Collective Concern



A funny thing happened. I used to belong to the world of the self. I used to look out just for myself. I used to expect only my family to help me.

And, then, I joined this funny, sort of punkish, sort of tattooed, sort of gritty, sort of not me group called The Campus Cycling Collective.

And, then I rode bikes for about a year. And, I started noticing something.

First, it started with a guy fixing my bike for free on a ride, and a PBR and some hummus after, no cost. Then it was a free pair of shoes from a woman. Then, I gave these people some presents. I gave some brussel sprouts to the guy and some coffee, pencils and chocolate to the woman and her family.

Then, I rode and I rode and then. Then, I got hit by a car walking across the street and I started having nightmares of snakes in my room. I’d wake up yelling.

Then, my knee hurt because of the car. Then, I talked to a few friends and they mentioned a guy.

Then I went to that guy and I’m going to use his name even though I never use people’s names. I went to see Craig Labadie at Buffalo Alternative Therapies and I walked in and he started asking me questions and I told him about all my problems. My knee. My stomach. The stress.

Then he took me into this quiet room with people resting. Resting. My family has to remind me to rest. I was actually going into a room to rest. Then I took off my shoes and he put these ever so gentle pins into my knee, my ankles, my collarbone, and my forehead.

And I sat there. I stayed pretty still.

And then, he came back and he took them out and then when I went to pay I paid on a price scale. I paid what I could afford. I can’t afford getting acupuncture at a high price often, but at Craig’s price I could. So, I paid and it was an exchange of money for service and I said goodbye. I left feeling really positive.

And then about three months later, I wanted to get this movie to come to Buffalo called “Half the Road.” I needed eighty people to buy tickets to get it to happen. It was going well. People were buying tickets but it was getting closer and I wasn’t sure it would happen. I was preparing for it not to happen, until one day a friend sent me a text and said, check your Facebook and I did and I saw that Craig was offering to buy fifteen tickets and then give these tickets away as prizes at bike races.

I was floored.

So, I messaged Craig and it was a great way for me to have another acupuncture visit so I said I’ll talk to you when I come in.

And he said that he really wanted to make this happen. He and his wife, Neilie, were huge supporters of women’s cycling and they really wanted to help me with this.

So, I went in with an armful of sunflowers because I couldn’t quite express my happiness and sincere appreciation in any other way than flowers. And on my way out, he said, “I know you’re really close to getting the eighty, but if you still need help, let me know.” I couldn’t believe his concern. It made me feel like a just watered plant.

And, then people seemed inspired and my lovely friend bought two and then Campus Wheelworks popped up and bought five tickets and it got me to the goal.

So. I’ve been studying. I’ve been studying Sweden because I want to bike there next spring, but something I’ve been really interested in are individualistic societies and collective societies. In individualistic societies people look after themselves and their direct families. In collective societies, people belong to a social set that will take care of them in exchange for their loyalty to that society.

I have many aspects of my life: writing, reading, art, running, soccer, yoga, Zen, filmmaking, sailing, et cetera, et cetera. But cycling holds a special place in my life.   I like looking at all these cyclists when I’m out having a drink with them or reading their comments on Facebook or watching how they respond to each other and I like studying how they act.

Craig Labadie, a cyclist, has a business model of acupuncture on a scale. He is offering something incredibly unique. To me, it is progressive. It is therapeutic. It is a kind, careful product that you exchange money for but it is based on you and your lifestyle.

I live in Buffalo so I can do exactly what I’m doing right now. It’s 10:40am and I am drinking espresso and writing. I live here because it’s cheap. I live here and I’m not trying to make a million dollars. I’m trying to have time. I really appreciate it when someone helps me and doesn’t take too much from me or gives to me and allows me to give back to them in some way.

My next step of the morning: I’m just about to make an end of the year massage appointment with Neilie, Craig’s wife who has worked with professional cyclists (the women of Saturn Cycling Team included among others). I want this massage as a treat for a hard, but fun, racing season. My body hurts. I need to go back into Buffalo Alternative Therapies, into that space, and soothe myself.

I feel the cycling movement in Buffalo is many things, but one of it is collective concern. It is concern for each person as another human being in the world, wanting to help her, protect her, soothe her and allow her to have her own voice.


Check it out: