This summer I embarked on a cycling journey across America, pedaling 4,700 miles on a bamboo bicycle handmade in Ghana. My aim was to inspire Americans to start living a happier healthier lifestyle—and each and every day I spread environmental awareness. In an extreme attempt to lead by example, I followed a set of rigorous ground rules:
- Only using electricity I created via my own solar panels
- Using water harvested from natural sources or that was going to waste
- Eating local organic unpackaged food or food that was going to waste
- Creating near zero trash
- Shopping only at businesses that are socially and environmentally responsible
And, I managed all this in 104 days:
- Plugging into only five outlets
- Not switching on a light
- Using just 160 gallons of water
- Creating a mere two pounds of trash
- Traveling via my own power save one mile on a ferry into New York City
- And, swearing only nine times
Upon my return to San Diego in late August, I intended to continue using my bike to spread health and happiness to my fellow Americans. But that all changed on a Friday night, when I was craving some Ben and Jerry's ice cream. I popped into a grocery store to quickly get my fix and the bike was gone when I returned moments later. My heart immediately sank deep into my stomach.
Nearly anyone who has had their bike stolen will tell you it feels horrible, like they’ve been violated. It hurt, but I knew that if I had any chance of getting it back I had to take immediate action. I did some detective work, filed a police report, and accepted the scenario for what it was. Within the hour, I decided to make the absolute best of this situation and used this stolen bike to create good for others. But first I needed to sleep.
I awoke in the morning excited to spring into action. In a big social media push, I promised that if my bike was returned to me I'd cycle across the U.S. on it again, but this time to spread goodness all over the country. I'd do good in every city I passed through and get others to do good all over America with me. The story went viral and the local news even did a story on it. I was sure the bike would come home to me.
Weeks passed but there was no sign of the bike. It didn't hinder my desire to spread goodness, though. The first thing I did was organize a community bike ride called Spreading Goodness and Planting Seeds by Bicycles. I purchased $300 worth of wildflower and vegetable seeds that would provide food for bees, food for humans, and beauty for everyone in the city of San Diego. More than 40 people turned up for the ride and we planted flowers all over the city of San Diego on our 15-mile day of fun. Plus, we planted a ton of veggies at our local Woman's Club.
Next I hired someone to fix up the six community bikes I had in my back yard. I had started a community bike program in the summer of 2012, but many of the bikes were not functional and needed to be repaired. The green rides are all tuned up now and available for anyone in my community to use—free of charge.
Thirdly, I purchased bikes for a couple of people that I wanted to see riding more. I'm still purchasing a few more so if you would benefit from a bike and can find a used one for around $100, let me know and perhaps I'll buy it for you. You have to promise to use it a lot and to teach others the benefits of riding vs. driving.
Now about a month has passed and the bike still hasn't returned. Already so much goodness has come from the stolen bike and this is only just the beginning. So what's next? Well, The Do Good Tour, of course.
I'm cycling from San Francisco to San Diego doing good and inspiring others to do good too. You'll find me on this 650-mile tour:
- Planting flowers and veggies
- Holding a "Free Hugs" sign through crowds of people
- Feeding people on the streets
- Passing out fresh fruit
- Picking up trash
- Volunteering at nonprofits and doing whatever good things I can get myself into
How can you get involved?
- Come do good with me!: I invite you to join me on the road or in your city. Join in on one of my do good activities or come up with one for us to do together. If you're elsewhere you can follow the journey online, do good yourself, and inspire your peers to do good with you. My tour will take me from Berkeley to San Diego, with numerous stops along the way (full schedule here).
- Come ride with me! Find me on the road and ride with me between destinations or while I'm in your city.
- Host me at your place! I support a sharing economy. It's good for the environment and saves us all a lot of money. I'll need a place to rest after days of riding and doing good and I'll need friends to keep me inspired.
- Host a Stamp Stampede party! I am putting on seven stamping parties to #GetMoneyOut of politics. I'm not a political guy at all, but all the money in politics is clouding our leaders' minds and making it hard for them to keep their sights on what is important, like health, the natural environment, and education. At the parties, we'll stamp dollars with phrases such as "Not to be used for bribing politicians" to spread the message and help get Americans activated. This is a campaign by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben and Jerry's so of course there will be free ice cream at the parties. I'll bring the stamps and the ice cream so all I need from you is to host it in your home or coffee shop (or wherever) and invite your friends and community! More information about the campaign can be found at www.StampStampede.org.
Wherever you are, join me in doing good for the earth, your community, and yourself! You can contact me by email me at DoGood [at] GreenfieldAdventures [dot] org
And remember the next time something bad happens to you, it’s up to you to decide how you’ll let circumstances, good or bad, affect your life. Change your perspective and you’ll change your world.Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.