Thank you WHYR, for having us!

IMG_1478During our stay in Baton Rouge, 3 Riders for the Future were lucky enough to be invited by WHYR Community Radio Station for an hour long interview with David Brown.

IMG_1483

Being Interviewed

WHYR is a local radio station, which operates wholly by the volunteering of local residents. It claims to be progressive, which may be a true statement to make due to their warm welcome of us riders on the show, considering our politically sensitive message. We were given a list of 10 questions before the interview to prepare. David Brown informed us that it would be set up like we were having a conversationand that it wasn’t live, this contributed significantly to the reduction of my nerves and possible anxiety. The questions David provided for us were simultaneously challenging but exciting for us to engage in. Examples include “What does it mean to be an activist and what compelled each of you to become activists when it would be so much more comfortable to just get a job and pursue your passion or other recreation?” and “How do you envision what you’re doing making any kind of a difference to the fossil fuel industry or the “oil addicted”/”drill baby drill” status quo?”. Before we worked together to answers these questions, we decided upon Ernesto Botello, Kaela Bamberger and me, Daphne Chang to be interviewed. We spent an hour brainstorming separately and then converging to share our individual responses. It was a really eye opening experiencing because we got to see, as a group, the variations in perspectives and motivations between individual participants of this program, and what we believe our approach us. It brings us to the characteristic of Ride for the Future as a program that makes it so unique, which its flexibility and the capacity for our influence to shape the program and the experience for ourselves, the participants and leaders of this journey.

Another quesiton which prompted me to learn something new was on the “precautionary principle”, something I had never heard of before Ernesto Botello, the Public Health and Health Science major educated meon the different approaches of policy of prevention versus treatment. News of the Geismar plant explosion that morning was spread all over media outlets and it was also a relevant in the context of the precautionary principle. Ernesto craftily used it as an example of how efforts of prevention could avoid the necessity of repercussions and treatment.

IMG_1498

David Brown and the Riders

After we went through adequate preparation for our interview, Ernesto, Kaela and I set off for the radio station. My first impression upon arrival was the appeal of the space the radio was held in. It was small but had a hip and casual feel to it. There were records on the walls and inspirational quotes along with the faces of influential individuals, which the quotes were taken from. So the wisdom of Bob Marley and John Lennon helped calmed my nerves as well. David Brown, our interviewer was especially great to interact with. He was friendly, hilarious, soothed our nerves, but at the same time he really engaged with us in exploring our mission as Riders for the Future. He made us value the powerful influence we our connection with our listeners have as interviewees. After all, we are here because of a strong message that we wish to spread, and how we can do that effectively, inclusively and in a manner that does not alienate or cause divisions was interesting and important to explore.

One of the themes of many that was touched upon, which was important to me and something I ponder regularly, is what activism means to the general public. I’ve been referred to as an “environmental activist” by my friends and I dislike it because they seem to say it with the intention of separating what I pursue as an interest and what they pursue. In our complex world there are varying levels and meanings of activism. You do not need to give up your job our make great sacrifices in order to be active in a cause that you truly believe is worth fighting for. As someone who is trying to fight for something and constantly interacting with people who may think the cause I’m fighting for is ridiculous or unworthy, I struggle to recognize that different people have different passions. I pursue activism and organizing because I enjoy it, but as a collective of talented individuals, we can contribute to social movements for justice in all sorts of different ways. There’s no reason why anybody can’t be an activist, or should I say, active on an issue that is asking for change not just for an individual, but for society and the common people.

-Daphne Chang

Arriving in Baton Rouge: A list of Positives

936387_4754798842712_1893710202_nI am writing this the evening of June 4th, 2013. The following are the contributions to what I now reflect on as a great morning.

1. The sun was hidden by the big fluffy clouds. 50% chance of rain but it never did, instead our team was greeted continuously by the cool breeze, which flew past us and created the illusion that we were light and purposefully speeding across the roads towards our destination. I could feel myself getting stronger as my feet relentlessly peddle. I felt the same ache in the muscles of my legs but it didn’t stop me or slow me down this time, I only wanted to go faster.

2. I managed to take wonderful pictures of my team on the road. Although what hung above us most frequently were thick blankets of cloud, occasionally they would separate and let the sun rays fall onto Baton Rouge, which enhanced all the colors that we could see: our shirts a juicy bright orange, the sky blue with a radiating calmness and the trees a lush green.

3. A happy accident. We stopped at Home Depot on our way to Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church, halting our bikes in the parking lot. A few people asked us questions, their curiosities about what a group of sweaty young adults were doing in a Home Depot parking lead to their momentary stop beside us. I never tire of the shocked reaction, the unrestrained gasp of “What?” when we tell people that we are biking to Houston. There are others that give us advice on biking on the freeways, telling us to be careful. The most memorable being “There are three kinds of drivers: Those that don’t know how to drive, those that don’t care how they drive, and those that don’t care that they don’t know how to drive.” The brief connection with these people as we tell them our purpose and the formation of a rapport as they give us their sincere opinion make up the special moments of this trip. One individual who stopped by made me feel truly lucky. As the team’s media coordinator, I’ve found the prospect of outreach quite daunting. When Othello Carter, an independent photographer of New Orleans walked up to us, with a camera slung over his shoulder, he shooed away those doubts I had, that perhaps our story wasn’t that great or significant, by asking about what we were doing and wanting to capture us with his camera.
Othello Carter is a talented photographer, you can check out his amazing work at http://www.othellocarter.com

All these things culminated into a great arrival in Baton Rouge.  I am looking forward to our stay in the capital.

-Daphne Chang