along the five routes established by Bike &
Build since it began in 2003, as well as
along a new route from Nags Head to San
Diego. Each cyclist on the route raised at
least $4,000, which will be allocated to various affordable housing initiatives led by
young adults across America. The route’s
primary beneficiary is the Orange County
Habitat for Humanity chapter.
seek other professions. Cities continue to
fight gentrification as well as urban sprawl,
which hurts low-income families and those
who don’t have reliable, affordable transportation to and from work.
The UNC Habitat for Humanity chapter
and the county’s chapter received two-thirds
of the group’s total proceeds — $60,000. An
additional $20,000 was divvied up among
other student-led projects in North Carolina,
Colorado, Georgia and Arizona.
Though each Bike & Build team stops
to build in various cities and towns across
the country, the great impact of our journey is done while reaching out to each
community in which we spend the night.
Spending the night at local churches,
YMCAs, schools and even a funeral home,
our group was able to educate Americans
about affordable housing needs in their
hometowns. At least once a week, we traded
in spandex for a construction belt and had a
go with a hammer and nails as we volunteered on a Habitat
for Humanity home.
Understanding the meaning of social
justice is something that came to most of
us during our studies at our respective colleges and universities. This summer we
applied it toward — hopefully — a
stronger and more equitable society.
Over Calabash-style fish in eastern
North Carolina and Memphis-style barbecue in Tennessee, our cyclists —including
11 Carolina students or recent graduates —
engaged people in dozens of communities
in dialogue about affordable housing.
For many of the
30 cyclists, ages 19 to
26, affordable housing
was a new issue. College towns, just like
Chapel Hill, are well-known for picket
fences and well-groomed rose gardens
as well as a serious
lack of adequate
options for the hundreds of people who staff
By the time our
30 front wheels were
splashing in the
Pacific in La Jolla,
Calif., each of our
were sore and
fatigued but stronger
and more adept. But
the real improvements
could not be seen in
our new physiques.
In Orange County, for instance, the
average cost of a new home is more than
$564,000, according to Habitat. An average
two-bedroom apartment costs about $780
a month. Those figures, well above national
averages, are similar to the statistics found
in other college towns.
impact of our journey
had been left behind us, in the almost 50
communities our team reached out to dur-
ing the 3,800-mile journey.
As the landscape around us changed this
summer, the affordable housing issues were
constant from region to region.
It could be seen in the new foundations
poured in Colorado — the base of a family’s new life in a home; in the youth group
in Oklahoma that was touched and
empowered to reach out to neighbors in
need. And it will continue to be seen in
Chapel Hill, where an additional Habitat
for Humanity house will be pieced
together by students.
Rural towns are facing the plight of
diminishing industries and waning populations — such as the fishing industry in
Swan Quarter and Belhaven in North Carolina — as the young and educated work
force heads elsewhere to raise families and
— Lindsay Michel ’07
This was the second Bike & Build ride for
Michel, a former editorial intern with the
Review. Details of the program are available
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