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Age of a New Thoughtfulness

What''s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?

People explain the rise of cycling by citing gym closures, emptier roads and more available time. Though contributing factors, it is too narrow and simplistic a view to explain what is happening. 

Every day, all available bicycles are rolled into our backyard. We have a couple of EZ-Ups, a 150 pound epi wood table for display lights, locks and helmets, four of my cars, some cactus, a hudson sprayer with a diluted bleach solution, 9 redwood raised beds and two basil plants that I have let go to flower. 

Buying a bike (or helmet, raised plant bed) from Coco''s is now a one-on-one, private shopping experience. Masked and gloved, we keep backing away from each other when we really want to be closer. It is freeway loud, blindingly bright and often oppressively hot. Early in the pandemic, it was hard on the guys to navigate this complete change of customer service with the new element of public management. The heat, noise, and brightness contributed, but the most difficult aspect was not being in control of our physical space, not knowing if other people would adhere to social distancing guidelines and how we would have to enforce them. As the owner of Coco''s it''s easier for me to draw the line between acquiescent customer service and telling space invaders and mask rebels that I will make them toe that line. So, I have largely taken over that role.

Therefore, I have sold about 90% of the bikes in the last months and have learned a lot about where everyone is at. Masked but still human, it is more intimate than the bravado and rage of memes and re-tweets. Overwhelmingly, the reason that people are desperate to cycle at this time is that it makes sense - when so much doesn''t. When the grocery shelves were bare, we were sanitizing our mail and there was a lack of cohesive national pandemic strategy, many people got the wake up call. 

This is a clean slate reboot. Everything gets fresh eyes. 

On May 24th, we started selling redwood raised beds and I wrote this: 

Which ever way your political wind blows, we understand you are not happy with your America. The macro nation and its divisions feel overwhelming, but we can live in a kinder, gentler and more engaged society by taking responsibility for the kindness we extend, the dollars we spend and the grace we share. Bikes, bread and raised beds will change our micro America. Putting the Variety in Coco's Variety since 2008 and we are just getting started. We are surviving on good vibes and high fives. Peace be with you. Raised beds coming soon.

The next day, George Floyd was murdered. Though I do believe everything that I said the day before, it is embarrassingly naive in scope now. The George Floyd murder and the Black Lives Matter awakening was our test for this clean slate reboot and our fresh eyes. If you weren''t sickened, outraged and taking a hard personal  inventory, then, well, I don''t know what. Justice for no one until justice for everyone. I can and will do better.

Andy of Bub and Grandma''s Bakery and Coco''s Variety set aside Friday revenue for charity. First was The Bail Project - $1380. When you give, you also are spending. You are researching, learning, listening and educating yourself before you give that money. Nodding in agreement when a political candidate talks about bail reform is different than involving yourself actively or donating the money. You want the money to matter and this makes you dig. OF COURSE, I should already be educated about these issues. I can do better. And if donating and learning about the problem, the cause, the charity and their vision for a solution, well, that will be one of my paths. Recommended Why Bail? 

Next week was Black Lives Matter LA - $1410 of your bread dollars. Bub bakes food, we distribute food, you buy food and we give that money to charity. Wednesdays - Coco''s and Bub''s coffers. Friday - Charity. Sunday - back to the coffers. Black Lives Matter LA is making the status quo squirm with campaigns that are changing policy, challenging leadership and demanding change. Yesterday on the BLM LA Gofundme page, Melina Abdullah posted about building infrastructure and developing a thoughtful and deliberate plan for the future - more money has been donated to BLM LA since the murder of George Floyd than in the prior 7 years of the organizations existence.

East Side Riders - $1390. Really wanted the team to pick the charities - big and small. Extreme personal direct help from small charities and big ideas lobbying/scholarship from national organizations. Aaron brought our attention to East Side Riders. Wow. The East Side Riders deliver extreme personal help - 90% to direct services. Pre-Covid, they were already doing pancake breakfasts but they ramped up to daily meals for those in need and have served 51,332 from a street corner in Watts. That is a hell of a bike club. 

ESR (East Side Riders) aims to provide a comprehensive youth program that seeks to positively impact the following community needs: Inadequate Organized Recreational Outlets for local youth in the Watts area, a community that is rife with high rates of child obesity, asthma and other respiratory challenges amongst youth.?

This program encourages physical activity through bike riding for youth and their families; Lack of Safe Passage and Travel Routes: while Watts is a very small community, there are clear gang-related boundaries and territories that limit the movement of local youth based on where they reside; Youth Personal Development - teach local youth lifelong personal development skills based on their own self-interest, in a way that is interactive and fun.?

Youth learn bike safety, repair, maintenance, and design; Lack of Resources- families lack the resources to purchase bikes, safety gear, and/or other necessary equipment. This program allows local youth to learn and strengthen their physical activity skills, while developing new knowledge on health and wellness. 

Then the bottom fell out of our bread sales - lots of things to point to. Friday, we raised $1390 for East Side Riders and then Sunday, not only did we not sell out, but had 42 bags of bread left over. We took bread for our neighbors and Andy rolled up the rest in his weekly donation to people in need. (You hardly hear about it because Andy is busy, modest and there is a lot to focus on, but Bub''s bakes for those in need every week. Not just give away the leftovers, specifically baking the same super premium loaf you enjoy for those in need.)

We cut out the Wednesday bread drop, reduced quantity of bread for Friday''s and Sundays and removed our two bag minimum. Also, to simplify, we started to only offer one type of bag - a mixed bag. A nice big boule (something for the week,) a baguette or focaccia (for tonight,) and a sweet something (for the morning.)

NAACP Legal Defense Fund - $750. Less money, as we had less bread, but no less deserving an institution. Take a deep dive on something like economic justice and understand how much work has been done but also understand how broad injustice is and how much there is to do. 

Then Covid hit the bakery. One of the bakers got sick, tested positive and that sent a shiver through the soul of the bakery. The baker has recovered - though was quite sick - but so far 6 others tested positive. Andy shut down the bakery immediately. Two bakers got quite sick but are on the mend. As we are in close - though appropriate and masked - interaction with the bakery, Coco''s staff got tested and we are 6 of 6 negative.

Running the laundry and Coco''s, distributing bread, my wife had surgery (all ok!), Covid comes knocking next door and then Petra''s, my coin laundry manager, mother passed away in Texas. 20 years we have worked together, friends and family, and we are heartbroken for her. She is in Texas until further notice. 

Covid brought a new thoughtfulness. Clean slated our lives, forced us to take a beat and reflect on what matters. Then George Floyd was murdered. I wouldn''t say I was ready, but I was certainly tender and open. Glad I was. 



 

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Los Angeles, CA 90039-4023

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