Build Days in MI, IN, and WI.

Hello from Duluth, Minnesota! Our Northern US team has hit the halfway mark, which is hard to believe given that time seems irrelevant now. (All we know is mileage.) Here's a rundown of our Build Days:

In Michigan, we partnered with Well House in Grand Rapids. Well House focuses on not just affordable housing but food security as well. One of the project managers was a Bike and Build alum, one of many living in Grand Rapids currently.

Next up, we biked to South Bend, Indiana, home of Notre Dame University. We worked with Nexus House by clearing out an old house that used to be an education center. We emptied the house of literally thousands of books – think Readers Digest from 1951, GRE test books, and children's stories. The plan was to transform the house into a halfway home for ex-convicts. I was also happy to see some family friends in South Bend as well – thanks again for the ice cream, Phil and Julie!

We then made our way to Madison, Wisconsin and helped Habitat for Humanity, fixing up some single family homes by priming the walls and installing drywall. Madison itself was beautiful and pretty easy to bike around.

Following Madison, we biked up the Mississippi River to Onalaska, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, our Build Day was rained out after about an hour of work. But before that happened, we began framing a single family house in a low-income part of La Crosse (a college town 15 minutes south of Onalaska) with another Habitat chapter. Some of us also worked with local teens to build toolboxes as a community building activity.

After that, we crossed over to Minnesota to St. Paul to work with ReBuilding Together. Unfortunately, both of the projects they had planned for us didn't work out (one homeowner died and the other was foreclosed on – both events happening within a week of one another), so we painted their office building.

Even though some of our Build Days haven't worked out, this trip has been pretty stellar so far. Some memorable moments include celebrating Christmas in July, support and love from Bike and Build alumns, fellow cyclists who ride with us on occasion, and seeking out information on affordable housing from various places we bike through.

I'll try to write more often if time permits!


Build Days in Vermont and New York

After traveling over 120 miles through New Hampshire, we had our second build day that was just over the Vermont border. We worked with Cover, a local nonprofit working to keep homeowners in their homes and make small adjustments to their homes. We were able to (almost completely) roof a veteran’s house. It was great to meet the homeowner while working and to talk to the director of Cover later that day at dinner.

After that, we conquered some crazy mountains in Vermont and New York (via a ferry!) and kept cruising til our next build days in Buffalo.

We spent two days building in Buffalo with their Habitat chapter. I was amazed to find out that Buffalo has appproximately 19 homes for everyone 1 homeless person. The issue is that it takes the city a lot of money to maintain the properties and fix up the buildings for those abandoned homes. Currently, the city is investing money in revitalizing their downtown area instead. Jury’s still out on if it’s working or not.

At the site, though, we focused on two single family homes. The majority of our work was assembling and installing walls, putting up a front porch, and some electrical work.

The work site in Buffalo.

We hit the road again and followed Lake Erie through Pennsylvania and Ohio. 

The perfect snack stop.

Talking about affordable housing, of course.

Rock on, Cleveland.

Next post: Michigan, Grand Rapids Build Days, Indiana, Chicago, and Wisconsin.