Posted by Kaia Zimmerman
On Thursday, July 21st, a community bike ride touring some of Cape Wind was organized by Falmouth Bikeways, as part of the Falmouth Climate Action Week put together by the Falmouth Climate Action team. We had recently biked in from Kingston on the last leg of a three day journey, and our muscles were still recovering, but we figured the ride would be a low-key, low-strain, family event, and that perhaps for once we would feel like experienced bikers in comparison.
We could not have been more wrong: we were the youngest in the group by far (the age range was probably late forties to late sixties), but we were by no means the most fit. Surrounded by outfitted road bikes and colorful riding attire, our matching orange shirts somehow seemed a little less official. One of the bikers inquired how much of a ride we were up for that day: “Twenty, thirty, maybe forty miles?” he asked casually. My leg muscles began to spasm in anticipation as I stammered that we were still recovering, and could we be back in two hours? Thankfully, they said we’d be back soon.
I rode alongside a few women, and they were very curious to hear about Climate Summer and my opinion of the youth movement in general. I only wish I could have said more; the endless hills we biked up replaced my intended responses to their questions with gasps for air. Not only did their lung capacity and muscular strength seem unmatchable, but when my chain popped off a few of the women flipped my bike over and repaired it in under three minutes (it would have taken me close to ten!).
Their knowledge of sustainability efforts in Falmouth was astounding. Though most of them were only part-time residents, one would think they were professionally trained tour guides.
Though many would say that people in their late teens and early twenties should be in the prime of health, these bikers, more than twice our age, were biking circles around us. Two hours might not have been enough time to show us every wind turbine and solar panel in the town, but it was enough time to prove a point. You don’t need to be young to be active and engaged, you simply need to be passionate about what it is you are doing. The bike group exemplified such activity literally, but this lesson can apply to political and social activism as well. There seems to be a temptation to believe that after fifty or so years of work there is not much else a person can do to influence or contribute to their community (we heard “It’s up to you now” far too many times this week in regard to the climate crisis). But we need all hands and minds working together, since we still have much to learn. We require the support (both verbal and physical) and the years of experience that the older generations have to offer. Those who are still capable of taking action, and those who have the resources needed to make this transition possible, must not feel that they have nothing left to contribute.
Furthermore, I’d like to reflect on the fact that the narrow age range in the bike group was reflective of a larger reality of civic involvement; older generations and younger generations often have trouble connecting and working together, despite the fact that they frequently have common interests and values. This is something that has been alluded to in many of the conversations we’ve had with groups and individuals in other towns this summer, but something that became even more apparent here in Falmouth.
The movement remains segregated in many ways, and we will only succeed once we can integrate all the diverse groups working towards common goals. The need for intergenerational cooperation and action is a big piece of this, and I hope that our presence in Falmouth this week has inspired some of the older residents to foster such partnerships.