While on a bike ride through the beautiful Connecticut River Valley of Massachusetts, a group of students from Hampshire College decided that they wanted to spend the summer of 2012 not only cycling across the country but doing so in celebration of the International Year of the Co-ops. As we shared the idea for the project, it received so much positive support that we got excited about moving forward with organizing the tour. Soon after, the tour became an International Year of the Cooperatives endorsed project and the organizing began. Now nearly ten months later, twelve cyclists are already a week into the cross country journey together.
From the outset, Co-cycle has been a student-driven idea; we are motivated by a wide range of intersecting passions. We are drawn together across different academic fields, from public health to gender studies, from agriculture to sustainable business. Shaped and informed through multiple disciplines, what drives us as a collective is hope and inspiration towards a better world. Our different yet interwoven academic paths and life experiences fuel our eagerness to do this work. As youth, we face a world full of complex problems whose solutions will require imaginative, creative, and social justice-oriented thinking. Thus we are moved to learn and teach others about why cooperatives are being increasingly recognized for their ability to address complicated and interconnected local and global issues.
The Co-cycle trip covers a broad area in a manner that is deliberate and personal. The multifaceted, collaborative approach of the project allows it to meet many needs simultaneously, resulting in a broad sphere of influence. Not only will we generate research that will be useful to folks like ourselves who intend to be participants in cooperatives, we will also help organize community events. Each event will strengthen regional cooperative networks, educate the general public, and galvanize awareness of and support for the cooperative movement and its capacity to catalyze social change.
A student film crew from New York University is along for the ride, driving the cyclists’ support vehicles, documenting the journey and enjoying the incredible co-operative and creative journey. The product will be a feature length film entitled To The Moon.