merlin matthews, Re~Cycle
Friday, 22 Nov 2002
WEST MERSEA, Essex, U.K.
Well, time to cram it in hey!
After leaving university, where I got the idea for Re~Cycle, I became involved in the U.K. anti-road protest movement and similar NVDA (nonviolent direct action) causes, like Reclaim the Streets and Liverpool Dockers. The first tree village was more interesting than reviewing for my finals, to be sure! The problem was that there was always a worthwhile mission somewhere, and Re~Cycle wasn’t happening, due to lack of focus on my part. The turning point was when I turned down Greenpeace Germany’s offer to pay me to do a banner drop at an anti-logging event — I’m very good at being naughty — and I’ve been legit ever since, around five years.
I’m still totally into NVDA, and indeed miss it more than a little. However, I’m also in favor of a MULTI-PRONGED ATTACK on the status quo, and believe I’m making/catalyzing a lot of change here. I’m also slightly paranoid that in this technological age, a longer criminal record as an activist would stop me from going to poor countries, which often have repressive governments.
I would describe myself as a serial social entrepreneur, having attended the School for Social Entrepreneur, which is very much recommended for the U.K. folk. They say that you’re born a social entrepreneur, though you can also develop skills. I’m learning to play to and improve my skills, and have lots of other great projects on the back burner (and I’ve been pretty good at keeping them there, making sure I stay focused on Re~Cycle). My father’s after me to take over the family business (very posh yachts), and is not at all keen on all this “activity,” as he calls it — “it’s not a job.” I’ve pretty much given up on the quest for respect, though he did give me a Palm (handheld computer) for Christmas, which I find very useful, as opposed to the envelope technique I had been using.
Oh, I forgot the web link for the FreeRadical, relating to the CD I was burning on Wednesday. The World’s First Sports Utility Bicycle, the FreeRadical transforms a regular bike into a go-anywhere cargo carrier. It performs on rugged terrain with payloads of up to 200 pounds, while maintaining the friendly handling of a mountain bike. A FreeRadical-equipped bike can easily haul lumber, computers, kids, adults, kayaks, and ladders — loads previously considered too long, heavy, or bulky to be transported by bicycle. Adding a FreeRadical to a bike is like adding a thumb to a four-fingered hand. Using it, I’ve regularly taken two adults and a child up and down hills (with clip-in pedals). The idea started with trying to make bikes more effective in less developed countries, making them more useful for taking goods to market, fetching water, etc. The company that makes them has a charitable arm, which Re~Cycle works with. The inventors are so confident in their product that they offer an “it-will-change-your-life-in-30-days-or-your-money-back-guarantee.”
I attended the World Summit on Sustainable Development earlier this year in Johannesburg, nearby our main workshop. Here are a couple of nuggets to give people and idea of how bad the even turned out:
- The German Green Party called off its end-of-summit party.
- In the session on sustainable mobility, which we weren’t allowed to attend, the words bike, public transport, and non-motorized transport were not heard. Just the tire people talking to the car people talking to the petrol people. Bloody great.
The whole thing was pretty depressing, though I was inspired by Mission Antarctica — now Inspia — a project to clean up rubbish left in Antarctica.
Well, that’s all for now folks, please check out our award-wining website for more info, send us some money, and help make the world a better place through your actions. Plus, we’re looking for interns, if anyone’s interested.
I’m off for supper with daughter and her mum, and then the quest for the legendary early night continues.
Have a great weekend and keep up the good work! Give me a shout if you’re coming to the U.K.