Boise Bike Week gets a kick-start on Sunday with a little global perspective. At 5 p.m., when the heat of the day and your feverish anticipation of the week to come threatens to afflict you with a joy-killing bout of sleepiness, head on over to The Flicks and catch the "Think Globally, Bike Locally" film screening, which also features raffles, valet cycle parking and a showing of local utility and cargo bikes. The event consists of two short films that cover cycling culture on five different continents.
Filmmaker Ted White, whose 1999 expose We Are Traffic! aired on PBS and the National Geographic Channel, directed Return of the Scorcher (1992), a half-hour look at bicycle culture in Asia, Europe and the United States that features interviews with cycling luminaries such as pedicab pioneer George Bliss who, on-camera, coins the term that would lead to a movement: "critical mass."
The second film on the bill is the 2007 film, Ayamye, which is Ghanaian for "goodness, kindness and generosity." Ayamye documents the efforts of the North Idaho-based Village Bicycle Project as it sends cargos of used bikes to be sold inexpensively in Ghana for rural transportation. Filmmakers Eric Mathies and Tricia Todd witness the loading of a bike-filled barge through partner organization Bikes Not Bombs, then travel to Africa to film two recipient cyclists, Seth, a commuting poultry-farm worker, and Nurse Letitia, who learns to ride in order to administer vaccinations in neighboring villages. Mathies and Todd returned one year later to discover how the bikes had changed their subjects' productivity and enhanced the quality of their communities.
The story of the Village Bicycle Project begins with longtime Moscow resident Dave Peckham. In 1999, the former Peace Corps volunteer traveled to Africa to study the effects of bicycles on rural village life. Until recently, tariff bylaws in most of Africa categorized bikes as toys and levied prohibitive duties against their importation, but changing legislation in Ghana created a new opportunity.
"I went to Ghana looking for the bicycle culture, looking to see what kind of impact bicycles could have," Peckham said. "There was a lot of interest in getting more bicycles, and there was interest in bicycle tools. They had never seen these bicycle tools before ... If you had a hammer and a chisel and pliers, you could call yourself a bike shop in villages."
While teaching repair techniques and providing professional tools is an important part of the Village Bicycle Project's mission, the organization's greatest success has been in conscientiously transforming the face of transportation in rural areas. Since its first shipment in 2000, 85 cargo containers—each containing about 900 bikes—have been sent to Ghana and one to El Salvador.
But Peckham, who relocated to Boise last August, isn't content until he gets the local bike community involved.
"There's a lot more community bicycle potential here than in Moscow," he says. "I'm working with Boise Bicycle Project, and we're talking about organizing a container of bikes."
Sunday, May 10, 5 p.m., $10. The Flicks, 646 Fulton St., For more information, visit ghanabikes.org.