We recently wrapped up sales of our summer coffee blend, Coast, which is a partnership with Norte! Youth Cycling, raising funds for their super awesome bike-themed after-school program, the Bike Más Project. This year, sales of Coast generated a $2,039 donation to the BMP from Higher Grounds. Norte's program director, Ben Boyce, shares the following about the program (original post here).
Throughout this summer and autumn, I have ridden bikes with close to 100 kids as part of Norte’s Bike Mas Project. These kids ranged in age from 6 to 14, and the project’s goal was to teach them how to safely ride their bicycle around Traverse City. The Bike Más Project uses something that we call “adventure-based learning” so it might look a lot like a summer camp where you learn wilderness survival skills, for example. Learning to ride your bike across town safely is a lifelong skill, and the Bike Más Project tries to make that learning process fun and exciting.
The fact that our town is the most beautiful place to ride bikes in all the land definitely helps with the Project’s success! One of the things I did with the groups throughout the season is keep the day’s schedule fluid so that we could adjust the route to take advantage of a surprise opportunity to explore and learn something new, like when Francis, the DNR guy, invited the whole group of Glenn Loomis kids to come around to the inside of the fish weir on the Boardman River. That was awesome! I learned a ton that afternoon.
I really want the Project’s participants to experience how moving around under their own power on a bicycle can lead to spontaneous adventure because we interact more with everyone that we pass when we slow down a little and are not stuck in a car. That sounds like fun for kids and adults, right?
One of the most satisfying things for me with Bike Más is watching the young participants being responsible for themselves. I always try to shift as much as possible of the decision-making and route-finding to the kids, so that they will continue to have a stake in the day and stay involved. For instance, getting to all the fun places to explore over in the Commons, like Higher Grounds Coffee and the rope swing, requires crossing some major roads, like Division Street. I like to pull the group together to have a huddle before we make the big crossing so that I can remind them all that they are responsible for putting into practice all the rules and techniques we have covered so far to make it to the other side safely. I want them to have fun overcoming the challenges, but it is more impactful when they understand that their own actions lead to that accomplishment, not because I was holding their hand when they crossed the intersection.
I hope that each of the 100 kids who got to ride bikes together this season had a lot of fun and made some really good memories. I also hope that they remember the challenges that each of them overcame to enjoy the good times on the other side of the difficulties.
We all know that riding bikes in Traverse City is awesome but riding bikes in Traverse City with a bunch of kids is even awesome’er.
As Norte!’s Program Director, Ben Boyce gets to do what he likes most: ride bikes and work with kids. Ben has spent many years working in bike shops, and now enjoys the variety that his position at Norte! offers. Ben lives just outside of town with his wife and two young children. On a really good day, he will have a tailwind on his ride home, and some time to work in his garage.
Coast summer blend will return in June 2018. Our fall blend, Harvest, is a partnership with the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, raising funds for farm to school programming in northern Michigan, bringing local fruits and vegetables into school cafeterias. Buy Harvest blend >