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News :: Education : Environment : Organizing : Social Welfare
Bikes not Bombs looking for a new home
26 Aug 2005
JAMAICA PLAIN.—Keeping the enormous steel thicket of bicycles, at 59 Amory St. organized and manageable is a tall enough task for Bikes Not Bombs' (BNB) industrious volunteers, yet founder Carl Kurz and his bike mechanic cadres now face an even bigger challenge. Moving.

The organization has been a tenant-at-will for over two years. Only a few other possibilities for a home have presented themselves since then, none were perfectly matched. Without a lease, members of the group worry that the building may be sold or the owners may decide to renovate.

“We’re part of the fabric of JP that people love,” said Kurz, “if we move too far out we won’t be able to attract the same numbers of people and the same support, so it’s a tough problem.”
[Reprinted to Indymedia by the author courtesy of the Jamaica Plain Gazette]

BNB began in the early 80’s when a group of bike shop employees began shipping used bicycle parts to small cooperative bike shops in Nicaragua. Today they have shipped over 22,000 bikes to locations all over the global south that need affordable transportation.

The group has taught over 1600 children bicycle safety tailored to the streets of Boston, instructed around 700 in the art of bicyle repair, and instituted many other youth groups such as the Girls Action Initiative to help boost girls’ participation in the program. Kurz and crew are looking for spaces in Dorchester, Roxbury and Allston. Only one possible location is in JP so far.

The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation is offering a space that may suit their needs at the Haffenreffer Brewery, but rent and heating costs would equal well over double what the group currently pays.

A more pressing problem for the group is the impending loss of 1,500 square feet of bike storage space in the basement of the building.

Originally, bikes set aside for shipping to countries in the global south were stored in a trailer outside the building. After the city’s Inspectional Services Department levied fines for violations related to the trailer, landlords M & S Realty Trust (MSRT) asked for the trailer to be removed and offered the basement as an alternative. Now MSRT is asking the group to vacate the basement space by Sept. 15.

“I’m trying to organize a shipment to either Guatemala or El Salvador,” said founder Carl Kurz, “but there are all these little things you have to do to set up something like this, normally it takes one or two months.”

Once the basement is emptied, the group may temporarily discourage bicycle donations.

“If you know anybody who has or knows about a 3,000-4,000 square foot space with a retail store front,” said Kurz, “let us know.”

This work is in the public domain.
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Re: Bikes not Bombs looking for a new home
28 Aug 2005
to any BNB member who might be reading this:

let me recommend that you guys contact the tv show 'chronicle,' which runs a charitable organization (i think called "CommonWealth") that supports causes like yours). they ran a piece on chronicle the other day about a woman who collects toys and necessaries to date to foster kids. the woman running it was so successful that she ran out of space to hold the stuff to donate to kids. within days after the story ran, she was given free space to keep it. call channel 5 - see if they'll run a piece on your organization!
Re: Bikes not Bombs looking for a new home
30 Aug 2005
If they are "part of the fabric of JP that people love", why can't they rustle up some donated funding from said fans?
Re: Bikes not Bombs looking for a new home
31 Aug 2005
May or may not have something to do with the fact that said fans don't have the funds to donate as they are working class???
Re: Bikes not Bombs looking for a new home
31 Aug 2005
BNB does get a fair number of donations, but rent in this town for a 4,000 sq. ft. store front space is astronomical.

The key for them, I believe, is finding a spot cheap enough to be sustainable in the long term.
Re: Bikes not Bombs looking for a new home
03 Sep 2005
why do they require store front? i'm sure they coulud get a donation of some warehouse space but people that own storefronts have to do stuff like pay big taxes on it and have to have big insurance in case a person walks in off the street and gets hurt. warehouse space is way more affordable and beggars can't be choosers.
Re: Bikes not Bombs looking for a new home
04 Sep 2005
I don't mean retail storefront, I just mean accessible to the street, my fault. The point being you can't haul bikes up five flights of stairs. The place they are looking at in JP is in the Brewery, much like a warehouse space.
Re: Bikes not Bombs looking for a new home
04 Sep 2005
pete - i don't know if you're a member of BNB, or directly in contact with them...if so, let me suggest calling the TV show "chronicle." channel 5 has a program called "commonwealth" where they feature community-service organizations and they help fund them. i posted this once before, but i recently saw a story on chronicle about a woman who was taking donations to give to foster kids (who are apparently often not given things beyond the bare necessities) and the woman was so successful that she ran out of space in her basement to keep the donations. through the commonwealth program, they were able to get her free warehouse space.
Re: Bikes not Bombs looking for a new home
13 Sep 2005
I was wondering why Pete Stidman's pretentious articles always happen to get chosen for the Boston Indymedia front page? And this one is a reprint he sold to another paper! There's plenty of good writers who post to Indymedia who never get put on the main column. Maybe it's because he took over the foundation and made it a platform for self promotion. The "global south" -- what a boring PC jerk. You could just say "Central America," or "the developing world," or "Third World shitholes," Pete.
Re: Bikes not Bombs looking for a new home
28 May 2006
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