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A Micro-Granting Bike Parade to Celebrate Sustainable Transportation

On Earth Day, costumed, painted, and flying New Mexico’s state flag, we rode handmade bike sculptures in Albuquerque’s inaugural annual celebration called Junkado. This people-powered parade with a prize celebrated sustainable transportation, creativity and reuse.

The idea was inspired by three dynamic parade formats: the Mummers parade, the oldest running folk parade in America; the Peoplehood Parade, a youth focused community parade ending with a performance in the park; and the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby, a free wheeling bike powered celebration. The final component was born out of the meal-based micro-granting dinners we hosted that raised funds for local creative projects in Albuquerque. A/WAY held three sold-out dinners in 2012, and we substituted the parade for a dinner as our first micro-granting opportunity in 2013.

We believe that every celebration can benefit from a parade. This is a way to reclaim our streets and celebrate with communities. Parades unclog the arteries of our cities and open the flow of communication. People leave their homes to line the streets or join the procession. Inhabitants walk together in reclaimed streets creating instant connections between our disconnected paths.

Held in conjunction with the 23rd Annual Celebrate the Earth Fest at La Montinita Co-op, our parade allowed local organizations and individuals to celebrate their creativity and voice while inspiring sustainable solutions to transportation. Junkado is a reference to the elaborate Junkanoo parade tradition celebrated in the Bahamas. Our name is a play on doing more with what we all consider “junk”. The sophisticated term for this is sustainable reuse. An obstacle to artistic celebration is often the budget for materials and we are working with the local community to source materials typically discarded and headed for the dump or separated for recycling.

Every participant in our parade was marching for a cause they supported. Taco Kick, a local kickball team, marched for Animal Humane NM dressed as the animals they were supporting. Quelab, a local hackerspace, celebrated the sustainable principles inherent in their DIY culture. Notably their car free solution was a welded pulley that allowed them to pull a drum corps down the street on a trailer typically pulled by a truck. The silent hero in the mix was Albuquerque’s resident kinetic sculpture artist Jon VerPloegh who lent two sculptures to our teams and rode his repurposed wizard powered sculpture that he named No Van Gogh. We re-purposed his kinetic sculptures as a road runner, our state bird, and a festive pink taxi.

At the end of our parade we joined the Celebrate The Earth Festival and two of our groups performed for a $1,000 micro-grant created by donations from A/WAY and the parade participant’s registration. Typically at our micro-granting dinners, winners are chosen by the participants. With Junkado we left the judging up to our two performing groups and they mutually decided to generously share the micro-grant between their two organizations; Animal Humane NM and Duke City Classic, a local month long bike celebration.

We celebrated the earth by celebrating each other and created an annual tradition that will inspire others to dance for their passions, create art out of forgotten materials and creatively connect with our community.

Photos courtesy of Eric J. Martinez

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