Trike Campaign Update

A couple months ago we started on a magical quest to raise enough money to procure a Cargo Trike that would accomodate the entire Wrench Raiders bike shoppe setup. We have raised enough money to actually buy the Tricycle, and now we are waiting for a few more generous donations to be able to fully customize the trike for road efficiency while at the same time prepared for even the gnarliest of broken down cylclicious steeds.
A HUGE thank you goes out to Portland Pedalworks for providing us with an excellant Tricycle at a great rate and great service. They are definitely supporters of our mission and came through big for us!
Please be on the look out soon for more updates and PICTURES of the Trike!!!

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Creating a Sustainable Community: Your Help=Our Success

Most of our friends who live outside and are a big part of our community, don’t even know that we have a name, a website or that anyone would care to read the boring details of their life.  We try to keep it simple… Just create a warm environment where people can hang out, tell stories and encourage one another.  You would think we were a bunch of social magicians; people walk up with a problem, their mode of transportation is wrecked and their demeanor is down.  Then a couple hours later you see them, smiles stretched across their face, coffee stains on their shirts, full bellies and positive thoughts nestled in their minds.  Oh yeah, their bike works too.  Magic.

We are trying to create a sustainable community.  I think the first thing we think of when we hear sustainable is some kind of environmental initiative, and although we are advocating to that end by fixing bicycles, we want to create a community that is reliable and safe.  That is a hard thing to find… and honestly it can take years of practice and hard work to be able to facilitate that kind of place and for most of us, that is not where we are gifted.  That is my job, and it is an important one that depends on a lot of help from a lot of different people.

People just like you…

“But, C.J., how can I help you with this whole sustainable community thing?”

We need people who love our city, love people who live outside and want to see a difference in folks lives to partner with us on a monthly basis. You will be making a deep impact, opening up doors for transportation and health.  Most importantly, you will be making someone who feels insignificant and disconnected, a part of our community.

Think about it… Talk about it… Do it! Click here and consider the many different options for supporting us monthly.  We look forward to partnering with you on this adventure!

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News: 2.8.11

Friends, Supporters, Community:

Thank you so much for journeying to this blog, however you found us, Wrench Raiders values you so much!

I just wanted to throw out a couple quick updates for everyone.

For those of you who didn’t know already, the famous interviewed us recently and it went really well. Please check it out here.  We have had a tremendous response so far and are very excited about all the folks who are interested in joining the Wrench Raiders community.  There has also been a tremendous response financially through financial donations on our website.  I was a little blown away by the response and have been working hard to connect with people and tie up all the loose ends. Phew!

Also, I am not ready to announce any upcoming events and news, but just know that it is going to be huge, awesome, prolific and amazing.  Trust me!

In the mean time, you can follow us on twitter if you aren’t already.  @wrenchraiders is the address or whatever they call it.  I like to update little stories or happenings on there.  It is up to the minute… usually.

Thanks again for checking us out!

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We need your help

One of my favorite things to see is someone go from being sad, depressed, angry, confused, desperate, hungry, lonely and disconnected to happy, hopeful, joyful, satisfied, connected and loved.  That is what Wrench Raiders is all about: we create community with people and use the bicycle as a means to that end.  Whenever a rusty old trash-heap of a bike rolls up to one of our repair stands, we often see this kind of transformation in a persons life take place as they watch their bike become operational again.  It is a connection that is real, beneficial and beautiful.

I don’t want to over-dramatize the situation, but have you ever woken up one morning, gotten ready for work, piled in your car only to realize that your battery was dead? The feelings of desperation, panic and hopelessness come flooding into your thoughts.  We need transportation… in our society, our means of survival are based on our abilities to get from here to there on a consistent basis. For those of us who find ourselves living on the streets or in camps along the fringes of our cities, transportation is a daily struggle, a daily barrier to survival.

When you see people you love struggling, what do you do?  We created Wrench Raiders because our friends bikes were broken and we couldn’t afford to pay someone to fix them, so we started fixing them ourselves.  Then more people started showing up, we fixed their bikes too… and they found out that it was a safe place, so they stuck around.

Right now, we only have about $35.00 dollars left in our account to buy parts.  Once that money is used up (which will be very soon), it will be very hard to continue operating Wrench Raiders in the same capacity.  We need your help to not only sustain what we are doing, but to dream together about where Wrench Raiders is heading.  There are many opportunities staring us in the face, but we are severely limited by a lack of financial backing.

Please consider joining us in our effort to build community among people who desperately need it.  Please click on the banner below to view the many ways you can partner with us:

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Wrench Raiders Branching Out

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to team up with the Community Cycling Center’s Create a Commuter program.  The program delivers completely revamped and restored bicycles to a small group (about 12-15) of low-income adults who are trying out bicycles for their source of transportation.  The adults are required to go through a workshop that lasts for about 4 hours detailing several safety issues, helmet and seat fitting as well as route planning.  There are also two rides designed to practice traffic safety and to let the new bike owners get comfortable on their new bike.  We went to the NAYA Youth and Family center in Portland and were greeted warmly by the participants.  I was in charge of discussing some of the finer points of removing the front wheel on their bikes as well as making sure their seats were at the right height.  It was a very fun day and I am looking forward to joining future Create A Commuter workshops in the future.

These sorts of activities are essential to the vision of Wrench Raiders:  to build community and relationships as well as to engage and support the bicycling culture in Portland.

Check out the CCC’s Create a Commuter Flickr stream about this event! See if you can find me!

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Community: The Real Reason for Wrench Raiders

People often ask me what made me desire to fix bikes for people who are homeless.  There are many very good reasons, but the number one always defaults to community.  To me, Wrench Raiders is a way to create community with folks who have been denied community and relationship by society.

Melvin is a friend of mine who lives outside.  Most folks that encounter Melvin on any given day, as he rides his mint-green steed, towing an overloaded trailer containing all of his few and precious belongings, would simply place him in a huge, general, socio-economic class stamped with huge black letters: HOMELESS.  But on a cold day in April 2009, I began a relationship with Melvin.  I found out that he was not HOMELESS, but that he did not live in a home that has four walls, a bathroom, a kitchen and all the other junk that comes along with it.  I found out that he has lived a pretty amazing life and has seen a lot of things.  I found out that he has survived the horrors and tragedies of the most violent and intense war the world has ever seen and now chooses to spend a lot of his time creating beautiful pieces of Origami.  I have seen him lash out angrily at others when they have crept in too close to his personal space and I have seen him tenderly expose his vulnerabilities to others who care for him.  Today, he eagerly pulled me aside and showed me a certificate of completion for an anger management class, a part of his final hurdle to complete his probation.  I fought to hold back tears… heck, maybe I shouldn’t have… as he exclaimed his excitement to finally be through with probation.

Melvin has changed a lot recently.  He is journeying bravely through some form of cancer.  He is the only volunteer that Wrench Raiders has ever had (it’s just me and him, baby!).  He is experiencing community and feeling included in something for the first time in awhile.  He feels needed, useful and loved.  He is heart-broken when he cannot fix bikes on Sunday afternoons.  He sprinted towards me last week to hug me and see how I was doing after I battled a kidney stone for two-weeks.

Community is transforming Melvin, community is transforming me. Community is where we can forget about how much money we make or don’t make, what clothes we are wearing, how many showers we were able to take this week, if and for how long we have been on probation, our shortcomings as humans and just focus on loving people no matter what.

Wrench Raiders is just an excuse to hang out with some amazing people and hopefully walk a few steps along their life’s journey.  A few simple bike tools and the promise of breaking through some social barriers together makes it all worthwhile.  If you are interested in joining our community, whether through volunteering your time or contributing financially, feel free to email or click on the contact button on the menu.  Hope to see you soon!

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Welcome to our website!

I want to tell you a little bit about how we started, what it is that we do and what this website is going to eventually be.

The idea for Wrench Raiders came a few years ago.  I(C.J.), grew up in the High Desert of Southern California and found that I had a passion to connect with and build community with people who lived outside(you may refer to them as homeless).  We started getting interested in the idea of Bicycles as an alternative form of transportation and began formulating ideas to incorporate them into our activities with our friends who lived outside.  The idea came forward to create a small bike shop for people that included access to bike specific tools and free parts.  We would also try to solicit donations of bicycles that were in decent shape to try to open the doors to transportation for some folks.  We were able to fix a few bikes here and there but the idea never materialized like I had hoped it would.

About a year and a half ago, my wife and I moved to Portland, OR… Bike City USA.  We began to seek ways to build community with people living outside, following the same vision we had before. Once we got our feet wet and learned about the culture of Portland, we decided it was time to re-launch the mobile bike shop, only this time we knew that it would be succesful.

Since we launched it quietly in April, we haven’t stopped fixing bikes! You can find us under the Hawthorne Bridge on the downtown side most Sundays starting at 12:30 pm and blitzing through repairs until around 3:30 pm.  At first we were fixing maybe 2-4 bikes a Sunday… but now we range from 6-10 bikes, which is a large number.  Our mechanic force includes me and one or two steady friends (right now our volunteers are people who live outside, just trying to help out others).  We fix everything to the best of our abilities and all the services are completely free.

We feel that this is an extremely important initiative, not just for our friends who depend on bicycles for their daily transportation, but also for the city of Portland and the entire nation.  Bicycles are a very efficient form of transportation, have a low environmental impact and promote community (among countless other things).  We believe in bicycle advocacy!

With that short introduction to who we are, I would also like to fill you in on our website.  Once finished, you will be able to stay connected with what we do on a daily basis through twitter and facebook.  We will post updates on where our shop will be located and what times we will operate that day.  We will also constantly be putting up volunteer opportunities and financial and material needs as well.  If there is a particular story that will encourage you, we will post it in our blog section as well as any news and updates.  You will also be able to visually see all the fun stuff happening through picture posts and maybe even a video or two (no promises).  Most importantly, we want this to be a forum for you to join our Wrench Raiders community.  We are starting a bicycle revolution and it will spill over into our lives and we would love you to join us!  Email us at to connect!

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