Campaign to watch: Notes to New York

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campaign: Notes to New York
campaign goal: $5,000
has been fundraising since: April 13, 2012
mission statement: “I’m biking across the country to help raise money for clean water projects around the world. Please join me and contribute in any way that you can.”

Notes to New York

Mail used to arrive on the pony express — now, Jon and his friend Brian will be hand delivering notes to New York by bike! Why the step back to the old days? They’re raising funds for clean water projects. We’ve been following their progress and asked Jon how things have been going.

How did you come up with the idea for the campaign?
Over the years I’ve developed a passion for bike touring and have always dreamed of making the trip from coast to coast. It started out with, “what if I could hand deliver notes all the way from San Francisco to NYC?” It kind of developed from there. As I began planning, I felt inspired to make the journey for a greater cause than just myself. That’s where charity: water came in. My buddy, Brian Hill, is traveling along with me on the trip. He had the time to spare, so I convinced him to come along. It has been nice to have someone along for the ride.
Jon and his buddy
When did you first hear about the water crisis?
I think that most people are becoming aware of the larger resource crisis that is unfolding throughout the world. I first heard about charity: water through a tech blog that was talking about the 100% model and the technology you guys use [used?] to track donations to the source.

As a bicycle tourist, you are always conscious of your water supply, and sometimes you ride long stretches without a place to fill up. Throughout our trip, we have also become very aware of the changing qualities of our drinking water. We are up around the Great Lakes now and it has been the best so far. There are artesian wells along the shorelines, pumping endless amounts of crystal clear water.

What have been your biggest challenges and encouragement so far?
I think it has been hard to keep up the momentum of our initial success from our first push as the campaign goes on. Most of the low hanging fruit has been picked in terms of donors, so the fundraising is moving more slowly now.

The biggest encouragement so far has been the huge amount of support we have received from so many different people through donations, reaching out to their own networks, and welcoming us into their homes.

Jon and the baby goat

What kind of training did you go through before heading out?
I had been preparing for the trip for just under a year, planning the route and supplies, and riding smaller multi-day tours out west. None of this truly prepared me for the rigorous riding day in and day out. The first two weeks had us climbing a mountain pass just about every day through the Cascades and Rockies. Needless to say I’m in great shape now.

Describe a typical day for you.
Usually we wake up around six, eat a quick breakfast and break camp. Typically we take a break every few hours to rest and eat. Once a day we try to find a diner along the road to load up on calories and talk to locals. We also like to finish the day off with a cold one if we find a dive bar somewhere near our camp. Usually we’ll stop by a grocery store to grab stuff to cook for dinner. By nine or so we are reading in the tent, ready for sleep. We pedal a lot too!

If someone wanted to start a campaign but needed some help, what would you tell them?
My advice would be to dream big and do something you are passionate about. There are a lot of people out there doing amazing things. I would encourage them to find a way to make it bigger than themselves and ascribe a cause or larger goal of a community to what they already love to do.

On the road

Do you feel like you’ve learned something through the campaign?
I’ve learned a lot and am still learning. I set out on this trip to break out of the nine to five mold I had been living in. It has been quite an experience. Now I just have to figure out how to pay my bills again when this is all over.

Throughout the trip, I have become very aware of how lucky we are to have the water resources and infrastructure that we do in this country. Having traveled over 2000 miles thus far, we have been very lucky to drink local water without any great fear of contamination. We so easily take for granted this luxury. I hope that through organizations such as charity: water this can become a reality for more and more people.

Jon and Brian will be displaying the notes at The Emerson in Brooklyn when they arrive in New York on July 28. The event will start around 7pm and there will be drink specials, a live DJ, and a “bring your own” meat grill in the back. All are welcome! If you’re in the city, feel free to stop by!

Bike across the country, bake bread, give up your birthday — you can do just about anything to raise funds for clean water! Learn more here >

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