Cruising the school bus loop provided a feel for how the rig handles, which is quite smooth. One of the first rides around town was a surprise visit this morning to Avid Books in Five Points to thank Rachel Watkins for her social media wizardry.
I passed out fliers in three neighborhoods yesterday afternoon, and talked with residents about the project. Curious and welcoming families discussed optimal days and times. At Kathwood Apartments, a father named Roberto offered to spread the word and said he knows a family who’ll likely donate books to the cause.
So deliveries begin next week. The (best laid) plan is to visit one locale per day at six in the evening so parents who work during the day will be home, along with kids who attend camps or daycare elsewhere. Here’s the tentative schedule:
When Chris Sugiuchi, Chase Street’s go to for everything STEM, first heard about the success of the GoFundMe campaign, he quickly reached out to kindred spirits in the community. One such spirit is Robert Beck, a Chase parent and experienced woodworker. He kindly offered to build the Bibliobike. And despite my negligible experience beyond skateboard ramps in middle and high school, Robert also invited me to help.
Robert founded Loki Design in 1996. At his nondescript shop in Comer, Georgia, he juggles residential and commercial furniture, cabinetry and millwork jobs. On one end of the shop, a stack of white custom cabinets with silver hinges almost touches the ceiling. And on the other, a four hundred pound chunk of vintage piano guts, destined to become a table, rests on a cart – a relic that would pique the curiosity of any avid maker.
Our process began with a discussion of modifications to the original design, some aesthetic and others utilitarian. For example, Robert chose Baltic birch wood because it’s stronger and lighter. He also upgraded the metal parts to stainless steel, which will last longer when exposed to the elements. Other tweaks happened organically while moving through the different stages.
I had no idea summer would begin with an apprenticeship. At each step, Robert modeled the technique(s), then set me loose. Naturally, I was nervous at times. I think he could sense it because he simply responded, “You’ll find your way.”
In addition to patiently answering tons of rookie questions and using jokes to ease the stress when I made mistakes, Robert calculated measurements and cut the pieces. He taught me how to use a router to cut rabbets (not a typo) and dadoes, which are essentially slots.
Robert also taught me how to smooth the wood to prevent future splinters with the most sophisticated sander I’ll probably ever use. The incredibly ergonomic blobject features a built-in vacuum and Bluetooth compatibility. If stolen, he could turn it off remotely with his phone (though it’s doubtful Robert has enabled the feature). The sander and I have spent quite a bit of time together, and Robert and I have now surpassed thirty hours of work. Here’s an overly simplified breakdown of our process so far:
Rout rabbets and dadoes.
Dry fit parts together.
Excessively clamp pieces together.
Attach latches and hinges.
Take apart three main parts/shelves.
Sand corners, edges and smudges.
During math each year, we discuss the importance of attending to precision. I wish I could bring my students to Robert’s shop to model what that looks like in action beyond the abstract.
So we’re nearing the end of construction, and in Robert’s words, “We’ll get there.”
The last load from school includes two panniers worth of nonfiction under a case my students call TheTransformer, because it unfolds into a picnic table and chairs when we enjoy lunch outside. It also happens to be the same one Luis Soriano brings with his Biblioburro while delivering books to rural villages in La Gloria, Columbia. The teacher who donated the books has a jar of homemade kimchi waiting for her in the workroom fridge.
On a wet Wednesday at the tail end of post-planning, two cartloads of books get loaded up and transferred from the classroom shelves, to the car, then to the house.
Summer officially begins when the last teachers’ meeting lets out. An hour later, I hop on the bike for a celebratory ride around town to visit potential Bibliobike stops (and forage for unseasonably early blackberries).
Kids are surprised to see a teacher on one of the first days of summer. Some run inside and grab their bikes to join me for a stretch. One former student named Carlos (a high school senior next year!) is at work, but his father invites me in for a rest and a cold drink of water. His mom is babysitting a handful of neighbors’ kids who fill the living room. I explain my plans for the summer and one girl’s eyes light up when she hears about books coming to her street. Storm clouds build, so I say goodbye and head home.
Listen to some songs from my Summer Bike playlist…
Omak Besar (Big Waves), by Tm Juke and The Jack Baker Trio