You may know Nick Richert as the producer of the “Bike Talk” podcast, featured on both KPFK And Killradio, but, besides being a regular rider and fervent bike advocate, he is dedicated to literacy. Though himself a man of few words (at least when he’s away from the microphone), he knows and respects the strength in words to spread both information and enlightenment.
Reading is empowerment; it connects you directly to the thoughts of others throughout time and space, in their own words, and your own skill with words lets you judge them without having to depend on someone else to tell you what to think. Dictators throughout history have sought to control access to literature and critical writing. Caesar’s army burned the library at Alexandria in 48BC; Hitler burned books in the last century before he started burning humans; and today, Texas fundamentalists are trying to restrict the range of books allowed to students, lest they pick up habits of critical thinking.
So Nick combines his two passions with the sporadic but relentless Street Libraries Ride, wherein a small group of cyclists pedals from one Little Free Library to another through Silver Lake and East Hollywood, stocking them with books culled from bookstores, public libraries, and their own shelves at home.
“Little Free Libraries,” for those that don’t know, are tiny structures set in front of stores, schools, apartments, and homes, and stuffed with books for neighbors to take. “Take a book, leave a book,” is the motto. There’s one in front of Flying Pigeon LA, which is where Nick usually starts his ride.
I joined the Nick and Jennifer Gill at Stories Books and Café in Echo Park, and Joni Young caught up with us a couple of miles later. We stocked libraries by the Micheltorena School, the Intelligentsia at Sunset Junction, and the LA EcoVillage. The EcoVillage, an “intentional community,” is, in fact, the birthplace of the Bicycle Kitchen, the home of Joe Linton and a couple of dozen other great folks, and the site of all manner of community events, as well as planning sessions for guerilla urbanism. It’s worth checking out.
And it’s worth joining us on a Street Libraries ride! Contact Nick via Bike Talk to get on his mailing list.