South Dakota Tech News
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May 10, 2005
Contact: Steve Buchholz, Public Information Manager, 394-6082
School of Mines Student To Bike and Build
If School of Mines civil engineering master’s student Brian Phillips were to write an essay next fall entitled, “What I Did on My Summer Break,” it most certainly wouldn’t be filled with leisurely tales of days at the beach.
Instead, it would tell about traveling across the United States and into Canada. It would speak of daily feats of athleticism. And it would tell of working tirelessly for a cause — increasing awareness of affordable housing efforts in hopes of putting an end to poverty housing. How could all of these things — the travels, the athletic endeavors, the total commitment to low-income housing — happen simultaneously over just one summer?
The answer is Bike and Build 2005.
Phillips was an undergrad at Ohio Northern University when he first heard about Bike and Build. “I just had an overwhelming feeling that it was something I needed to do,” he said.
Brian Phillips is one of more than 100 student-aged participants who will travel by bicycle on one of four different routes visiting 34 states and one province during Bike and Build 2005. The 32 riders in Phillip’s group will leave Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on June 16 and travel 3,859 miles in 56 days before reaching their end destination of Vancouver, British Columbia, on August 20.
Bike and Build, an independent nonprofit organization, has been in existence for just a few years, but with word spreading about the great work being done, the group is quickly gaining popularity. The organization is set up to direct funds, volunteers, and community and media attention to affordable housing efforts.
According to the Bike and Build website, young riders who participate are committed to “pedaling to end poverty housing” through fund raising and cycling. The group’s “events act as a catalyst to build homes, foster the spirit of service, and empower young adults…mile by mile, house by house.”
The young individuals who participate must be committed, not just to biking, but also to raising awareness of affordable housing. In fact, if student riders do not raise the mandatory minimum of $4,000 in contributions to support Bike and Build, they are not allowed to participate in the ride.
Phillips estimates that he will need to raise approximately $5,500 in order to make the trip. This includes his $4,000 contribution to Bike and Build, his incidental expenses along the way, plus larger expenses like airfare back from Vancouver.
“Classes start the week after the Bike and Build ends, so I don’t think I’d have enough time to pedal all the way back home,” Phillips said.
So far, Phillips has raised just under half of the $4,000 minimum contribution.
The $4,000 contribution per rider is largely used as funding to help Bike and Build further its mission by funding affordable housing projects. Some funding is distributed en route in communities where the riders are passing through. Others grants are awarded by the riders themselves through a competitive screening process to select housing groups that have completed a grant application. Since its inception, Bike and Build has distributed $229,875 in funding to low income housing organizations.
���Riders are not just involved in the biking and the building. We also participate in determining what groups are most worthy of receiving grant dollars from Bike and Build,” he said.
Skill levels of the cyclists on day one range from beginner to expert, and riders will pedal an average of 70 miles per day. The highest single-day mileage comes after 30 days of riding when the group will pedal 123 miles from Crookston, Minnesota, to Devil’s Lake, North Dakota.
In order to prepare, Phillips has been cycling six days per week. “I’ve always been involved in athletics, but I’ve only been biking for three years. The key is daily training,” Phillips said with confidence, “but the reason behind the trip will be my motivation on the most difficult days.”
Once they arrive at their resting point each evening, Phillips said the group will “make as much noise” and “raise as much awareness as possible.” Riders are expected to speak with town residents about their summer, the Bike and Build program, and housing issues. They may hold town-hall style forums, conduct bike clinics for youth in the area, or make a presentation of a grant to a local organization that supports affordable housing. Riders do all of this before turning in for an evening of rest before getting back on their bikes again the next day.
“The goal is to involve the community as much as possible, and we’ll make presentations to anyone who will listen,” he said. “The more press coverage and events we have at each stop, the happier we’ll be.” Bike and Build arranges hosts –local churches, schools, or community centers—for most evenings. However, riders do carry sleeping bags and tents and plan to camp out for a number of nights, especially when they travel through national parks.
Arranging all the publicity and host sites takes coordination before the trip even begins, and this is also something that Phillips knows all about. In addition to being a participant and rider, Phillips is also one of four trip coordinators.
“As one of the coordinators, I plan parts of the route, call ahead to arrange for hosts, and try to create as much pre-hype publicity as possible so that we can make a big bang at every location,” he said.
Coordinators also plan a few predetermined ���build days” along the course when riders hang up their helmets for hammers. On these build days, the group takes the day off riding and assists a local housing organization in the construction of an affordable home
In addition to being a welcome break from cycling, build days give riders a chance to be hands-on with local affordable housing projects and reinforce the mission of Bike and Build. According to the Bike and Build website, groups will contribute over 200 labor hours at each site and will see how much of a difference they can make in just one day.
After Bike and Build 2005 is over, Phillips will return to the School of Mines to finish his graduate degree in civil engineering. “I know two things for sure,” said Phillips. “I’ll be a seasoned cyclist. And without a doubt, I’ll be an even greater advocate for affordable housing initiatives across the country.”
For more information about Bike and Build or helping Brian Phillips fund his trip, please contact the SDSM&T Foundation at email@example.com or (800) 211-7591 or Brian Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Devereaux Library. South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.