Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New York Times Article

The New York Times Student Journalism Institute ran an article about the Wanderlust tour, and includes a lot of information about Becky! It even has a link to the biking page!

Here is the link for the article, or you can read the text version below:

Activists Biking Across 12 States for Reproductive Rights

By Amber R. Perry

Last year, Nora Dye took a solo bike journey from New York City to San Francisco.

“I wanted to meet other people who were advocating for reproductive health care and get a scope of what they were doing,” said Dye, the senior program coordinator of the Pro-Choice Public Education Project in New York City, which educates women on reproductive health issues. “There’s a lot of isolation within the reproductive justice movement and I wanted to create a network for us to talk about what is working, what isn’t and ways to better our efforts. We don’t share ideas as often as we should.”

Dye called the bike tour Wanderlust, an homage to the urge to travel. “The name implies the lust and passion one has. We’re passionate about reproductive health care,” she said.

This year, Dye and 19 other riders are traveling from New Orleans to New York City in an effort to create an open dialogue about women’s contraceptive freedom.

Dye interviewed applicants for the bike trip and created an itinerary.

“There’s a lot of media attention around New Orleans,” Dye said about why the tour started in the city. She said the post-Hurricane Katrina recovery effort doesn’t focus on women’s health. “We want to help raise awareness about women’s health.”

Kathleen Adams, a New Yorker and intern for the Pro-Choice Public Education Project, considers her major in architecture as an asset to the women’s rights movement.

“Housing for women is a right, especially in New Orleans,” she said.

The bike tour will not be easy. The women will face heat indexes in the high 80s to lower 90s, rain, fatigue and flat tires, among the other problems of traveling cross-country.

Riders will rotate duties, either following behind or driving ahead in vans to scout out the roads. They set up tents, provide food and water, administer first aid and allow other riders to rest. The vans carry extra bike parts, clothes, sunscreen and other supplies that riders might need.

For most of the stops, the riders will spend the night in the homes of friends and supporters. In New Orleans, the Wanderlust tour met at the home of Dye’s friend, Amy Marlow.

Marlow, a native of New York City, moved to New Orleans to help in the rebuilding effort.

Nora and I met last year on a Web site called couchsurfing.com,” Marlow said. “Couchsurfing.com is a Web site that connects travelers with couches. We also found out we had a mutual friend…it was fate.” Marlow said she hopes to join Wanderlust next year.

The 1,800-mile, 12-state tour is expected to last five weeks, and is being broken into 50-mile rides each day. Some days, the rides will end with town hall meetings at various churches, homes or schools.

The Rev. Becky Turner, executive director of the Missouri Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, sees the tour not only as an opportunity to exchange ideas, but to test her physical and mental skills.

“Religion is about justice of any kind,” Turner said. “I want women to be the recipient of justice, full control over their own bodies and the course of their lives. As a Christian, I look to Jesus in the ways he treated women.”

Like Turner, most of the riders prepared for the journey by jogging at least 30 miles, cycling and doing other exercises. Turner said she plans to keep an account of her journey through her blog, 2000miles4justice.org.

Paris Hatcher, who works with SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, a pro-choice organization in Atlanta, said that while she is not a serious rider, she wanted to represent women of color on the tour.

Wanderlust’s first major stop will be in Mobile, Ala., where the riders will host an event.

“We’re going to hear from them — advocates, educators, human rights groups — their opinions, politics, access to reproductive health. And make friends,” Turner said.

On Monday, at the start of the ride, after applying more sunscreen, passing out walkie-talkies, filling bottles with water and stretching, the Wanderlust riders stood in a circle.

“Plant your feet firmly on the ground and take a deep breath,” Dye said. “No matter what happens, you are always grounded with the earth, and she will be here to protect you.”