Fall 2014

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Amy Little: Full Cycle

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Lifelong cyclist Amy Little knows a lot about fixing bikes. After working in financial planning and banking, the former Peace Corps volunteer co-founded Working Bikes, a nonprofit devoted to repairing used bikes that are distributed to charities in impoverished or storm-ravaged communities in the United States and around the world. Her then-boyfriend, now husband, Lee Ravenscroft, began rescuing bikes from Chicago junkyards and repairing them in the basement of Little’s apartment building. Fifteen years later the organization works out of a South Side warehouse, complete with a retail storefront and repair shop. “It’s a tangible way of giving back,” says Little ’85 MMGT, who lives in Oak Park. Each year the cooperative ships 6,000 bikes to African and Latin American countries, where recipients can use them to haul cargo or ride to school. In Guatemala, Little says, recipients use the bikes to mechanically shuck corn. To cover shipping costs, the organization sells refurbished bikes no longer on the market. Working Bikes has about 40 dedicated volunteers, but those numbers swell on the weekends and during shipping parties, when the bikes are prepped and packed. “It’s a good, fun place for people of all ages to come and work on bikes,” Little says. “There’s such good will.” Working Bikes no longer salvages bikes from junkyards, but it does accept donations, including from Northwestern’s student-run Move In Move Out recycling initiative.