Bike & Build (www.bikeandbuild.org)

Who: Jackie Soo
Age: 25
What: Bike & Build Providence to Seattle trip, 2007

Bike & Build organizes cross-country bicycle trips which benefit affordable housing groups. Specifically, they fund projects planned and executed by young adults, aged 18-25. They have donated $752,804 in their past 4 seasons, and have pedaled thousands of miles, spreading the word about the affordable housing crisis in America. Through pre-arranged gifts, Bike & Build funds affordable housing projects executed by their participants in communities where their events begin. Through their grant program, their organization identifies and supports exciting projects involving young people all throughout the nation. Bike & Build also supports local affordable housing organizations along each route through on the road donations. Bike & Build’s programming introduces young adults to the affordable housing cause, engages them in a unique and interesting way, and creates a prolonged and intimate connection.

In addition to the aforementioned, the mission and guiding principles of Bike & Build make it the perfect organization for BIY to profile:

“Mission Statement: Bike & Build is pedaling to end poverty housing. Through fund-raising cycling trips, Bike & Build raises money for and awareness of affordable housing efforts. Our events act as a catalyst to build homes, foster the spirit of service, and empower young adults… mile by mile, house by house.”

“Guiding Principles: We are young, and we could change the world. Young adults are capable of incredible things. Bike & Build’s events unlock the potential of young adults to do good work. We strive to encourage our participants to test their limits, reach their potential, and affect change. Our energy is contagious, and there is much to be done. Safety is our top priority. During our events, the health and safety of our participants is paramount. In our first two years, Bike & Build participants cycled an aggregate of 680,000+ miles without a serious injury or accident. We work on a tight budget. Contributors have a right to demand – and we have a responsibility to ensure – that we be good stewards of the money entrusted to us. We are constantly looking for and implementing innovative ways to increase our effectiveness as a fundraiser.”

Here is the profile of one of this summer’s riders, Jackie Soo, a 2005 graduate of UC Berkeley:

Jackie Soo
Irvine, CA
UC Berkeley

Hi! My name is Jackie, and I grew up in sunny southern California. I went to UC Berkeley, and graduated in 2005 with a BA in English. Unsure about what kind of job I could find with a major like that, I escaped the job hunt and went to Taiwan, where I taught English for a year. That was one of the most amazing experiences of my life – I fell in love with 5 year old Taiwanese kids who couldn’t put together a sentence of English, but who told you “I love you,” put their arms around your neck, and delivered big sloppy kisses on your cheek. Then, I moved to Italy, and lived there for six months. I also taught English, but more to adults who didn’t tell me they loved me, didn’t drape themselves all over my legs, and didn’t kiss me every day. Oh, well.

Now I’m back in the States, and I’m really excited to be a part of Bike & Build this summer! While I haven’t had extensive experience with affordable housing issues in the past, public service and volunteerism have become increasingly important to me. The more I see and the more I understand of this world, the more I realize the necessity of actively working to create a world that I believe in. And I am ready to work hard!

For me, affordable housing means more than just building a house. It means building a whole system of sustainable and low-cost housing, a system that is integrated within the city or community in which it is located. Development must find some way to keep up with population growth. Ultimately, I would like to see a system of housing that provides simple, affordable units to people in need, that at the same time takes into account the environmental health of the city as a whole.

And to do all this while…bicycling across America! I love challenging myself, and I love doing things…differently. I can’t wait to see America the way few have seen it, and I can’t wait to share the experience with you all!

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~ by PJ on September 23, 2007.

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