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[Warmshowers.org] January 2017 Newsletter - long version

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Welcome to the Warm Showers Newsletter!
Dear Members
 
Thanks for reading our January 2017 newsletter.  Happy New Year!  Let me start out by thanking the community for supporting Warmshowers financially.  We had a succesful fundraiser at the end of 2016, which has enabled us to hire a website firm to move forward with our website improvements.  Specfically we will be making the site "responsive," or more easily viewed on different devices, improving the member interface and consolidating and simplifying the backend of the website.
 
Later this month we will be removing inactive users.  It’s a lot!  Nearly 1/4 of all Warmshowers accounts are “inactive,” defined as not logging into the website in the last year.  This should help by removing host accounts that don’t actually exist, and also those that may have become inactive for one reason or another.  This is an annual activity that will occur in January, which should help keep the map clean and populated with hosts that want guests.  
 
We have welcomed two new board members to the organization.  They are Jack Turner and Bruce Squire. Jack is a long-time volunteer and help desk master. Bruce has extensive non-profit leadership experience and is also an attorney.  Both are hosts and users of Warmshowers.
 
Finally, a quick survey question here.

Stories of the road
Vero and Gab

A Reflection On Hosting - by Vera van de Nieuwenhof

I have rejected requests to host cyclists far too often. My excuse is that I am "too busy"! When I am out on a bike tour, I wallow and luxuriate in the abundance of time on my hands. However, as soon as I am home once again, I forget far too quickly how it felt to be so relaxed and carefree. There is the daily grind of work that imposes. One also gets caught up with emails and social obligations. Naturally, I feel obliged to return the hospitality I have enjoyed on the road, but life simply gets in the way. Since I live in the extremely popular bike-touring city of Amsterdam, I receive so many requests to host, that at times it becomes a burden just replying, let alone host!

I know all of these are poor excuses for not hosting, as well as being a blight for the warmshowers community. As a result, a couple of years ago, I chose to mend my ways and make more of an effort.

This year I got back on the road once again, and experienced eye-opening instances of generous hospitality. They were experiences that changed my attitude towards hosting forever. As I traveled through Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Iran and Tajikistan, I met plenty of people who were often poor, and leading very busy lives trying to make ends meet. Yet their generosity of time and space for guests was unmatched. This was especially so in the Muslim countries. In Islamic culture there is a saying: 'A guest is a gift from god'. And so it was that I was treated like a gift, rather than as a burden. There was Hosein, who holds down three jobs, yet still found the time and energy to pick me up from a busy highway in Tehran when I got lost. Another was Coskun, who trusted me enough to allow me to stay in his home for a full week, even though he needed to leave to attend to urgent family matters. Then of course there was Ali, who took great pride in showing me around his town for two full days. Every single host made me feel like I was part of the family, and urged me to come back soon.

The big lesson I learned from this trip is that, as a host, a guest should never be seen to be a burden, or someone who encroaches on ones time and space. A guest is indeed a blessing for a home; someone who brings inspiration and fun. And they also give me as a host the opportunity to be a more generous human being. Hosting fellow cyclists should never be seen to be an 'obligation', but rather as an opportunity and an honour.

So, with this new understanding and attitude towards being a host, I will return to Amsterdam, eagerly anticipating the arrival of my next warmshowers guests.

Read Vera's travel blog at: http://www.oufti.nl

Stories of the road
On the move

Team Warmshowers.org on the Move!

Warmshowers leadership and volunteers are entwined in this wonderful community. Many were able to hit the road in 2016:

Seth

In June of 2016, Executive Director, Seth Portner toured across Utah for a week. This trip included the remote Burro Trail, a 100 stretch of mostly dirt roads that starts in Boulder, Utah and ends at the Bullfrog Marina on Lake Powell. Triple digit temperatures (Fahrenheit) were the norm, and water was scarce, however jaw dropping scenery was plentiful.

Len Bulmer, board member and treasurer, cycled about 3000 kms in June and July. He cycled down the Mississippi River through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois (which was much hillier than he thought it would be) and through the American mid-west of Indiana and Ohio. He camped most of the time, stayed with about a dozen Warmshowers hosts and, stayed in cheap hotels the few nights when terrible thunderstorm weather threatened.

Len celebrates a great trip; great conversations with people on the way, and the many wonderful people who fed him, let him sleep in their beds, couches, backyards and in one case on a garage floor. The snow is deep at his home in Canada right now, but he can hardly wait to get out there again in 2017!

Ken on the move

In addition to a few over night tours, Ken Francis, board member and registrar, completed 2 tours this year. The first was a two-week solo tour from Butte, Montana, to Bismarck, North Dakota in the United States. Ken averaged about 80 miles a day on this 750 mile trip. In September, he met up with Warmshowers member Philip Robinson (Seattle, Washington, USA) in Zurich, Switzerland, and cycled the Rhine River/Euro Velo 15, to Amsterdam. Ken and Philip met up with fellow Board member Cyril Wendl for an afternoon in Zurich.

At the trip’s end, they stayed with a couple in Amsterdam whom Ken had hosted in California the year before, and both stayed with Martien Deijsselberg, who had hosted Ken on a previous trip. Ken returned from this trip to a busy hosting season along the California Pacific Coast.
Ken on the move
“I am fascinated by how many people I have stayed with or hosted have known other cyclists I have stayed with or hosted. This truly is an amazing community!”

Richard

Richard Roussy (Warmshowers Facebook lead) spent the month of June this year collecting miles for a cause: The Great Cycle Challenge to Fight Kid’s Cancer. For Sick Kids Foundation. He met his funding goal and surpassed his mileage goal!
Then on the first of July, he set out on a short local tour, ultimately to go to an appointment with a specialist about his back. Since he is retired and has time, he decided to make a tour out of it. About three quarters of the tour was by highway but a quarter of it was the Kettle Valley Rail Grade and the Myra Canyon Trestles. This tour was about 400 miles. He returned to host Jasmine Reese who has been touring the US and Canada with her violin and her dog Fiji. Jasmine was his Warmshowers guest for almost a week as she attended fiddle camp at the local Selkirk College

Richard took a second tour the first week of August. He accepted a ride to the top of Kootenay Pass and rode downhill into Creston and the east Kootenays, his childhood home.

Stephanie

Stephanie Verwys, board member and secretary, cycled this year across North America, starting in Portland, Maine, and ending in Portland, Oregon. Experiencing the United States from the slow moving saddle of her bike was one of the most liberating experiences of her life. This was her first solo tour, and she found sitting down to a meal and a little piece of home over great conversation incredibly comforting. She says she met truly incredible people through Warmshowers! One woman she stayed with let her use a quilt that she had quilted during her cross country tour (sewing machine in her sag!). Others rode out with her to show her out of town, and some hosted her along with other cyclists so they didn't have to put anyone out. “As cliché as it may sound, every experience with Warmshowers hosts, as well as on the road, left me so hopeful for our world - if only we could get more adults on bicycles!”

Jack

Jack Turner (board and help desk) did 4 tours this year. He totaled about 1,500 miles with tours in Washington state, through the Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks, into the California Sierra Nevadas, and a trip into the desert east of San Diego.

Louis

Louis Melini left the Board of Warmshowers this year to be able to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. He and his wife covered over 2,200 miles in 187 days. 121 nights were spent tenting. Lou returns to Warmshowers volunteering with Trust and Safety.

Farid

Farid Hajiaqazade (translations, membership review, Facebook Warmshowers Iran) did some short tours in northern Iran. He also hosted bicycle tourists from France, Germany, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands at his home in Iran.

Warm Showers Volunteer Opportunities

Wondering where to set off to on your next cycling adventure? Love reading captivating tales from the saddle? Curious about the latest innovations in bicycle travel gear? Enjoy browsing through beautiful bike touring images?

Then head on over to Bicycle Traveler Magazine and download the latest issue.

Bicycle Traveler is a free digital magazine devoted to international cycle touring. It aims to showcase the best bike touring writers and photographers from around the globe. Each issue is packed with stunning photography and entertaining stories that will make you want to grab your bike and hit the road. You’ll also find in-depth interviews with seasoned cyclists plus gear reviews and touring tips.

Bicycle Traveler is published in English and is the creation of veteran cyclists Grace Johnson and Paul Jeurissen.

Download the latest issue now at www.bicycletraveler.nl

Please Have A Profile Picture

Warm Showers Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer Opportunities

As the Warm Showers Foundation grows, so does the need to increase the volunteer task force. It is only through the dedicated effort of Warm Showers members that we can sustain a free network of hospitality. Warm Showers is growing, and so is the complexity in volunteer roles and coordination.

Warmshowers is especially seeking help in two specific areas, one is branding and the other is someone to serve as the treasurer of the organization.

For more information and to find out how you can get involved visit the website's volunteer page.

T-shirts now available! Get one now.

Warm Showers is:

Chair: Len Bulmer (chair) Ken Francis, Bruce Squire, Jack Turner, Stephanie Verwys, Cyril Wendl and Russell Workman
Executive Director: Seth Portner
Volunteers: Rolando A., Jeff Beaulieu, Liza Burkin, Kyle Egerdal, Amir Eskandary, Lena Faber, Oliver Fourdrinoy, Diana Grasso, Michael Haeuslmann, Farid Hajiaqazade, Kosta Harlan, Andrew Hughes-Onslow, Kenichi Ideda, Clarisse Iméneuraët, Laura Juliá, Jie Lang, Chris Meyer, Laura Moss, Dan Murphy, Hodei Orueta, Gonçalo Nuno Pais, Abdullah Pekel, Jiří Ropek, Richard Roussy, Agata Śliwińska, Johannes Staffans, Dušan Starčević, Kenny Stewart, Gordon Smith, Rustam Tagiew, Vera van de Nieuwenhof, Jay van der Net, Linda van de Laar, Alexander Wyatkin, Kurt Ziegler

And more than 100,000 members worldwide!

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