Meet Jacob Seigel-Boettner. He came home from the hospital on a bicycle and has been lovin’ two wheels ever since.
We met Jacob at our Santa Barbara Tail Care Crew visit. It goes without saying – he’s most certainly a bicycle person. After spending time with him in SB we also found out that he’s an awesome mountain biker and one fantastic rolling grade dip builder
What does the bicycle mean to you?
That is a tough question with a long answer. My parents, both school teachers have led bike trips with their students since before my brother Isaac and I were born. They brought us both home from the hospital in bike trailers. Our family summer vacations were always bike trips with their students all around the world. Growing up, the bicycle was always just this really cool toy that my brother Isaac and I would sometimes get under the Christmas tree. Two wheels allowed us to see the world…
I didn’t fully understand the impact that the bicycle could have for those without access to motorized transportation until college when I spent a semester in Rwanda working for Project Rwanda, an organization that developed and distributed specially-designed cargo bikes to coffee farmers. Just seeing the sheer number of ways that people used their bikes in Rwanda was an eye opener. I saw bikes loaded down with dozens of chickens, huge stacks of jerry cans, piles of firewood, entire families. It definitely made me realize how much I had taken the bike for granted, and the potential that two wheels could have around the world.
With both of those perspectives now coming into focus, I think that I now see the bike as, to quote one of my professors at Cal, a “transformative agent,” that is, a tool that can fundamentally alter social and economic structures from the inside out.
In the U.S., the bike can not only help us remodel our modern transportation systems, but it can also fundamentally alter the way in which people interact with their communities and the world around them. I saw this quote a while back: “my bicycle takes me places that school never could.” Not to devalue a classroom education, but getting out there and exploring the world by bike can expose a child (and an adult!) to sights, sounds, experiences, teachers, and connections that can’t be found in the classroom – and are often lost in this day and age where we are often separated from the world around us by technology. The bike can also break down a lot of the barriers between people. Just look at Bici Centro in Santa Barbara, one of the organizations featured in the film. I can’t name another place in SB where you have people of so many different ages, economic backgrounds, and ethnic backgrounds come together in one place; ex-gang members working side-by-side with (and often teaching) lawyers and college students. All because of the bike.
In the developing world, the transformative agency is a bit more obvious. There are all of these great development projects out there that are building schools, hospitals, community centers, etc. Which is awesome. There is definitely a need for these types of services. However, a new school doesn’t do any good if Fred or Bharati live 10 miles away. The bike can fundamentally alter the way that both people in developing countries and those in charge of government or NGO infrastructure projects think about transportation and mobility. It shrinks distances in a very environmentally friendly manner.
In a very sneaky way, it also helps bring things full circle. Audience members at all of our screenings thus far have been amazed by the numerous ways in which people rely on and use bicycles around the world. I have lost track of the number of people who have come up to me after screenings and said something like, “Seeing how Fred, Bharati, and the rest of the characters use their bikes on a day-to-day basis has really made me think about how much more I could be using my bike! My work (or school) isn’t that far away. Maybe should ride my bike more!” Bingo.
A true transformative agent works to change a structure from within starting with the individual. That is the bike in a nutshell.
More information about the film: http://www.withmyowntwowheels.org
Find a screening near you.