Pedaling Power in FITchburg: My recap

By April Bello

You meet the strangest people while traveling on bicycles. We figured the day couldn’t possibly get any weirder after our cop encounter, mentioned in an earlier blog…until lunch. Now, you know that you’re special when a cholo wolverine and an Eminem look-alike offer to buy you drinks while you are minding your own business munching on a sandwich. Enough said.

Mary Giannetti and Donna Wysokenski from MOC were our go-to people while in Fitchburg. Mary is a very sweet being who is busy like a bee promoting active living. Donna is the real life Maude with a few science degrees and a pixie haircut. She exudes a welcoming radiance and a stellar spirit. The wavelength in which she vibrates surpasses those, which I have EVER experienced. Oh Donna, YOU ARE A GEM!

On our first day in the city we toured the neighborhood and gave a presentation at the Fun n’ FITchburg monthly meeting, where we saw real collaboration in action. Returning to our home away from home we made our first team dinner, vegan burritos with guacamole (My absolute favorite)!

Tuesday started with a delicious breakfast, accompanied by Billie Holiday at the Moran Square Diner courtesy of Mary and her husband. It continued with a tour of the MassInnovation Center, where we were briefed on the technical logistics of powering a building on solar energy. Seeing Donna and John (our tour guide) connect about sustainability initiatives and the environment served as a reminder to seize every opportunity at connecting with other beings. Then we were off to the MOC Homework Center in Green Acres to make some pizza box solar ovens. With cooperation from the sun we were able to cook nachos with cheese and oatmeal raisin cookies!

On Wednesday we met in the drizzling rain with members of MOC and Catherine (a student intern at the Mayor’s office) at the MOC Homework Center, where we built 8 raised bed boxes for two community gardens. We spent the day laughing and conversing about our food system and sustainability, walking with bare feet, juggling dirtballs and tossing a Frisbee. I’d say it was a day well spent!

Drill, baby, drill! ... the screw into the garden bed.

Thursday’s meeting with Mayor Wong was INSPIRING. Lisa Wong is an Asian-American woman who has traveled around the world expanding her organizing and leading abilities. Her main focus in office is to build choice! Her eloquence and dynamic persona left our group thirsty for more. Our thirst was partially quenched at a tour of the sustainability initiatives at Fitchburg State University.

Sara, Kaia, Mayor Wong, Lisa, Marina, and April in front of the hand-printed US flag!

On our last working day we met with two newspaper reporters, one from the Fitchburg Sentential & Enterprise and Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Being interviewed was empowering. It was affirming to HEAR myself speak about my ideas without undermining my knowledge, aspirations, and passions. The day was rounded off with two potlucks, one with MOC, where we held some interviews, and the other at the United Unitarian Church, where we met some Bike & Build bikers who are biking cross country! Our day also included picking up a copy of Nietzsche (oh yeah!) at the Rabbit Hole, a chic used & new bookstore, Lisa flopping over from her bike, and dreams about yummy food!

Fitchburg was a refreshing start to my summer journey. I look forward to hear about the progress of Fun and FITchburg and local collaboration and hope to see increased civic engagement. Now Greenfield: show us what you got!

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