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Here Today, GHANA Tomorrow

By Dannie Danger

As a bicycle messenger, I first learned to fix bikes from volunteer mechanics at the Working Bikes Cooperative largely out of personal necessity.   Chatting with the mechanics while standing-by waiting for work, I started to learn about the co-op worked and we started meeting up at random places to help each other find bike tools, parts and learn from each other.   They were first to show me the potential of an organization like Working Bikes Co-op as well as giving me practical advice on how to survive biking winters in Chicago.

The Working Bikes Co-op was started by Lee Ravenscroft, who saw possibilities where other saw trash.   He notice that large numbers of bikes were being thrown away everyday in Chicago alleyways and he co-opted a system for rescuing & fixing up these bikes to put low cost road bikes in the hands of Chicagoans.   The program promotes cycling and recycling and at the same time, is a way to support another project: paying to ship mountain bikes to developing countries and get them into the hands of people who need them.   Ravenscroft realized that Chicago was an ideal place for such a project because its flat terrain impedes a demand for the mountain bikes that are needed elsewhere in the world.

On July 30th of this year, Working Bikes Cooperative packed 500 bicycles, tools, and boxes of medical journals to the Asente-Akim Community Telecenter in Patrensia, Ghana. This shipment marks a total of over 4,500 bikes to Ghana since the co-op began the project.   I had an invested interest in packing this shipment though. Next month, I will meet up again with the container of bicycles to unload it and stay in Patrensia for the subsequent 149 days to take on facilitating the program. My duties will consist of helping to modify bicycles to become cargo or load carrying bikes, teaching bicycle mechanics, helping the school to become an accredited university and running the Asante-Akim shop.   Most importantly so I am told, I will be there to share what is possible with the Ghanians. Fortunately, this is something I've become quite familiar with.

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