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Biking Beyond Bigotry Launches from Vermont with Support of Environmentalists

Guest Blogger • Apr 11, 2012

By Jesse Sanes

Biking Beyond Bigotry’s Northeast tour launched today from Middlebury, Vermont.  Participants will spend three days riding from Middlebury to Amherst, Massachusetts.   The first Biking Beyond Bigotry tour took place in 2011 in Arizona.  Ten environmentalists biked over 350 miles from Flagstaff to Tucson, Arizona.  The second tour was in Oregon last month, where participants biked 130 miles from Portland, Oregon to Eugene.

The Tour kicked off with an event at Middlebury College.  The founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, a frequent contributor to various magazines including The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Orion Magazine, Mother Jones and board member and contributor to Grist Magazine, provided a statement to kick-off the bike tour. Middlebury student Rhiya Trivedi read the following statement from Bill McKibben,

What good news that this bike tour is coming to Middlebury-and going on beyond!

We spend a lot of time in the environmental movement talking about the problems we face, which are enormous. But sometimes the scale of those problems causes people to reach for false solutions-‘oh, let’s geo-engineer the atmosphere so it stays cool.’ Or, for some, ‘let’s keep immigrants out of the U.S. so they don’t start consuming like us and trashing the earth.’

Those kinds of false solutions do damage in several ways. One, they distract us from the real answers, which are always tough: we need to get off fossil fuel, which will be the hardest task humans have ever undertaken. Two, they divide us. At 350.org, which was founded by 7 Middlebury students but is now run by people on every continent, our strength is that diversity. Not surprisingly, given the demography of the planet, most of our colleagues are poor, black, brown, Asian, and young. That’s what the world is made up of, and that’s what solutions will be made up of.

That doesn’t mean we can’t talk about population. We just need to do it in ways that make sense. I wrote a whole book about the subject a decade ago, called Maybe One: An Argument for Smaller Families. It focused on those of us in the rich world, and whether-by having one kid instead of two or three-we could make a difference in that way. Given our high rates of consumption, it turns out we can. It’s one solution among many-and its virtue is that it asks us to change, instead of trying to find some scapegoat to do it for us.

I wish I were there to say hi to old friends in person; I’m awfully happy they’re making this effort.

We are very excited about engaging in further discussions about race, migration and the environment, and encouraging inclusive dialogue that challenges anti-immigrant frames around population stabilization.

This third Biking Beyond Bigotry tour will end in Amherst, MA where cyclists will participate at the Civil Liberties and Public Policy annual conference that brings together activists from across the U.S. and internationally to build a stronger movement for reproductive justice and social change.  Bikers will discuss the anti-immigrant movement’s attempts to green bigotry at the conference. Stay tuned to Imagine 2050 for more updates about our journey!

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