Saturday, January 23

Riding with Purpose and other news...

I continue to struggle to get it together! I am contemplating some tough decisions regarding work, decisions that will either free me up significantly and leave me with the time I need to get some projectS underway; or, decisions that will restrict my ability to do some of the things I love doing. Either way, I’ve got to make some changes...

I have embarked on a couple of documentary photography projects, which I’m planning to use as a entry to teaching visual sociology. The first project involves documentary style photographs of grandparents rearing grandchildren. I will spend some time with them, conduct interviews and put the narratives and images together. The second project is motorcycle related! It focuses on photographing and interviewing women solo riders. I would travel around to meet the women and spend time engaged in ethnographic, “interviews as conversations.” The women must be solo riders and hopefully they are LD (long distance) riders too. I am quite excited about both of these projects.

I also have a third project in mind and would like the readers feedback on it. I have been thinking about riding with purpose. I am finishing up a book by Nicholas D. Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, called Half the Sky. I recommend it to anyone. But prepare to be transformed. It is not an easy read but it is a necessary one in my opinion. Half the Sky is about many things; mostly, it is about human being’s inhumanity to each other. In some ways, it is a depressing read, but the book is replete with hope. It deals with violence against women, infanticide, human trafficiking, children bought and sold into sexual slavery, acid burnings of women by scorned men. The book doesn’t just document horror stories; it balances out the horror by including amazing stories of human triumph and survival over adversity. It’s a book of action too. It lists aide organizations, charities, foundations, and programs whose great humanitarian works too often operate on slim budgets stretched to the max. The question, “What can I do?” is fully answered in this book.

The book has so moved me that I have decided to do some purposeful riding this season. This is nothing novel. Motorcycle groups do charity rides all the time. Walks, runs, bikes and hikes for breast cancer are not uncommon. Many diseases have given birth to clever organized physical exertion. I recall one of the stories of a woman living in a rural area of India or Africa who because she was far from a hospital, had to ride on a motorcycle to get to a hospital. Under normal situations, I can’t imagine a motorcycle ride that isn’t fun. But I’ve given birth. The thought of riding a motorcycle in the middle of labor makes my brain hurt as I write this. But for these woman the bike was a welcome sight. (Motorcycle transport in healthcare)


Here are three of my ideas: 1) Ride to purchase a small cc motorcycle. In some countries the easiest and least expensive way for healthcare workers to get to rural areas is via two wheels. Many women never receive prenatal care because they are unable to get to a clinic/hospital. A motorcycle will allow healthcare to come to them. (Motorcycle transport)

Ride to purchase a motorcycle ambulance. I didn’t even know such vehicles existed. I can’t imagine these being very comfortable either if you’re in active labor but it is clearly better than nothing--and it’s all relative. 3) The work of hospitals that repair obstetric fistulas needs help. Fistulas often turn women into pariahs when left unrepaired. Shunned by their communities and families, women with fistulas can die unnecessarily. Most fistulas are the result of obstructed childbirth, which is highly related to 1) and 2). (More motorcycle transport)

I have some ideas about how I can make these work, but I’m open to reader suggestions as I can probably only pull off funding one of these ideas. I’m also receptive to partnerships that include other’s doing a charity ride, so to speak, to support/donate to the charity I select. More to come... (Still more motorcycle transport)