Equity and sustainability are two topics that come up in my world on a regular basis. A big part of the reason why is that I live in Portland. We're a city passionate about equity despite our checkered past of inequity. Much of the tenor of protests are for better and more inclusive rights among other things. We're also a city known for and marked by sustainability. Even our slogan is "The City That Works." To many we're a model city when it comes to transportation infrastructure, green infrastructure, and engaged citizens.
Like I said, I think about these kinds of topics a lot. I also regularly teach undergrad and graduate courses on such topics as urban history, understanding cities, community development, and my all-time favorite ... bicycles, equity, and race. A common theme woven throughout each course is this notion of equity. This could range from the plight of Japanese immigrants during World War II in Portland to redlining in Portland's African American community that prevented access to home loans to the growing unaffordability in the city center which causes many lower income families to move to low-density parts of the city without very good bicycle or transit infrastructure.
So what does this have to do with mountain biking, Loam Coffee, and the backcountry? Again, one of the topics brought up is access which is also a conversation about equity. Who has the right to the city? Who not only has the right or access to the city, but can play an active role in the process of shaping it? Equity or inequity is ultimately about access.
Access to the backcountry is a hot topic in the mountain biking community. This is played out both locally and nationally. I am thankful for many of you who play an active role in building relationships with your local city leaders as well as advocating for better access to wilderness areas. Why is this important? It's not simply so we can take off on a Saturday for a good shred with the crew, but to ensure we have access to such places. That's at the forefront of life in Portland as a mountain biker. For most a "quick shred" entails an hour drive to some distant trailhead.
But my heart is also in those off-the-beaten-path kinds of places with zero access because there are no trails. Mountain biking is not only a lifestyle and form of recreation. For many transitioning communities it is a way forward to revitalizing their economy after the mills have closed or the mines have shut down. Where does Loam Coffee fit into this? It's been a challenge because there are so many great causes, places, and ways to be involved. This could be here locally or regionally. We also constantly hear from many of you about this project or that project to be involved. Please, keep those messages and emails coming. In the meanwhile, we are slowly walking through the process of where and how to get involved to push towards equity and sustainability in the backcountry. We don't want to be hasty. Thanks for your patience.
Words by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager. Photos by Loam Coffee Ambasador Graeme Paterson