Many changes have happened in the lives of the Ride America for Safe Routes team since the end of our trip in April. Here's a quick overview:
Chelsea returned to Vermont and speed-wrote her geology thesis in two weeks, handing it in on the deadline and graduating from Middlebury College with high marks! She and I spent several weeks traveling to celebrate, visiting friends (and rock climbing and bike riding of course) around New England and then road tripping out west to Montana where she will spend the next year living with friends and teaching Spanish to toddlers. Our trip back across the country included a stop in Naperville to see Steph, a stop at our Grandma's house in Missouri, and a couple of days in Idaho for the Coeur D'Alene Ironman race weekend (we volunteered and signed up for next year!). Again, lots of bike riding and running were mixed in during that trip.
Jane returned to DC and also finished up her school semester with last minute work to summarize the physical activity promotion benefits of our trip and present to her department. She hardly slowed down at the end of the semester, picking up several several summer courses almost immediately. Steve and the animals are glad to have her back home in DC, and they've all been busy harvesting a booming crop of vegetables from the backyard garden.
Steph is back in Naperville with her family, helping take care of her baby nephew, and doing dirty dashes on the weekend with her dad and sisters (5k obstacle run finishing with a crawl through a mud pit). She took a canoe trip in June in Wisconsin with her boyfriend Greg and a bunch of friends, and she'll spend the rest of the summer working for the Student Conservation Association. She supervises a group of 10 high school students in a conservation work program, including hard labor such as trail building and educational field trips. She'll join Greg in the Alaska wilderness for a few weeks in September and is planning for a another reunion with Jeanie in the fall.
I (Jeanie) and the Manatee made our 3rd voyage across the country this year (note: Manatee's odometer recently passed 22,000 miles... since January), dropping Chelsea in Montana before heading to our final destination and new home, Sacramento, CA! After presenting to the Safe Routes to School California Non-Infrastructure Forum here back on April 30, Chelsea, Steph, and I had dinner with Deb Hubsmith, Executive Director of the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and founder of the movement for Safe Routes to School. The timing couldn't have been better - Deb was hiring a new advocacy organizer in California, and recommended I apply. I got the job! Very happily, I've gone from volunteer to professional bike/ped advocate in a matter of weeks. I've been on the job as California Advocacy Organizer for two weeks now and really love it. California is an exciting and dynamic state to work in, and I've already been able to reconnect with many of the great friends we met on our trip. This is also a pivotal time to be working in the active transportation arena, with bad news for bike/ped projects out of Washington and even greater need to galvanize the already strong movement for safer routes.
Our honorary teammates and other friends have also returned to their normal but very exciting lives. Darlene is back at home in Georgia, but is expanding her bicycling horizons with a new (fast!) riding partner and lots of big rides in her future. White lightning (her bike) is on vacation with her in Michigan, and they will be embarking together on the grueling Six Gap Century in north Georgia in Sept. Kaitlynn had an adventurous trip back across the country in May,
including camping and climbing in Utah and a stop at her alma mater
Middlebury College for Chelsea's graduation. She is now in India for a
fellowship at an affordable private school in Bangalore. Hannah graduated with Chelsea in May and moved to Jackson Hole, WY to teach at the Teton Science School.
Last but certainly not least, Ride America for Safe Routes just this week received approval from the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt 501(c)3 status! That's right, we're officially a non-profit! To all of our donors - thank you so much for your support, we couldn't have done it without you. And now you can write off your donation on your 2012 return! We're obviously excited by this big step for our organization, and starting to set our sights on bigger and broader organizational goals and plans for future safe routes advocacy tours. Please stay tuned! And we'll continue to stay in touch with all of our friends and supporters with updates. BIKE MORE!