A class project at Southwestern has evolved into an initiative that could encourage people in Georgetown to rethink transportation and conservation.

As part of a new course titled Introduction to Sustainability, students were asked to participate in a project that would get them thinking about ways of living that are more sustainable. One group of students decided to form a bike collective that would teach bike repair and give refurnished bikes to people who need one, paying in work-trade rather than money.

The students have spent the year fixing up a shed located at 1205 Maple Street to serve as a home for the collective, which they have named it the Giracion Bike Collective. Giracion refers to the revolution of a wheel and its gears, but can also refer to a literal revolution or change.

“Starting the bike collective this semester has been a great experience,” said Sarah Reesor, a junior studio art major who is one of 10 students involved with the project. “I have met new people, learned a lot about bikes, and it has been really rewarding to see the project develop into something we hope will be able to benefit many people as well as bring Southwestern and the Georgetown community closer together.”

Reesor said Giracion will accept donated bicycles in any condition, and will either repair them or use them for parts. One source of bikes is those that have been abandoned on campus. “If no one comes to claim a bike at the Police Department after a semester, they give it to us,” she said.

The collective also teaches bike safety and repair to anyone who is interested. Already, the collective has hosted three groups of 7th and 8th grade students from the Operation Achievement Program sponsored by Southwestern.

“The vast majority of those students did not have bikes of their own,” said Ansa Copeland, a civic engagement specialist who has been serving as faculty advisor to students in the sustainability class.

The bike collective obtained $2,500 in start-up funds from a $50,000 “Vision Grant” Southwestern received from the 3M Foundation. The purpose of the grant was to support projects related to the San Gabriel River Trail. Giracion has received additional donations from local businesses and bike shops.

“We hope the bike collective will support the trail by encouraging people to use it and get out more,” Copeland said. She also hopes the bike collective will change the way people think about transportation.

“Perhaps they will consider bikes more when thinking about how to get from one place to another,” she said. Copeland added that she hopes the project will encourage reusing bikes, as well as other material goods.

The Giracion is holding an open house on Saturday, May 3rd from 1 – 4 p.m. Students and members of the community are invited to come enjoy refreshments, music and a tour of the shop.

Copeland said she hopes the shop will have regular hours beginning in the fall.

For more information on the bike collective or the open house, call 512-863-1215.


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