At Trips for Kids Charlotte and the Charlotte Re-Cyclery, refurbishing and re-purposing is second nature to us. Our entire organization operates based off the Circular Economy model, where we take in donated and discarded bicycles, bike parts, and accessories, and breathe new life into them...putting them back out into the community as avenues of transportation, recreation and wellness. This allows us to generate the funds to support all of our community and youth cycling initiatives and programming, all while making quality bicycle access and affordable repairs available to Charlotte.
Pictured: Retired bike parts, filled with creative potential
Recently, we were asked to further our partnership with the Charlotte Innovation Barn, an EPIC circular economy and community hub located at 932 Seigle Ave in Charlotte, North Carolina. For the past couple of years, we've been meeting at their event space on the first Saturday of every month, engaging community members in education and community service through our Bike Break Down events. During these events, donated and discarded bicycles beyond (safe) repair are broken down to the bare frame. We harvest whatever parts are of good quality and can be re-used within our programs, and recycle whatever we can't safely re-use. In doing this, we're able to divert approximately 75,000 pounds of bike material "waste" from our local landfills annually. It's pretty incredible, really. That's A LOT of pounds. During this process, community members receive education on the construction of a bike, learn how to use common bike tools, and are given the opportunity for hands on, low stakes bike mechanics practice (because hey, you can't break what's already broken!).
Pictured: Trips for Kids Ride Coordinator, Martin, teaching Bike Break Down participants how to remove a tire from a wheel.
Our monthly Bike Break Down events became so popular, that the Charlotte Innovation Barn asked us if we would be willing to host more events and workshops in their community space, as part of their Circular Saturday series. Our answer? ABSOLUTELY. Ya'll know how small and cramped our current shop in NoDa is, and our new location (8, 773 sq. ft of glorious warehouse space) isn't quite ready for the public just yet. Though honestly, even aside from our current space constraints, we just really, really love partnering with other organizations whose missions align with ours. Not to mention... the Charlotte Innovation Barn just welcomed the addition of a coffee shop: Change, Please (the first one to land in the US!), officially tying together a few of the things we love most: community, collaboration...and COFFEE. Yep...count us in!
In a day and age when things that are broken are quickly discarded (bikes included!), we recognize the value in, and have SO much appreciation for, turning "one person's trash" into "another person's treasure." And we love teaming up with people and organizations who are equally as passionate about re-use as we are! This leads us to....
Pictured: Bike p(ART) participants, creating stars and hearts from retired bike chains (and learning how to use a chain tool in the process!)
Cue our NEW bike p(ART) workshop series! Many of you are already familiar with the incredible talent and creativity of our mechanics team at the Charlotte Re-Cyclery...it's apparent from the moment you walk into our little community bike shop. Handlebars and stems are repurposed into awesome window art, creatures made of nuts and bolts and cranksets come to life. We have repurposed signs from old chains, stools from bike frames and saddles...and our wheely cool snowman is the happiest shop greeter during the winter months. Our crew thrives on finding cool ways to re-use and re-purpose basically anything, but bike parts especially. This new workshop series put on by Trips for Kids Charlotte and hosted at the Charlotte Innovation Barn gives our community the opportunity to take part in the fun, and realize just how easy it can be to re-purpose old and retired bike parts (it wouldn't be ethical to keep this knowledge all to ourselves!).
Pictured: Charlotte Re-Cyclery mechanic Andy (and our resident reminder of "kindness, please!"), poses in his holiday attire next to our up-cycled snowman greeter.
On Saturday, March 18th, over a dozen community members joined us at the Innovation Barn to create really, really cool art/creatures/decor/gifts/wind chimes... with only a few simple tools, and a ton of old bike parts. The result? Inspiring creativity. Community connection. The satisfaction of turning "old" into "new", while getting practice using bike tools like chain breakers, multi-tools, allen wrenches, and more. All of this, while actively learning the benefits and importance of re-use. It was really special hold space for our community in this way, and we're already counting down the days until our next Bike p(ART) workshop on May 13th.
Pictured: Longtime TFKC and Charlotte Re-Cyclery volunteer, Monica, displays her up-cycled wind chime
Interested in joining us next time? To learn more and to register for this FREE event, head to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bike-part-upcycled-bike-part-art-tickets-559703246477 .
P.S While you're there, give us a follow on Event Brite to stay up to date with all of our upcoming events, rides, classes, and workshops! The more the merrier, and we really love creating, learning, riding, and wrenchin' together with you.