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The other night I checked out the volunteer night at Bikes Not Bombs in Jamaica Plain Boston. At the end of the night, there were about a dozen volunteers working together to “flatten bikes” so they could be efficiently shipped to Ghana in West Africa. The crowd was mostly young adults with a balance of men and women.

Get your hands dirty with a wrench, flattening bikes to prepare them for international shipment, stripping bikes for parts, or sorting used parts.

Another great opportunity they offer is the Earn A Bike program, where young people can choose a bicycle they’d like to own, and then set out to learn their way to ownership. The youth attend a series of classes to raise their awareness of safety and bicycles and also learn how to disassemble, repair, and tune bikes, using their chosen bike as the focus of much of their work.

On Saturday, Bikes Not Bombs is packing up a shipping container headed to Ghana. They expect to pack about 450 bikes and a load of tires, inner tubes, parts, and other sundries for the Village Bicycle Project, which uses the bikes to help develop income-generating activities. The VBP also has an initiative based on a similar model to the Earn A Bike program.

Check out some of these other Make: Online pieces on similar topics:


Amy Smith and the low-tech solution

Pedaling forward with Maya Pedal
Maker Faire Africa, August 14-16, in Accra, Ghana
12 steps with Paul Polak
Creating solutions – Worldbike

Chris Connors

Making things is the best way to learn about our world.


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