by Mark Braun
I've just awoken, and I’m beginning to wade through all the many feelings summoned by the events of the last two weeks. Yesterday was strong affirmation that the heart of our project is strong, and means different things to different people. When I first began to envision this, even some of my best friends looked at me with tilted heads, and bemused expressions; what are you doing, why and how?
Like all individuals, our project is unique, and can be appreciated and used to different ends at different times. We can be a legitimate fundraising platform, an unusual oracle expressing the needs of passionate organizations, or a circus that unfolds before you in an urban camp, as happened to some dozen souls yesterday on Detroit's near east side.
Whatever we are, and want to become, all of us who pedaled across the state these last two weeks are enriched, and satisfied in ways that are hard to describe. We've loved every part of it, the interminable, grinding rides, the chance to play music together every day, and the times spent with the people we've partnered with or just met along our route. It's all been so uplifting, a casual conversation about it doesn't do it justice, I think I'll have to let it percolate a bit to savor it completely.
This is just a bike ride, right? Why the need for hyperbole? No, it wasn't just a bike ride, and exaggeration isn't really possible in explaining the reactions we saw people experience as we did what we did, both for, and with them.
Yesterday we saw the best of the city, 60 people or so, mostly younger folks, rode with us for an hour and a half throughout the city. We passed a kind of third world "camp" of folks, one of whom came and danced like a dervish while we played a tune on the street nearby, dropping his steak knife to the pavement.
We rode through the always amazing Heidelberg Project, and were surprised and pleased to see its creator, Tyree Guyton present. Sadly, he wasn't as pleased to see us. I was dismayed that our presence was more a bother to him than I would have thought. He suggested we warn him next time we visit, it never occurred to me we should, he suggested we owe him that respect.
We did block one or two cars for a minute or two at most until we pulled to the side, our mass seemed to be problematic, maybe we violated some protocol I'm unaware of, I'll have to ponder that a bit and see if I missed something. I really thought we were paying our respect by making the visit and savoring his creations ...
Soon after, we visited Earthworks (a non-profit urban garden co-op), the Community Bike Shop, and the Hub (nonprofit bike shops, supplying kids skills and bikes). The group was great, many groups within the larger group, all of them concerned people trying to effect a positive change in their city. We loved being a part of it, to think that a piano on a bike could ignite a small rally, wow ...
Since I started this entry, I stepped away to attend a meeting of people organizing one of our upcoming fundraisers. We'll need to raise a lot of money in order to set out on next year’s trip, a 1,750 mile adventure along the entire length of the Mississippi River is in our sites, from Sept. 1 to Dec.1, ending in New Orleans. We'll be taking the music back home, a reverse migration of jazz and blues. I'm excited and a little daunted at the task ahead of us.
It will be real interesting to see how people will relate to us where we are unknown. There are a ton of logistical problems to be solved, it will require a once in a lifetime commitment by ourselves and our families.
I intend to keep those of you that are interested in the loop by continuing to blog at joyboxexpress.com and here at metrotimes.com. Please stay in touch with us, and please like us on Facebook. We’ll also be tweeting, and generally exploring every avenue we can to succeed in keeping you informed and gathering your support, both fiscally and spiritually.
Thanks to all of you, and we hope to see you again soon ...