Ride of Silence 2014

Jim Brennan:

Loyal fellow-blogger and (motor)cyclist LB took the time to comment on Ghost Bike @ Ridge & Girard and shared with me her post Ride of Silence about a community cycling event held each year in honor of those who have died on our roads and hiways. The Ride for Silence has grown to 340 events on 7 continents, in 20 countries, and 49 States in the USA.

You can read more of LB’s work at Life on the Bike and Other Fab Things 

 

Originally posted on Life on the Bike and other Fab Things:

The 7th Ride of Silence in the New River Valley (NRV) of Virginia was a great success.  We had over 100 participants in this annual event to honor and remember those injured or killed while riding on public roadways.  I’ve not seen the total numbers from around the globe, but I do know that there were 313 rides held in the United States alone.  It is incredibly powerful to know that you are riding with people from all over the world … on the same date, at the same time.  It is also incredibly sad to think that these events have to be held.

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The Ride of Silence – NRV began, as always, with a very brief program.  Advocacy news and updates, and then instructions about the ride are given.  I’m proud to serve as one of the event organizers (of all my volunteer interests, this is one of my…

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Ghost Bike @ Ridge & Girard

“Oh, We close our eyes, The perfect life is all we need.” – Moby

I set out on my beater bike and cycle around town shooting pictures of things that grab my interest. The photos pile up in my library and when I sit to view them, maybe a week or month later, themes I never imagined appear that I will use for Cityscapes in the Schuylkill Valley Journal,

One such theme is a collection of bikes I’ve accumulated, many chained to poles, trees, and, believe it or not, artistically designed bicycle racks. I even have a shot of a unicycle chained to a traffic sign.

But the bike that pushed me over the edge was a Ghost Bike chained to a traffic signal pole at Girard and Ridge Avenues.

Ghost Bike memorializing 26-year-old filmmaker Jay Mohan struck and killed at Ridge & Girard Avenues in Philadelphia on May 10, 2015.

Ghost Bike memorializing 26-year-old filmmaker Jay Mohan struck and killed at Ridge & Girard Avenues in Philadelphia on May 10, 2015.

I steered to the curb, dismounted, and read the note attached to the bike:

Vijay Krishna Mohan

Vibrant Spirit

Goofball

Visionary

Educator

Activist

Friend

Justice-seeker

Generous Community Member

Filmmaker

Lover

Brother

Greatest rapper of all time

Born September 2, 1988

Died May 10th, 2015 after being hit by a car.

Jay Mohan had gone to the movies that night to see While We Were Young with his girlfriend. She took a cab home and he pedaled down Ridge Avenue toward Brewerytown where he lived when he was struck by a 1993 Buick shortly after midnight. He was pronounced dead at Hahnemann University Hospital a short time later.

The intersection at Ridge and Girard Avenues is along one of the morning routes I used to run with my friends at Back on My Feet. I stood on the path where the vibrant young filmmaker’s life ended, closed my eyes, and offered a prayer; then I thought about the beautiful testimonial on the paper attached to the Ghost Bike, saddled back up and continued on my way, humming Moby’s The Perfect Life, and keeping the beat with each successive stroke of the pedals.IMG_0049_2

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Almost Heaven

“If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed.” – Sylvia Plath

It all began with a 1,000′ climb to a mountain ridge on the Appalachian Trail, a 35 pound backpack strapped to my back. My buddy Ed and I descended five days later and 70 miles south in Duncannon, PA with lacerations, sore joints, and drank many cold beers. In between we encountered boulders, hills, valleys, rattlesnakes, rocks (PA as a reputation as Rocksylvania to AT thru-hikers) and a monsoon–pouring rain, high winds, thunder and lightning.

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On the final evening as dusk settled in I realized that Ed and I had been separated. We were in a dead zone (no cell phone towers) so had no way of communicating. He could have been one mile or five miles behind me. I set up camp, hung my hammock, and chilled in the mountaintop breeze before sliding into my sleeping bag to saw some logs.

The most common question I’m asked when I tell people about my ventures is “Why?”

“Because,” I tell them, “when I lie in my hammock before the sun goes down and look out over the valley, I feel like I’m on top of the world.”

Susquehanna River from my hammock as I fell asleep

Hammock view of the Susquehanna River from the Appalachian Trail.

The expression on their faces tell me they’ve never done such a preposterous thing, and they don’t quite understand. So I try another tact. I describe to them what I saw when I stuck my head out of my tent the next morning.

“I do it to get a glimpse of heaven.”

Susquehanna River when I woke.

Same view of the Susquehanna River when I woke in the morning.

I know they will never get it, so I concede, “Well, it’s as close to heaven as I might ever get.”

Almost heaven
Almost heaven

Turns out Ed set up camp about 300 yards behind me.

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The Enduring Art of Ray Ferrer

“Intuition is seeing with the soul.” – author Dean Koontz

"Intuition" is a creation of  New York City spray paint and stencil artist Ray Ferrer.

“Intuition” is a creation of New York City spray paint and stencil artist Ray Ferrer.

I began following Ray Ferrer and his art work after he commented on a blog I posted in 2012. The more I learned about Ray, the more impressed I was not merely by his art, but his versatility and humanity. Ray was a genuinely good and caring person. In December 2012, I wrote about Ray competing to have his work exhibited in Time Square. His images ran the gamut from Jack Nicholson to Billy Holiday, Bob Marley to Einstein, and from ironworkers eating lunch on an I-beam high above the streets of New York City to a joyful child swinging on a tire swing. But it was the work he named “Intuition” that hooked me for its beauty, innocence, and because it reminds me of my granddaughter Carley.

Early this year Ray’s wife, Rhian, found him in bed suffering from a seizure. He was rushed to the hospital where they discovered a massive tumor on his brain. Ray continued his work while fighting for his life, a testament to his optimism and will to live. He posted a blog in early February titled “Watchful Eyes” which was the first work he created after being diagnosed with the tumor.

Sadly, I returned from a hike on the Appalachian Trail yesterday to the news of Ray’s passing. My heart goes out to his wife Rhian, Ray’s loved ones and all of his fans. I am honored to have gotten to know this talented artist and wonderful human being.

The beauty of art is that it endures, and Ray left the world with a vast piece of himself through his paintings. Visit Ray Ferrer – Emotion on Canvas to read Ray’s story and to appreciate his art.

Artist Ray Ferrer with "Watchful Eyes."

Artist Ray Ferrer with “Watchful Eyes.”

 

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Key to Survival, Key to Marathon, Key to Life

“It’s not what happens to you; it’s what you do with it.” – Gregory Bright

Fifty-two year old Gregory Bright spent twenty-seven and a half years in Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola for a murder he didn’t commit. Sharon, the key witness, was a heroin addict and suffered from hallucinations. After a decades-long fight to exonerate himself, Bright was released from prion in 2003.

Actor Charles Holt (left) performs one-man play about Gregory Bright's (right) 27-year struggle for exoneration.

Actor Charles Holt (left) performs one-man play about Gregory Bright’s (right) 27-year struggle for exoneration.

Gregory Bright spent more time behind bars than in the free world, but while incarcerated other inmates, in particular death row inmates, sought his advice. Says Bright, “The advice I gave other men was the advice I needed. The only way I could get counseling was by helping others with their problems.” He went on to say, “You are the key to your own change.”

Bright’s words rang in my ear as I read them, and then it struck me. During the 2004 Steamtown Marathon a young runner came up behind me and said, “There is still a lot of pain that lie ahead.” I turned, looked him in the eye, and said, “Think only positive thoughts, man. Never, ever, let a negative thought formulate in your mind during the course of a marathon.” The following narrative from Twenty-four Years to Boston reminded me of Bright’s words:

I needed to get some positive energy flowing and shared the words for my own benefit as well as his. The distance is too long and too grueling, and once the seed of negativity is sown, there is risk it will find fertile soil and germinate, then it doesn’t matter how many miles remain, you are doomed.

Ironically, after Bright’s release Sharon was living in a project across from his sister. She apologized for her testimony that sent him away for twenty-seven and a half years. Gregory told her, “I know that feeling: to be sorry about something you can’t change… It’s not what happens to you; it’s what you do with it.”

Gregory Bright’s story is the subject of the one-man stage play, Never Fight A Shark In Water: The Wrongful Conviction of Gregory Bright.

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Lift a Finger to Change a Life

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.” – Anthony Brandt

MAY 31st – LAST DAY TO LIFT A FINGER TO CHANGE A LIFE!

Reblog, Retweet, or simply copy and send this link to family and friends TODAY for them to Lift a Finger and vote to Change Susan’s Life and win her a Wheelchair Accessible Van

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It’s easy in the course of day-to-day life to take things for granted, like getting out of bed in the morning, walking downstairs and making the coffee. As runners, you may even take running five miles, or 26.2, for granted. Stop for a moment and think of the millions of people around the world who aren’t as lucky, people who would give anything to simply be able to move about freely.

There are two people in my life who are afflicted with multiple sclerosis, one of which is my sister. So when a friend of mine asked that I vote to win his sister-in-law, Susan, a wheelchair accessible van, I obliged, and now appeal to you to vote, as well. Each vote–each click of a finger–increases Susan’s chances to win the wheel chair van.

Susan’s was diagnosed with MS thirty years ago and has been wheelchair bound for ten years. Her primary care taker is her husband, who transfers Susan from wheelchair to car for family dinners, holiday gatherings, doctor’s visits and more. Transferring another adult is no easy task, I know from the experiences of transferring my mom the final seven years of her life.

Read Susan’s story here: http://www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com/entrant/susan-coyle-philadelphia-pa/

Susan and husband Kevin.

Susan and husband Kevin.

Susan’s children nominated her for the chance to win the wheelchair van which would change her life, and that of her husband’s. You only need to click here, enter your email address to register, and then vote, or you can simply sign in with Facebook and your vote is cast. There is one week remaining to vote and you can vote once each day.

So lift a finger and help Susan win the wheelchair van.

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Cityscape – Art in Running

“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” – Jack Kerouac

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I’d been running the streets in center city Philadelphia with my friends at Back on My Feet for quite a while before I thought to photograph the murals I found at seemingly every turn. And then in November 2012 I got the idea to share the art that adorns the city with readers and posted The Art of Running, Part III – Cityscape. What followed was a series that now includes twenty posts about all types of art that makes up the urban Cityscape–sculptures, architecture, glass, murals and much more.IMG_5605

Fast forward two and a half years and I find myself Cityscape editor of the Schuylkill Valley Journal Online. Almost two decades after SVJ published their first edition in 1996, they launched an online journal in April 2015. The SVJ is part of the Manayunk-Roxborough Art Center. The twists and turns along the journey of life.

photoThere is no better way to discover a new city, town or countryside than on foot. David Byrne of the Talking Heads makes a case in “Bicycle Diaries” that a two-wheeler is best. I wouldn’t disagree; whether two feet or two wheels, both keep you grounded. In fact, many of the photos I shoot are taken on jaunts around town on my two-wheeler. The point is to slow down and smell the fragrances, listen to the sounds, the music of dialect, and breathe in the culture that surrounds you. Another advantage is that tiny streets, narrow alleyways and obscure hideaways are more accessible on foot and bicycle than by any other mode of transportation.

I was born and raised in Philly, yet is wasn’t until my early morning runs that I was struck by the art that had surrounded me on the city streets my entire life. So I share the urban art of my hometown with you in the hope that you will notice and appreciate the beauty of art that make up your own Cityscape.

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Join the conversation at Schuylkill Valley Journal, and be sure to check out Cityscapes.

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