For the Environment: an examination of our stated purpose / 06.12.12

“We are biking for peace, simplicity, and the environment

Our actions and decisions affect the world in which we live.

A couple weeks ago in Selcuk, Turkey (where ancient Ephesus is located) we found ourselves riding in a car. Riding in a car is a strange experience after spending so much time on a bike. The tug and resistance that hills offer to a biker’s muscles become little more than a little revving and lugging of the engine in a car. Our speed is barely checked as we whiz up mountain curves! And the speed itself is a bit dizzying, after finding a comfortable 20 km/hr pace (12 mph) to be normal. (Okay, downhill once we did hit 70.4 km/h (43 mph), but that is probably not recommended). So cars are sort of an exotic, new experience all over again. But this was no ordinary car. This was Falco’s car.

We were staying at Falco’s Place, and he was a frugal businessman who balanced his big heart with a hawk’s business instinct. (Hawks are ruthless in the boardroom). And he drove like a hawk would drive, if it could. He would zip in between cars, go down the wrong way for 200 meters to pull a quick U-turn, slam on the breaks, and squeeze impossibly between traffic and pedestrians at un-recommended speeds. When I first got in to Falco’s car, I reached for the seatbelt and found it wasn’t there. I noticed Kallie didn’t have one either. I looked at Falco, who looked slightly apologetic. I said, “No problem”; I didn’t feel it though. Of course, we were fine (and slightly exhilarated) by the end of the ride. I actually don’t remember most of it. What I do remember is cruising over the mountain passes and curves toward the coastal town of Kuşadası and listening to Falco:
“All of this used to be olive trees. Ten years ago, it was all olive trees. Now, hotels… high rises… casinos.”
It was true, the hills were full of new storied buildings as we approached the coast. Occasionally we caught a patch of olive trees among the high painted forests of concrete and glass.
“Why?” I asked him.
“So many people coming,” he replied.

I remember one of our hosts telling us that olive trees usually don’t produce good olives for awhile. In fact, the older the trees the better the olives–and olive trees live hundreds, even thousands of years. If you plant olive trees, you are planting for your children or grandchildren.


Olive tree in Greece

I also remember some of the buildings we saw along the coast–they looked empty and many of them run down. We were traveling in the off season, but it was sad to see buildings that looked like they were no more than ten years old with gaping holes in the roof and overgrown with weeds. Or vacant most of the year until tourist season.

So many people coming.

Both olive orchards and high rises are results of humans affecting the world. But I felt a sadness and a nostalgia for the trees I’d never seen. Falco seemed to be sad too, and that helped me understand that just because he was a business man didn’t mean he liked buildings more than shady groves.

People like olive oil; people also like nice places to stay with beautiful sea views. (What people NEED would be a more involved discussion). But this isn’t a rant against real estate. It’s just noticing something we already know, but noticing it in a new place under different circumstances. People affect the world. How we affect the world is a matter of our choices and decisions.

In Kuşadası I would have rather seen olive trees than hotels. But that is not where I have my influence primarily so I must let the people of that place decide what world they would like to shape for themselves. Wherever I do have influence, however, I hope to help shape a world that is closer to creation’s original goodness, a world I would be excited to show my great grandchildren.

Biking for the environment is part of Fueled By Rice. After all, we came up with the name “Fueled By Rice” because we aren’t fueled by petroleum (also because our first trip had us biking through Asia first, where rice is the staple). However, we didn’t choose to do this cycle journey in order to raise awareness about the negative effects of an oil economy… We’re doing this cycle journey because we want to travel and see the world; but one of the reasons we are doing this traveling by bicycle is because we have noticed some negative effects of a society dependent on oil, and we hope to posture ourselves away from those effects. We dream of a different world, a world with less pollution, less noise, and less resource conflict.

Riding a bicycle is a small way to live toward that dream. There are many ways to contribute, large and small, but the point is that we are choosing and deciding to live toward the vision we would like to live–the world as we would like to see it. Of course, I’m still going to drive cars and take hot showers and turn on the AC… but I’m going to do it aware that these decisions do have their costs and effects, and I hope that will mediate some of my tendencies toward excess.

I believe we are caretakers of this earth, and we have the enormous responsibility to protect and shape our natural world. And as a member of the Fueled By Rice team, I want to offer my part to shape the living world in a way that is sensitive, caring, and nurturing. I think in this way I can say with integrity: “I am biking for the environment.”

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One Comment

  1. Netzy said on January 8, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Thank you for giving well thought out food for my personal reflections. Happy day and carry on safely!

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