Working Bikes Goes Green, Appears at the Chicago Green Festival


Working Bikes joined hundreds of “green” organizations this past weekend at Chicago’s annual Green Festival. The festival, held at Navy Pier on May 18th and 19th, featured speakers, performers, DIY workshops, a vegetarian food court, and a Green Marketplace with businesses selling natural and sustainable products. We spent the festival sharing ideas with local organizations, businesses, and individuals, many of whom hoped to donate bikes or time to Working Bikes in the future. (Thanks!) We brought along three of our kid-and-crowd-pleasing bike machines—bike generators that power a record player, a water pump, or a drill that spins a globe. As always the bike machines were a lot of fun, although some visitors (particularly parents) were sorry to learn that we could not sell them a bike generator to power their TV.

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This year we also had the thrill of being finalists for the Ford Community Green Grant, a $5,000 grant given to a Chicago-area nonprofit to fund a project that will improve the environment or quality of life in their community. Working Bikes proposed to refurbish 50 donated bicycles that would be gifted to nonprofit partners in Chicago, and to develop educational programming that would enhance the capacity of at least 20 volunteers to refurbish bicycles. Our fellow finalists were the Arthur Ashe Park Advisory Council/Friends of the Parks, Friends of the Chicago River, the Institute of Cultural Affairs, and the Greater Chicago Food Depository. To read more about these organizations and their proposals, check out the Green Festival’s Green Grant webpage.

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In total more than 4,000 votes were cast, and the winner is… the Institute of Cultural Affairs! Congratulations to them and our other co-finalists. We enjoyed getting to know these great organizations over the weekend, and look forward to seeing the rooftop garden the I.C.A. plans to build with its grant.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to speak with us and vote for us. Thank you to Ford for their generosity and for selecting us as finalists. Thanks also to the Green Festival for inviting us back this year—we had a great time! And finally, a big big thank you to all of the Working Bikes volunteers who helped out!