Self Assessment + Video Links

No matter how many times I stand up to speak in front of an audience, no matter how flawlessly a speech goes or how practiced I am, I will find a way to mentally pick it apart afterwards but I’ll do my best to be as objective as one can be in an inherently somewhat biased self assessment. My speech on Thursday definitely wasn’t flawless and I wasn’t as well practiced as I’d like to have been, but given the fact that I flowed my speech and gave it based off signposting, I thought it went alright. I’d have liked to spend time talking about where my information was from, however I feel I still was able to convey information in a credible manner and I doubt the audience I had was highly invested in fact checking what I was saying. In the future I think I’ll devote more time to organizing my speech so that room is left for verbally citing sources as well as constructing clearer transitions and a conclusion.

 

Also wifi in Gillson is a lie and should never be relied on but the rehearsal videos finally uploaded & are attached below.

 

Speech #1 Sources

Mainly my source material consists of BBC statistics published on Middle Eastern environmental problems as well as a few articles from the EPA, (I’m trying to make use of it while it still exits,) as well as random things I remember from econ classes and researching environmental policy over the last couple years.

Speech #1 Write Out

Hello, I’m here to talk about how women on bikes will save the world. Well, if not save it, at least make a massively positive impact on a region of the world that, given the current geopolitical climate, could certainly use a little saving. Female bikers in the Middle East are growing from a band of brave revolutionaries into a larger movement and the social, environmental and economic implications of this movement are massive. Not only are these women defying cultural norms and leading a force of female empowerment in an unlikely area, they have the potential to affect change across the region, the specific impacts of which are threefold.

The first is of course that of the advancement of women’s rights, expansion of expectations and acceptance of female independence. In most middle eastern countries, particularly in more rural areas, it isn’t broadly acceptable for women to travel under their own power. In Saudi Arabia, women aren’t legally able to drive, but groups of female bikers are growing and pushing back against the general message from the government, church and culture that they ought only to use their bikes for “entertainment” meaning they only ought to bike around in circles. In the United Arab Emirates women’s biker teams are forming, despite conservative culture and potential harassment. The same goes for Egypt and Iran, despite the fact that there are those within the Muslim faith that interpret Sharia law as indicating that women cannot ride bikes. Women around the world are making the decision that if men can ride bikes, they can and should too, not only for logistics, convenience, health and financial responsibility, but for independence and advancement.

Now as a die hard feminist I could go on for ages about the myriad reasons women gaining equality in any context is wildly beneficial, but for the sake of expediency, I’ll stick with two. Now, if you weren’t before, I’m sure that after a semester at USF  you’re all at least somewhat environmentally aware and have at least a basic understanding of the impacts of environmentally friendly transportation alternatives. Unfortunately, the bulk of the rest of the world doesn’t have the advantage of a USF education and immersion in environmental protection initiatives. As a result, many of the major metropolitan areas of the world are incredibly detrimental to the environment, contributing to climate change and negatively impacting the health of their inhabitants. For many of the cities in the Middle East, Tehran, Cairo, Dubai, transportation pollution is the worst offender. But with studies showing again and again the benefits of biking outweighing the harms of exposure to air pollution and in fact decreasing those harms the more people bike, biking in cities, making it un-gendered and acceptable for all in metropolitan workforces does not have a disadvantage. The cheapest, easiest and potentially most impactful way to decrease the harmful effects of transportation pollution is making the switch to bikes. Cairo is largely considered to be one of the most polluted cities in that part of the world, Dubai is not much better. Through the end of 2016, Tehran was choked in a thick, hazy smog that claimed hundreds of lives, similar to the fog that recently descended over Beijing, similar to the smog that enveloped Los Angeles in the ’70s, similar to the smog that covered London in the ’50s. And if history is anything to judge by, those who lost their lives in the smog are just the beginning, as the number of those who’s deaths are related to the smog might not be understood until years to come. The environment issues in the Middle East are quickly transforming from a problem to an urgent crisis. A change needs to be made now, and allowing a large component of the workforce use an environmentally friendly and healthfully beneficial means of transportation would quickly kick that change into gear.

But what about the money? The monetary benefits of riding bikes are easy to track and understand, but in the instances of heavily polluted cities, those benefits can be much more far reaching than one might expect. Of course savings in fuel are an immediate impact, as are those of car insurance payments and car maintenance payments. But biking can, in the long run, save money in healthcare costs. Lets say every man, woman and child in Tehran who possibly could suddenly switched to biking. Consider all the money saved that would have otherwise gone to respiratory illness treatment, all the money that will be saved from going to treat a heart condition, diabetes, joint problems and the laundry list of health concerns alleviated by biking.  Not only do people tend to be healthier by biking, but improving the overall living conditions of a city make the population of that city healthier. So not only will day to day living and healthcare costs be lower for bike riders, but, as any econ 101 class will probably teach, the chain reaction of helping a nations middle and lower class workforce will create a net benefit nation wide. More prosperous middle class with more liquid assets equates to a higher GDP, higher investment rate, the list goes on. And all of this on top of the huge potential growth from giving women accessible and independent transportation, allowing them greater access into the workforce. The biking movement in the Middle East is bringing equality, hope of better health and massive potential financial growth. Maybe women on bikes won’t actually save the world. Maybe they will. All I know is that they’re doing a pretty damn good job so far.

 

Presentation #1 Outline

Intro: The birth of a movement

-Feminism in the Middle East

-Environmental harms & solutions

-Economic impacts of alternative transportation

1. Women on Wheels

a. Women in the workforce

b. Independent transportation

c. Defying cultural norms

2. Growing environmental concerns

a. The impact of transportation

b. The impact of clean transport

c. Changing trends in workforce transport

3. The economic ramifications

a. Lower cost of living

b. Middle class benefits

c. Greater fiscal stability

Conclusion: How biking will save the world

-Gender equality

-Environmental protection

-Monetary gain

 

Idea Tricycle. Because. There are three. So.

  1. Though, contrary to the belief of the incoming administration, hard and fast trickle down economics seldom completes its cycle of monetary trickle down, it’s impossible to assume that the impacts of said administration will fail to saturate across socioeconomic lines. Second perhaps only to the President himself, the person whose credibility has been questioned most recently and with the most fervor is the new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. Statistically bicycle usage within schools bears a correlation to the economic demographics of each school. Determining the credibility, or lack thereof, of Secretary DeVos will help determine possible shifts in public education culture, demographics, outlook, prospects and bicycle usage.

2. Greater gender diversity in a workforce stimulates greater development, innovation and production. With an ever worsening climate crisis, a relatively low GDP, societal, religious, and political turmoil, Egypt could use a healthy dose of innovation, diversification and environmentally friendly transportation alternatives. The growing trend of women on bikes is not only representative of the wind of change sweeping through Middle Eastern countries, pushing them forward towards greater standards of equality and acceptance, but signals the beginning of a movement that can begin to mend the climate impacts of major Egyptian cities.

3. For every possible action taken by humanity, there’s an attorney that specializes in litigating it when it eventually goes wrong. Cycling is no exception. The nature of biking, particularly in cities, lends itself to complicated arguments of liability when an injury occurs. In some cases the liability is held by the city, for irregularities or damages in roads and sidewalks resulting in a crash. In others, a driver may be found at fault and in others still, the cyclist themselves may be found accountable for damages. The moral I personally draw from every case of this kind that I’ve seen is HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE, but the legal processes surrounding any type of injury liability case are fascinating, and in the case of bike accidents, often high stakes.

Getting By

                                                            Early experience on wheels circa 2000.

 

Comic queen and feminist icon Amy Poehler once said that great people do things before they’re ready. Recalling my history with bicycles–and the subsequent perambulation down memory lane–has me desperately hoping that she was right. When I was six, my father put me on my older brother’s bike and pushed me out of our garage. The bike was a good six inches too tall for me, I wasn’t wearing elbow or knee pads, I certainly didn’t have training wheels and I honestly can’t recall whether or not I had a helmet on. But, in theory at least, I understood how to ride a bike and that day, the day I had to very quickly figure out how to ride a bike lest I immediately crash on the asphalt, I didn’t fall.

 

The page I chose from Strickland’s “What Every Kid Wants” spoke of how bikes taught responsibility and balance, while at the same time being that one impossible, hope-filled, childlike dream that somehow came true for so many children across the world. Perhaps it’s college student angst, perhaps too few years have gone by since my dad pushed me out of the garage for a shiny veneer of nostalgia to settle over those memories, but Strickland’s portrait of the place biking holds in a child’s life didn’t quite ring true for me. Bikes meant something different, taught different lessons, factored into a different kind of memory for me. The bikes I rode growing up were never mine, but always hand me downs from my older brothers. As a result, they were always far too big for me when I first began riding them.  But what choice does a child in early 2000’s suburban America have but to ride a bike? Though I wasn’t ready to begin riding when I did, though I didn’t have bikes built for my short legs, I rode my brothers’ biked as far as I could and as long as I could. Bikes taught me resilience, independence, and fearlessness. They taught me to look out for myself while simultaneously making do with what I had. They taught me that maybe sometimes, making do gave me an edge. Bigger bikes have bigger wheels, and bigger wheels move faster.

 

Growing up the youngest of four in a single income family, the mentality of making do followed me from grade to grade, from sport to sport, from year to year.  But it was my early experience with bicycles that shaped how I viewed that mentality. On my giant, beat up, black and white bike with thick tires and heavy chains, I could go faster than any of the girls and most of the boys I knew. When I started figure skating at age eight, I could jump higher and spin faster than anyone else on my team, even while wearing old skates and leggings from Target, instead of the $90 skating pants and $500 boots the rest of my team wore. When I got tired of watching my brothers attend Boy Scout camps and go on backpacking and camping trips all over California, I co founded and became the president of a co ed venture crew, and, with a used backpack, a tiny tent I was continually mending (and making lighter), and bed roll made of foam I’d taken a box cutter to, I summited ahead of the Eagle Scouts who joined the crew, despite their expensive packs and brand name shoes. From the day I figured out that it didn’t matter what my bike looked like or who had owned it before, I started applying that concept to many other aspects of my life. Biking taught me that, if my concern wasn’t focused on the tools I had to do the work I was attempting to do, but rather the work itself, making do could mean doing my best.

 

Personally, I found that Strickland’s work lacked universality in his assumption of the financial possibility of a child receiving a bicycle, but his rhetoric concerning the lessons learned from early childhoods spent on wheels bears an undeniable note of truth. During a phase of life so easily influenced by the outside world, seeing that world while perched on a bicycle will, almost unfailingly, impact and shift the life of the rider.