Reading Twitter the other day, I came across a post that said roughly "people of privilege, all this outrage and focus on issues lately is great, but don't burn yourselves out. You're not trained to handle this all day every day," and it struck a chord. The world this year has felt like it's all about this - no, wait - now it's all about this. And there are still jobs to try and do and classes to take and laundry to fold and birthdays to celebrate and the million other things that constitute normal life.
There are also a huge number of things that we want/need to talk about, and we can understand if some people want us to get back to our regularly scheduled programming. There's genuinely interesting product and market stuff we're eager to discuss, and we've made some product decisions you all might find interesting (to say the least). We'll get to all of that soon enough, but it can wait a hot minute.
We identified the other day that we are both straight white males. That means things for us, but it doesn't mean we live in a bubble. There are people within my immediate circle (you could say household, you could say not household) for whom not a single one of those descriptors is true. You might see that we're in Newport and think "embroidered lobster white people pants" and though there is a (big) element of that, Newport's also a Navy town with a huge percent of Section 8 and affordable housing. My street is like Sesame Street, without the muppets (except me - I'm the grouch). The local schools are significantly diverse. But the bigger message is that these are universal issues that affect us all, directly or not. You are truly either part of the solution or part of the problem.
Jumping off from Mike's post on Friday is the thought of "now we're a bit more aware of the issues, what can we do about them?" As it turns out, I've already been a part of my best idea. The photo above is from Aquidneck Cyclocross, from the after school program that friends of mine started a few years ago to introduce kids at the Pell School in Newport to cross. We called it cross, it was more like riding around a field in a somewhat directed manner. This photo, btw, is about the least diverse one you could possibly have taken. This program addresses like 1/3 of what Mike talked about Friday. For the program's second year Raleigh gave a huge discount on bikes and we were able to win a grant to pay for them, so the program really stepped up. And I deserve only very limited credit - I did a lot but most of the heavy lifting was done by others. And for the last two seasons I haven't been able to do the whole lot because I take off season contract jobs (the magic of the get rich quick scheme that is November...) that conflicted with it. But there are things that can be done to make an improvement. You don't have to have board member-level involvement to make a difference. There are a million small things you can do that can make a difference - many hands make light work.
We'd also ask you not to read any "holier than thou" message in this. We're personally miles from perfect now, and have been more miles from perfect in the past. We're all cyclists here, though, so if there's one thing we can all get it's that practice and commitment can take you where you want to go.
There are cycling companies that can stroke a big check and make a big contribution that way. Unfortunately, we can't, but that doesn't mean that we can't strive to make a difference. The immediate thing that we thought of is to use our platform, such as it is, to simply be allies for things we believe in. We're very cautious about being any kind of cultural carpetbaggers and making this about us, so we have to walk that tight rope.
Not for nothing, these socks are about 4 years old and quite well worn. Time for new ones.
There are a ton of things to consider, first and foremost who do we want to benefit. We've got one of two slated beneficiaries in mind, but we need to talk to them more and make sure there's a fit, and we're open to suggestions.
A lot of you have requested that we do merchandise, so it makes a lot of sense to start there. We've talked a lot about products and designs but if you know us you know we don't want to ham fist this thing, so there's still some more to do there. I think we're on a good path. This will be an "all net proceeds" deal, we're taking no cut or admin fee or any BS like that. Everything past what it costs us to get the stuff to you goes to programming. We think this will be cool and a good start.
More to come, and if you have ideas for good beneficiaries please let us know.