As we charge into 2022, Ecotone is looking forward to a very full year of new projects and partners, and we’re revisiting our core values and intentions set in the past year. A new partnership we are excited to announce is with a local cycling advocacy organization called JAMSQUAD. Many of us at Ecotone are avid cyclists, and when we were looking for a way to go the extra mile, one of our core values, JAMSQUAD was a perfect fit.
Ecotone is a company founded on the mission to help the natural environment and humankind thrive in balance. We also like to focus on why we do what we do: the answer to why could be different for many people, but one is simply because people enjoy the outdoors. Even if you’re not an extreme outdoors person, spending time in nature has been shown to increase happiness, positive social interactions, and improve memory and attention. At Ecotone, working to bring natural systems back in balance is more than a means to an end as the benefits of healthy natural spaces go far beyond a job well done.
When the opportunity arose for Ecotone to sponsor BACX (the Bel Air Cyclocross Festival), organized by JAMSQUAD, we jumped on it. As we learned more about JAMSQUAD, we knew that continuing to support their mission, to “promote and facilitate youth development and interest in cycling… [by providing] new and restored bikes to youth and families who need them, allowing them the opportunity to enjoy the sport we all love” was the right path. JAMSQUAD was started in 2015 by Jay Neighbors, Auggie Plitt, and Matt Buckleman (Jay, Auggie, Matt gives us JAM) and has already donated about 1,000 bicycles. In fact, they have so many bikes coming and going that Ecotone has opened the doors of our construction equipment garage to alleviate space in Jambassador Brian Curlee’s home garage.
All of these bikes support the core programs facilitated by the all-volunteer group. In addition to “One Kid One Bike,” which orchestrates donations to children and families with the goal of promoting healthy lifestyles through cycling, their “One Community Two Wheels” program provides bikes to community shelters and women’s groups for people experiencing homelessness or whose access to a bicycle could assist them in job security. Along with this program, JAMSQUAD offers community repair days, where anyone can visit their pop-up bike shop to keep their wheels in tip-top shape. The next repair day will be on February 20 from 1-5 PM on the grounds of Ecotone headquarters, 129 Industry Lane, Forest Hill, MD 21050. JAMSQUAD’s third permanent program is a summer camp to enrich childhood STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education for disadvantaged youth.
You may have heard that our nation’s interest in cycling went up during the Covid-19 pandemic, as families stuck at home were looking for ways to get outside. JAMSQUAD was able to support the efforts of Dunbar High school physical education teacher Alex Clark in Washington, DC to do just that. To keep his students active and safe during their time learning at home, Clark organized group rides with his students. He raised money for helmets and safety equipment, bikes, and a U-Haul to pick up donations. JAMSQUAD played a big role in getting bikes to Clark and his group of student cyclists that has grown to about 100 riders.
If you’re interested in supporting the important work of JAMSQUAD to help people enjoy the outdoors, they are welcoming new volunteers to their team. You don’t have to be a bike mechanic: they can use a hand in facilitating community bike repair events from checking bikes in and cleaning them up to assisting with their larger fundraising events like BACX. Check out JAMSQUAD Cycling on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date on their upcoming events and programs. Ecotone looks forward to continuing to support JAMSQUAD as their reach expands throughout beautiful Harford County and beyond.