There is one big major thing that comes to most people’s minds when the word Utah is mentioned. Not the amazing skiing and snowboarding, not the arches and national parks, maybe The Great Salt Lake, but the thing that comes to most people’s minds is the Mormons. Utah’s populations is more than 60% LDS and it shows. Road names like North Temple and towns like Eden show some of the influence. Sunday mornings they take over the city as people with long conservative dresses or white collared shirts are out on every corner. One thing that I found surprising about Utah was that the homeless population is greater here than possibly even New Orleans (now that I think about it, no fucking way). There is an entire 5 block area downtown Salt Lake that has been taken over and is now tent city. My explorations of the city has been to shows, parties, bars, jobs, and mostly just walking around. At backyard show at Kilby Court a DJ told me that Salt Lake is in a pivotal position between becoming a place for real creativity and inspiration, or just a place like everywhere else. That phrase hits it right on the nose and will stick with me for a long time to come.
Coming off a lifties salary from the winter, I am in massive hustle mode just to make ends meet. A good friend of mine tells me of a place that will allow you to trade your time in for a bike in a work trade type of agreement. After that you can continue to volunteer hours for upgrades to the bike. Fridays and Sundays 9-12 (2312 S West Temple) are volunteer hours where anyone can come in for work. A small part of the job is cleaning but most of the job is disassembling bikes and organizing the parts for reuse. I learned so much about bikes in the short time that I spent at the Bike Collective. Next time a go back I will be assembling bikes from the many different parts that are kept in the shop and then the time that I go back after that I will be participating in a class that they offer; something to do with bikes I assume. All I know is that I am down to be a part of whatever it is that they have going on.
While putting in my time today I spoke with one of the older guys that volunteers there regularly. As we talked I found myself listening to his stories of long bike trips that he would take across the country and was immediately impressed with the idea of a long trip for myself. That conversation and consequently the journey must have been the reason connected with the Bike Collective as the shop manager (a college student going for environmental studies… classic) was more than happy to design and build a bike specifically for a journey cross country. Super thankful for having found this gem along my journey and looking forward to my next visit.
Utah is a super dope place where I have been able to naturally build relationships that have depth without having to try too hard or search too far. It’s like there is a group of people living here that react impressively against the shallow thought of Mormon culture with something that is real to profound levels. Tonight I am going to head over for drinks with the environment studies guy from the shop and on Sunday I will be able to finish up my 6 hours of work. It does take some searching but there is some amazing things happening here in Utah. Here’s a raised glass to hoping that this spot does becomes that creative place that the DJ was talking about because I can see that its already happening.