Posted by Andrew Lapham Fersch, Tom’s of Maine consumer, Epping, New Hampshire
I never imagined that I would bicycle across the United States. Sure, I’ve always loved to ride my bicycle; I just assumed that a cross country trek was an unrealistic goal for me. So last summer, when I actually bicycled cross country as a fundraiser for the American Lung Association, I realized that it’s more than just a cute phrase we hear throughout our lives; anything is possible.
The idea for the Northern New England Arbor Ride was hatched only ten days into the cross country ride. I was on a small road, in the middle of a (very) rural part of Wyoming and I was struck by the silent beauty of nature. It wasn’t a new feeling, a love for the outdoors; for some reason though I was struck by the fact that not only was it beautiful, but I suddenly felt I had a real responsibility to do something in my lifetime to try to help make sure that beauty is never lost.
Over the course of the Fall, I recruited a group of students from the 8th graders I work with in Epping, New Hampshire to help me with some planning. It was decided that I would bicycle approximately 1,300 miles over the course of one month, and that I would try to sign up three hundred people for Arbor Day Foundation memberships (which come with ten trees to plant) and that I would help plant three hundred trees over the course of 2011. The ride was planned with the help of Google Bike Maps and will take me all over New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. It is an independent, solo ride, with all lodging, food, and other costs being funded directly by me (with some friendly folks offering free lodging along the way). All proceeds; every penny raised is going directly to the Arbor Day Foundation. Every day along the ride, I will be distributing trees for planting and there will be tree planting events in towns that I have a rest day in (and possibly more if locals are interested – get in touch if you are!).
The ultimate goal of this ride is to do something to benefit the environment, to better the world around me. William Penn once said, “I expect to pass through this life but once, if, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do for any fellow being, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.” Each of us may not singlehandedly change the world; every single person can do something though to make the world a better place, and this is one thing that I can do. All I needed to make this happen was the desire to better the world, and the belief that what I do can make a difference…and a willingness to use my free time to plan to make sure it goes fairly smoothly.
Author and yoga teacher Rolf Gates once told me that the obstacles in our path are our path. The only thing stopping us from making a difference in the world around us tends to be us. It doesn’t have to be a bike ride, it could be a single tree planting, or individual recycling; we all have the power to make a difference.
So far, over 150 people have signed up for the Arbor Day Foundation and over 300 trees have been distributed to residents of Epping for planting. If you’d like to follow the ride, you may do so at; www.alrightimwrong.com. You can find out more about the ride at; www.ArborRide.org. It would be great to have people help along the way with tree planting events; please feel free to contact me at; firstname.lastname@example.org.