. I plan to major in environmental studies and geography, with a minor in Spanish. The PA IPL bike trip supplies a concrete bookend for my year, as well as a synthesis of my concerns about climate change and my love of charting new territory.

Growing up in the Episcopal church, I never felt especially connected with my religion, but last year’s trip helped catalyze my faith journey. I’ve recently become interested in connecting with and learning more about the Jewish faith, in part because of recent exposure to its traditions, and in part because of the distant Jewish roots in my family, which I know little about. I look forward to engaging with the stops and sites at Jewish congregations, as well as the others, on the ride this year.


Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2018 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801)

 

THANK YOU
 to our 2018 SILVER sponsor Sun Directed,

and to our 2018
BRONZE sponsors:

PHEW!
The Weimer Group
Exact Solar
richards | stover group  and Freeze / Thaw Cycles

Want more?
Read Maggie’s 2017 profile.

2018 Rider Profile: Carla Rossi

Meet Carla Rossi!  Hers is the third in the 2018 series of rider profiles.  Get to know the riders for the PA to DC rides as the series unfolds, then follow the trips!  Learn moreDonate.  

[Find Carla in the green shirt, second row, on a 2017 training ride on a windy, windy day!]

After years of joining in for local training rides and the “sendoff”, and following the group’s progress on the website,  I’m really excited to be able to ride myself this year.  I attend Grace Lutheran Church in State College, which is how I first learned about the ride, since several other riders, both past and present, are fellow members there. My previous position at Penn State as the financial officer in VP Research always kept me too busy in the spring to be able to train and take off time for the ride.  I have changed positions and am entering a phased retirement so I have the extra time to prepare for the ride this year.

This will be my first pack-your-own long-distance ride, but my husband and I both typically commute to work, church, errands via CATA (the local bus), by either bicycling or walking.  When we moved into town 30 years ago, we specifically chose to live where we could limit our need to drive.  Maybe I’ll find out that I am wrong, but I am more nervous about visiting Congress than I am about the ride itself.  I’m not much of an activist generally, but I do feel very strongly that we should be doing everything possible to attempt to address climate change.  I try to do that in my own daily life, with my transportation efforts and more, but those efforts seem quite small.  I’m an avid recycler and composter often calling out my co-workers when they “trash” items in the office that should instead be put in recycling or composting.

I hope this ride can inspire others to make small, or large, changes in their daily routines to focus more on caring for this wonderful planet that is our home.  I believe we have a responsibility to care for creation and do our part to preserve and improve it for future generations.


Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2018 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801)

 

THANK YOU
 to our 2018 SILVER sponsor Sun Directed,

and to our 2018
BRONZE sponsors:

PHEW!
The Weimer Group
Exact Solar
richards | stover group  and Freeze / Thaw Cycles

2018 Rider Profile: Jason Whitney

Meet Jason Whitney!  This is the second in the 2018 series of rider profiles.  Get to know the riders for the PA to DC rides as the series unfolds, then follow the trips!  Learn moreDonate.  

This is my second ride to Washington DC with IPL to lobby Congress about climate change.
There are five main ways I look at the global climate change situation:

  1. I look at climate change as a cyclist, and I’m reminded that it is possible to go from State College to Washington DC on pedal power alone.   This reminds me that there are alternatives to torching fossil fuels to power every aspect of one’s life.
  2. I look at climate change as a father, and I’d like to see the world make advances that curb emissions to ensure a sustainable world for future generations.
  3. I look at climate change through the lens of conservationism and spirituality.  This world is unique and beautiful, and we must care for God’s creation.
  4. I look at climate change through the lens of personal responsibility.  Activism is necessary, as climate change policy makes the difference between whether we incentivize or obstruct the growth of alternative energy sources in this country, whether American coal ends up in the atmosphere or stays in the ground, whether cars become more efficient and those efficiencies become ubiquitous or whether they will be consigned to guzzle gas for decades to come.  In this and in many other areas, Pennsylvania and the United States can make a major difference in how climate changes.
  5. I look at climate change through the shame of my own hypocrisy, and my motivation to do better.   I try to be a part of the solution, but I am also very much a part of the problem.  I fly a lot, I drive an SUV, and I have a classic American hyper-consumerist carbon footprint.

Obviously, some reflection is necessary as to what the next steps are for me.  I plan to do much of that thinking on the bike.

I’m looking forward to another ride!  WASHINGTON DC OR BUST !!!


Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2018 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801)

 

THANK YOU
 to our 2018 SILVER sponsor Sun Directed,

and to our 2018
BRONZE sponsors:

PHEW!
The Weimer Group
Exact Solar
richards | stover group  and Freeze / Thaw Cycles

Want more cyclists?
Read Jason’s 2014 profile.

2018 Rider profile: Ben Wideman

This is the first in the 2018 series of rider profiles.  Get to know the riders for the PA to DC rides as the series unfolds, then follow the trips!  Learn moreDonate.  

Each spring, as the snow melts, I look with sadness on my clunky winter commuter bike, its chain now covered with rust, salt eating away at the frame and gears, knowing that I haven’t taken good enough care of it through the Pennsylvania winter. My gaze then shifts to my spring/summer/fall bike and my sadness melts away like the recent April snow. Summer is around the corner, and that means warmer weather, longer rides, and the beginning of new adventures.

Every year I become more convinced that travel by bike is the best way to go. It isn’t always the easiest method – especially when it comes to climbing hills or braving the elements – but it is certainly the most rewarding. I know that my bicycle pace allows me to discover the world in ways that don’t happen in the same way if I’m traveling by car or plane.

Bicycle-based experiences also have the ability to deepen connections with a local community, and build friendships. I can navigate the alleyways and back roads of my area with a much deeper knowledge than someone who only travels by car. I can recognize faces, stop for conversation much easier, and get a feel for what’s going on in my neighborhood. I also start to notice the subtle values of things that only city planners, cyclists, and walkers notice – shaded tree-lined routes, the best downhill stretches, streets with bike lanes and less congestion, and the amazing feeling of riding alongside a cooling river. My bike-riding friends always seem to be the folks with whom I have the deepest conversations – perhaps because of our shared experience of the journey, but also because there is something very conversational in the pace of a bike ride.

I first experienced the PA IPL ride in the spring of 2015. I was still new to central Pennsylvania, but that trip introduced me to an incredible group of people who were also concerned about our environment and enjoyed discovering the world by bicycle. Even though we were from different walks of life, vocations, and faith traditions, we developed a connection that has lasted beyond our week of riding together.

As the ride has grown, we’ve started to dream about expanding this experience to other parts of our state. I’m excited to be helping to get a group of riders together for the first PA IPL ride from Philadelphia to Washington DC. Having spent three years as a pastor in the greater Philadelphia area means that I’ve been excited to pull in some old friends to join me on this journey. Our aim is to arrive in DC on the same afternoon as our fellow riders from State College, joining them to lobby on Capitol Hill the following day. This new experience of a bike trip planner means I’ve found renewed appreciation for Jon Brockopp and others who have organized rides like these in the past. It is a bit unsettling to be mapping out a trip on roads you’ve never ridden, covering terrain and neighborhoods you’ve never been, but we’re thrilled to watch this new ride take shape. Already we’ve received offerings of support from several environmentally-minded congregations along our route, and we are working collaboratively with Delaware IPL and MD/NoVA/DC IPL to find hosts and meals as we journey to DC. It is amazing to watch this movement continue to grow and reach more people who will bring a new excitement to the #PAIPLonBikes movement

Just as the changing seasons provide their reminder, the PA IPL Bike Trip reminds me that indeed, summer is around the corner, and that means warmer weather, longer rides, and the beginning of new adventures. I’m excited for all that is to come.

Ben is the pastor at 3rd Way Collective.


Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2018 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801)

 

THANK YOU
 to our 2018 SILVER sponsor Sun Directed,

and to our 2018
BRONZE sponsors:

PHEW!
The Weimer Group
Exact Solar
richards | stover group  and Freeze / Thaw Cycles

Want more cyclists?
Read Ben’s past profiles