Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Project Homeless Connect in Richmond

This is a great organization that we worked with last year. I couldn't make the event, but Ward and a friend went and said they were able to give away a bunch of books and fix some bikes for some folks.

"Project Homeless Connect matches clients with volunteers in a one-of-a-kind partnership to assist chronically homeless adults connect to as many on-site services as possible in one day.
To do this more than 40 service providers move their operations to a single location for a day, providing dedicated healthcare, dental and vision screenings, mental health interviews, case management, social security applications, identification services, employment resources (including for veterans), shelter and housing assessments, and much more. Volunteers are trained to assist clients navigate the array of services based upon priorities established by the client. The goal for the event, and its high level of volunteer involvement, is to eliminate some of the barriers people experience as they seek to access the very services that might help them start the return journey to stable lives."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Shameless Self-Promotion

Since my camera is dead I can't take my own photos, and Books on Wheels has been kinda quite for a few months, my stories are minimal and my pictures borrowed for now, so I have moved onto Shameless Self-Promotion just to put something up here every few weeks or so. Erin and I were featured in Style Weekly last week, and Books on Wheels is mentioned, so since I'm running low on material and blogging can be narcissistic sometimes anyways (that's a joke if anyone is offended), here's the article:

Erin and Shelley Briggs, 26
Owner, Richmond ReCycles
Pharmacist, Kroger

Community Activist and Co-Founder
Books on Wheels

Yes, they do have a bicycle built for two, and yes, they have been known to ride together, but twin sisters Erin and Shelley Briggs have found divergent paths to bring their twin passions for community and bicycling to life.

The sisters came to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, pursuing very different educational goals — Shelley for social work, Erin for pharmacy — and found a shared hobby in bicycling. Living in the Fan, Erin says, bikes presented “the easiest way to get around Richmond.”

For Erin, transportation had become a passion and a way of raising awareness — first with a 2005 fundraiser promoting breast cancer awareness. Then she founded a nonprofit and opened a bike shop with partner Evan Venditti. The shop, Richmond ReCycles, focuses both on returning old bikes to new and on teaching riders how to keep their bikes on the road.

Not to be outdone, Shelley took a slightly different route on her bike but still ended up doing wheelies around the basic theme of community service.

A co-founder of Books on Wheels (with previous Top 40 recipient Ward Tefft), Shelley and her partner rev up a beater-school-bus-turned-mobile-community-outreach-project and take their show on the road, getting bikes to low-income people and teaching them basic mechanics to keep them going. The point, Shelley says, is to help people whose most basic need is transportation to get to and from work.

“Bikes — for a lot of people it’s their only way to get around,” Shelley says. “It’s very empowering to be able to fix things on your own.”

Though they do their own things, the sisters’ interests and public-service projects sometimes become a tandem affair. Erin recently traveled to New Orleans on a Books-on-Wheels bus mission. And when Shelley needs parts to put used bikes back on the road to usefulness, she goes straight to Erin for help.

“Richmond as a whole and our tight-knit friends has really influenced what we’re doing now,” Erin says. “It’s a matter of what you like to do and how far you think you can take it — and making sure it’s really fun.”

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bicycle Repair Workshop at the Richmond Zine Fest

Located the the Gay Community Center next to Diversity Thrift, the Richmond Zine Fest is next weekend, held on October 11th from 11-5 pm. I will be teaching a bicycle repair workshop on anything that anyone is interested in, so show up with your bikes and/or questions!! This will be fun!!


Books on Wheels on VCU TV

Our friend Alex produced this show on VCU TV about Chop Suey Books, and he was also nice enough to do a section of the episode on Books on Wheels. Check it out here:

- Shelley