Chainbreaker Collective, Santa Fe, NM

Milwaukee Water Dept. may have a policy to "euthanize" bubblers, but in Santa Fe the family Schlabowske can all drink at once.

Since today is my first day back at work after a week off, I was reviewing my vacation in Santa Fe and Milwaukee.  Time away from work provides an opportunity to spend quality time with family, to reground myself and reaffirm personal priorities.  Looking back, the majority of the last ten days were spent with family and friends.  What we did seems less important than the time we were together.  One of my favorite memories was a moment when our 15-year-old daughter smiled when she saw  Liz and I holding hands, and then she reached across to hold each of our empty hands and said “We’re a Family.”   The museums in Santa Fe, the desert wildfires near Las Alamos and all the rest created some great vacation memories, but little moments like that are why I need to take time away from work.

Brandon waits for the Chainbreaker Collective to open at 4pm last Tuesday.

Visitors must sign in and fill out a work plan before they enter the workshop.

Time away from work never means time away from bicycles though.  I did not bring a bike on my trip to Santa Fe, but I still found myself photographing people on bicycles and even working on them.  I had a couple of hours to kill one afternoon, so I Googled “bicycle collective Santa Fe” and discovered the Chainbreaker Collective. With some spare time on my hands between museums, I took the bus over there to volunteer.

The Chainbreaker Collective is one of many similar DIY bike shops, collectives and projects around the country.  In Milwaukee we have several: the Milwaukee Bicycle Collective, to the Boys and Girls Club Mary Ryan Branch bike shop, and Dream Bikes.  They vary quite a bit in mission and style, but in general they are all about helping people with limited resources get access to bicycles and bicycle repairs.

There are six work stations from basic to advanced in the well lit, clean shop area.

I spent my time at the Chainbreaker Collective creating labels for bicycle tools in English and Spanish. It was a little thing, but something they did not have time to do because their volunteers are always busy wrenching. I found it interesting because I didn’t know many of the spanish words for the specialized tools like head set press and truing stand.

Many of the shop's visitors speak Spanish, or have limited English skills, so everything must be written in both languages.

Even when I am on vacation, I find myself in places like the Chainbreaker Collective, seeking out other people with similar beliefs to mine. I had a nice time helping out and meeting the people there.  It helps to visit such places in other communities and feel connected to the larger movement that believes bicycles are a simple solution to many complicated problems.

Brandon(center) and a friend(left) get some help from a volunteer.

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About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
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