So how much money are we talking about? Well, our tiny group of about a dozen or twenty folks here in Harrisonburg, Virginia, has collected about $9,000 over the past seven years. Not huge, but not chicken scratch either, in our humble opinion. Some of us who drive work vans kick in more. But the heroes among us are the bikers who use cars quite sparingly! That's the goal anyway: use less oil!
So what do we do with the loot we collect? We decided we want most of the funds to be used locally, but we'd also support some national and international causes. We have a clear preference for projects that save on fuel use as well as those that question our society's oil addiction.
In our humble beginning (yeah, we're still pretty humble, but we'll get more cocky one of these days!), we allocated $50 to buy lights for the bicycles for the guys in a local half-way house. Then we went big time and gave $500 to a local group promoting a bike path and walking trail in the form of a linear park along a stream through our town. We also gave $500 to help someone go to Iraq (yep, oil connection) to listen to the Iraqi people. Now we're working with the neighbors and the city manager to try to get a sidewalk/bike path along a town street that's rather dangerous. We've sent some bucks to an advocacy group in New England that sponsors a Tour de Sol alternative energy show in the region. We're talking about helping low income families better insulate their homes.
Organizations that we choose as recipients for our funds are those that:
- advocate for a cleaner environment
- promote alternative modes of transportation
- attempt to lessen the negative impact on people who are suffering and dying due to the world’s reliance on oil
- somehow work to reduce our societies reliance on petroleum.
Here's where our tax has gone so far:
- $50 to buy bicycle lights for the guys in a local half-way house
- $368 for an 8 foot bike trailer for a local university to use as a recycle vehicle
- $450 for earthquake victims in Pakistan
- $500 to Blacks Run Greenway Partnership, a local group planning and promoting a bike path / walking trail as a linear park along a stream through our town
- $500 to help a local resident go to Iraq with Voices in the Wilderness to listen to the Iraqi people
- $500 to a bike mechanic school for Boston inner-city youth
- $500 to the Harrisonburg Farmers Market local growers for signs
- $500 to Northeast Sustainable Energy Association to help support their Tour de Sol, the Great American Green Transportation Festival
- $500 to a rural mental health therapeutic community for attic insulation
- $500 to Rail Solution advocating freight rail, not four new lanes on Interstate 81
- $545 to help pay heating bills for local residents
- $1,266 to local Habitat builders to get Energy Star rating
- $1,149 to help launch a local food cooperative
It's always great fun at our occasional meetings to decide where to send the cash!