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I just watched this inspiring documentary at the Projecting Change Film Festival. With My Own Two Wheels showcases 5 amazing individuals working with 5 amazing organization from around the world, all of which use bicycles as tools to transform lives and bring about social change.

Three of the amazing organizations showed in the film, that really stood out for me were:
Maya Pedal – they create bike powered machines in Guatemala. The film showcased some of their creations, like the bike-powered corn grinder, and one of the mechanics, Carlos, who is inventing these ingenious machines.
Bikes Not Bombs – they seem to have a million projects on-the-go, but the movie focused on a bike repair co-op in Ghana that employs disabled people. The film showcases a female mechanic, Mirriam, who’s optimism in the face of life’s struggles was inspiring.
World Bicycle Relief – they build bikes in Africa for live in Africa. Their COO was one of the speakers after the film and had one their bikes to show off. It’s a 55-lb steel framed workhorse that is designed to handle 200+ lb loads and require minimum maintenance. World Bicycle Relief also trains bike mechanics in the towns that it distributes its bikes in. I was really impressed to hear about the challenges the organization has worked through and how it continues to iterate on its design of the bikes and its distribution of them. For example, it now spends more time now training its mechanics in business skills (something it initially didn’t consider) then mechanic skills because it found that was more important to ensuring their success.

So many awesome organizations. With My Own Two Wheels has a section on their website on next pedal strokes that you can take locally and globally to help. In Vancouver, I’d recommend checking out PEDAL, who started Maya Pedal and runs Our Community Bikes (amongst other great programs). Globally, I’m going to donate to World Bicycle Relief so that a Zambian student can receive a bike to ride to school instead of walking for hours.

Which reminds me, this week is Bike to Work Week in Vancouver. Enjoy your ride.

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