This morning’s commute would have been much more difficult without my Yuba Sweet Curry bike. For reasons too tedious to share, my son didn’t have his bike, his regular means of getting to and from school. But thanks to our bright orange cargo bike, I was able to haul both him and his backpack with no problem.

I bought the bike about a month ago from Firth & Wilson in Fishtown, and it has been a game-changer for me. We live in West Philly, about five or six blocks from Mariposa Food Co-op, and, though we supplement our produce from Philly Foodworks, Mariposa is where we do the lion’s share of our shopping. With the additional carrying capacity the bike offers, I can routinely transport a substantial amount of groceries and a child at the same time. I also used it to bring hundreds of copies of Grid to the Philly Bike Expo. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as I have a handful of projects it will help me tackle.

Regular readers may remember that our cover story from October featured families using cargo bikes instead of cars. They may even recall that the family on the cover had bright orange bikes.

So, maybe I am highly impressionable. But I’d prefer to think of it this way: Over a decade since this magazine started, I am still being influenced and inspired by the stories we tell, and I believe that other people are as well.

The author of this month’s cover story, Samantha Wittchen, is a pretty remarkable person. She holds an engineering degree, she’s a graphic designer for both print and web, and she has a consulting business called iSpring Associates, whose mission is “[t]o use our skills, knowledge and intelligence to help organizations understand the value of sustainable behavior and develop ways to embed that behavior in their organizational DNA.” She’s also a professional musician and teacher.

But the thing that I find most impressive about Samantha is her willingness to try new things. She’s not afraid to be an absolute beginner, and when she decides to explore something, she is tenacious and commits to it. She is proof that when you regularly push your boundaries, you begin to build the mental muscle that allows you to dive into something unfamiliar, and to fight the initial frustration that a neophyte inevitably feels.

I hope her essay about her maker journey, as well as her round-up of the outstanding makerspaces around the city, inspires you to try something new. She’s a good salesperson for sewing. I wonder if I’ll be making my way over to Butcher’s Sew Shop and writing about my new handmade bag two months from now.

By the way, you may have noticed that I’m name-dropping a bunch of businesses throughout these notes. I’m going to start doing that more often. A couple of days ago, Little Baby’s Ice Cream announced they were closing, and, while I accept that businesses are impermanent, it reminded me yet again about how important it is to support local businesses. So, this holiday, if you aren’t making every gift, or giving gift certificates to these makerspaces, be sure to shop with our local merchants. They need to make it, too.

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Latest from #127 December 2019

The Gift of Creation

By Samantha WittchenConsider giving memberships or classes in lieu of grabbing something off of store shelves