“I love the open road / and all it suggests.” – Smashing Pumpkins, Soot and Stars
Can you think of anything better than spending your summer on the open road? It’s one of those young adult rights of passage: the road trip. I’ll be graduating this coming May, and I can’t think of a better time to do a road trip and see our great country. But this is not just any road trip: it’s on a bike: 3800 miles in the saddle!
I am getting ahead of myself. My name is Heather Furman, and I’m a 24-year-old aspiring urban planner currently attending school in Cleveland. I grew up in upstate New York, just outside of Schenectady (which is the greatest city in the world - don’t let anyone tell you different). I swam competitively from age 9 until I retired at the end of my senior year of college at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. I swam the 1650, which is a nice way of describing that really long event during which everyone gets up and takes a break.
I ended up sticking around here in Cleveland to pursue my masters of urban planning at Cleveland State University. I am car-free, and have come to rely on my light blue 1981 Peugeot PH8 touring bike (affectionately named Jay) as my primary mode of transportation. Jay and I have gone back and forth to work and school countless times, and have explored the countryside near Cleveland a little bit as well. This bike has even survived getting hit by a police car (ask me sometime, it’s a good story).
I also am a runner, and completed my first triathlon this past summer, the Cleveland Triathlon, with two of my friends. Can’t say I ever want to swim in the harbor next to the Rock & Hall of Fame again, but the rest of it – especially the cycling portion – was a lot of fun. Now on to the next challenge: cycling 3800 miles for affordable housing.
In both my undergraduate and graduate coursework, we have learned about the negative outcomes of inadequate housing, so I’m looking forward to expanding my carpentry/building skills and helping support affordable housing. In addition to being consistently ranked as one of the poorest cities in America, Cleveland/Cuyahoga County has one of the worst foreclosure crises in the country. Deteriorating, substandard housing is a fact of life for many people here in Cleveland.
This isn’t isolated to Cleveland. Substandard housing affects many communities all across the states. Low-cost housing is often located in central city neighborhoods, and government-built affordable housing is often disproportionately concentrated into certain neighborhoods. This helps concentrate poverty, with negative outcomes in education, health and employment. Dilapidated housing is a sign of neglect, and can encourage arson, vandalism and other crimes.
Providing safe and decent affordable housing is a daunting challenge, to be sure. We can start by supporting affordable housing organizations across the country. That is what this trip is about: helping provide our fellow Americans with one of our basic needs – shelter – through both our sweat and the money we raise. How can you help us? Please consider clicking the “Donate” button on this page underneath my picture. Even the smallest donation helps.
|Heather has currently raised $5,281.|
That's 132% of her $4,000 fundraising goal.