Critical Mass and Invisible Children

Tip of the hat to Beyond Vancouver for reminding me that today is Critical Mass, the mostly bicycle stampede that goes rootin’ tootin’ through the city streets each final Friday of the month.

Meet at the VAG on the Georgia side (you know, the fountain?) and be ready to ride by 6 p.m. Late updates will be posted here. Or, if you’re more of the “bicycle poser” type, head straight to the afterparty.

Then, Saturday, head to the Global Night Commute, an event to raise awareness and funds for the film “Invisible Children” about the crisis in Northern Uganda.

Northern Where? Yeah, I know, it’s far away and you don’t know anyone from there. But here’s the deal. In 2003, three guys headed to Uganda with a video camera. They came back with enough footage to make “Invisible Children: Rough Cut” and started a non-profit with a goal of making a feature-length film to highlight the plight of the children displaced, orphaned and in danger of being abducted into the LRA (the Lord’s Resistance Army, a paramilitary group that’s fighting against the Ugandan government. They’re seriously messed up).

Currently, 160 people have signed up in Vancouver to show up at the VAG on the 29th at 7 p.m. (If you’ve heard of the Gulu Walk in Toronto, it’s a little like that.) At 9 p.m. there’s the group photograph, and then from then until 6 a.m. it’s a sleep-in. The event is a little U.S.-centric (lots of references to your state senator, for example, but that’s because this is part of an estimated 50,000 people in 130 cities worldwide who have pledged to show support for the 50,000 children who flee their houses daily and head to city centers in Uganda to avoid being drafted into the LRA.

Thanks to Leader Notes for pointing this out to me.

1 Comment so far

  1. Ryan Cousineau (unregistered) on April 28th, 2006 @ 11:10 am

    Travis: good post, but I have to talk about the bike part.

    I’m a bike commuter. My bike is my primary means of getting to work, and I use my bikes to get to work year round, on some incredibly busy streets. You know what the problem with Critical Mass is? Their “we are traffic” slogan is deceptive.

    CM rides act nothing like ordinary bike traffic, even in cities that have a lot of bike traffic. CM rides look like a parade, complete with spontaneous intersection-controls against the lights (“corking”) and attempts to stay as a group rather than move with traffic as individual vehicles.

    CM doesn’t demonstrate the utility of bicycles as commuter devices (and in Vancouver, that utility is very high indeed), but rather demonstrates the utility of bicycles as a means of deranging traffic flow, in a spontaneous ad-hoc leaderless sort of way.

    Is that the message we want?

    It seems to me that individual bikes effortlessly threading their way through stopped traffic is a lot more powerful message than holding a parade during rush hour. And besides, the Margaret Charles rides sound like more fun.



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