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[Warmshowers.org] August 2017 Newsletter

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Warmshowers.org - a community for touring cyclists and hosts Contribute to the development of Warm Showers, Donate!
Welcome to the Warm Showers Newsletter!
 
Dear Warmshowers Community
 
Thank you for reading the August newsletter.
 
As is often the case during the busy bike touring season, we hear from guests and hosts about proper www.warmshowers.org etiquette. There are two great resources on the website that can be found here:
 
 
The spring fundraiser was a huge success, thank you! We surpassed our goal of $50,000 raising nearly $55,000. The winner of the custom Warmshowers edition touring bike lives in England and will receive the bike just about the time that we send this newsletter. Here is a picture of the painted bike. We had over 3,000 entries that were a combination of donors and postcards. Thanks to all that participated.

 

 
The first phase of the new website will launch in late-August. At that time, the apps will be shut off. The new site is designed to serve all devices, and to function more like an app than a website. There will be some changes to how we all interact on the website, for example a reservation system which will come in September, where the host and guest will agree on dates for the stay and enter those dates on a calendar like a hotel reservation system. We have arrived at this method after conversations with the community, the board and the web-development community. We will be sending email(s) to all members prior to the launch of the new site to give more details. Things will be different, and we hope better. More importantly we are fixing some longstanding issues with the website around security, communications and functionality. Like all large projects, we may discover some bugs or other issues post launch. Please help us improve the site by communicating your experiences to me at seth@warmshowers.org
 
Do you have beautiful high quality photos appropriate for the Warmshowers website you would like to provide? We would love to have them, you can email them directly to me.
 
Finally, the forum posts should be related to cycling, hosting or the website. Ad hominem posts will be deleted. The rules of the forum are the same as the rules of hosting and guesting, be kind, be reasonable and be truthful.
 
Thank you for your continued use of Warmshowers, we are who we are because of you.
 
Best-
 
Seth
Stories of the road

Spolight: Canada

Canada is the second largest country in the world by land area. Canada has been putting together an extensive system of bikeways creating a Trans Canada Bikeway knows as the Great Trail. 2 great options for crossing the wonderful country are traveling coast to coast, or cycling between Alaska and the lower 48 United States. Warmshowers.org has a wonderful presence in Canada!

Warmshowers.org has a wonderful presence in Canada! Canada is home to over 6,000 members. One of them, Len Bulmer from Aurora, Ontario, is Chair of the Warmshowers Board of Directors.

 

Richard Roussy Castlegar, British Columbia

Richard has been a member and busy host for almost 4 years. He is also the primary admin for the Facebook Warmshowers page! Richard dedicates much time and effort into the Facebook group, reviewing new members and corresponding with several members daily. He is a valued host who steps away for a few weeks each summer to hit the open roads himself.

 

Francisco Pollari Thunder Bay, Ontario

Frank lives on the busy Trans Canada Route. He has been hosting cyclists for over 10 years, long before signing up with Warmshowers. He asks his guests for 3 things: 1. Take your shoes off when entering the house 2. Sign the guestbook. 3. Make sure you dip your body, foot, pinky, into Lake Superior! He doesn’t know the actual number of people hosted, but put it between 800 and 1,000! He has also cycled the world.

 

Peter Heebink Marsh Lake, Yukon Territory (South of White Horse)

Peter has been a Warmshowers member for 8 years and lives south of Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. He lives on the shore of Marsh Lake and offers guests several options for camping on his property.

 

Marvin and Darlene Kehler Portage la Prairie (West of Winnepeg)

Marvin and Darlene have been hosting for about 5 years and average 15-20 guests a year. They love meeting such interesting folks from all over the world. They have hosted cyclists in their 70's right down to age 11. “Our greatest joy is providing a place for refreshment, relaxation and re-fueling. It's so fun to feed a hungry cyclist who has sometimes had a hard day on the road”. They have even hosted a couple who were crossing Canada in January!

 

Cynthia Livingstone Dawson Creek, British Columbia

Cynthia and Randy have been hosting cyclists for over 5 years near mile marker 0 on the Alaska Highway. They also host with Couchsurfing, and it was through a Couchsurfing guest where they first heard of Warmshowers.

 

Erin Philips Sydney, Nova Scotia

One of Canada’s newest members, she has recently hosted her first guest. Erin says it was a great experience and that they are looking forward to hosting others traveling through Cape Breton Island!

Welcome to a new segment in the Warmshowers newsletter: Paying it Forward. We hope to share stories in each newsletter about the reciprocity of hospitality, the basis of this organization. The true strength and longevity of Warmshowers relies on maintaining a balance with both aspects of this community; bicycle touring and hosting. Keeping members active and engaged, long after the tour ends, is the goal.

If you have a story about paying forward what you have received while touring, please send it to Ken@Warmshowers.org

Paying it Forward: Ken Francis

Similar to riding a bicycle, a gift is best when it is constantly moving forward to the next recipient.

I did not know when I set off on my loaded bicycle in 1985 that my life would be so touched by the interactions with others. I wanted to get outside of my comfort zone and meet new people, and to be challenged in new ways. Basically, at 22, I wanted to see what made people in small town America tick. Without the beach, Disneyland, mega malls and mega gyms, how did people in America live? I didn’t know just how much of an impact these interactions with others would have on the course of my life. I was still innocent and naive. These experiences helped mold me into a healthier adult.

I did not know when a stranger paid my tab in a restaurant the impact that would have on my positive self-esteem. I sat in several diners; different towns, different states, but always the same conversation, “How many tires have you gone through? How many flats have you had? Have you read Peter Jenkins, “A Walk Across America?”” At the end of my meal, the waitress would inform me that the folks who were conversing with me from the next table paid my bill on their way out. My budget stretched a bit farther with each such personal transaction.

I didn’t know that when I rolled my bicycle into the Pennsylvania Dutch community that my life would be forever changed. For the first time, I learned what it meant to truly have a sense of community. I also learned about collaboration within a family, instead of competition.  This model, or lifestyle, has help me excel in my craft as a therapist as well as in my personal life.

And lastly, when I heard about “the list” way back when (the early incarnation of Warmshowers), I did not realize that one day I would be one of the gatekeepers for it.

Most of our readership can relate to all that I have mentioned.  Most of us have experienced the wonderful generosity of others while we were on the road.  These experiences, along with weather, terrain, mechanical and internal conflicts, shape the essence of the adventure.  The journey becomes something much more meaningful than just the accumulation of miles.  

I remember the gifts; the free meals, cold soft drinks, and invitations to come inside and shower.  The best part of the gift was the feeling attached to it.  I felt supported, cared for, loved, and very accepted.  

I have to admit, it was difficult to accept the gift at first.  “Why would somebody want to help a stranger?”  Besides, I had lost weight and looked emaciated.  I was dirty and I smelled. So it felt a little uncomfortable in the beginning.  I think when I looked up and saw the joy in the eyes of the giver did I realize the magic that was transpiring.  I had been given the emotional fuel to get me down the road another day.

I resisted joining Warmshowers for years.  Not because I didn’t want to give back, but because I didn’t have the means to give back in the way I wanted to.  I waited until I had the house and garden that could support the type of hospitality I wanted to give back.  Yes, I waited too long.  There was no need to worry about perfection.  Looking back, I see how my couch would have been more than enough for a weary traveler.

I have been an active member for over 4 years.  I am still traveling and have been hosted by many fellow Warnshowers members.  But the biggest joy I have with this organization is when I can pass along what was given to me 30-something years ago.   

I don't know the outcome of the gift.  We have taken travelers on hikes, moonlight kayak trips across the bay, and on the rare occasion, to Disneyland.  We have had travelers over during our various theme parties: the Dead Cookie Party, The Pennsylvania Dutch dinner and dessert, and numerous barbecues.  And many nights have been spent playing Doolhof.  We love and enjoy these experiences.

Some riders need a temporary stop from their daily grind of miles.  Some need a safe secure place to sleep after crossing this big city for a couple of days.  Others need support, encouragement, and a brief feeling of being with family.

The conversations during these interactions tend to blend the experiences together.  One such traveler was sharing with us and his companions how much he was hating his 2 month adventure.  Every moment of it.  I challenged him to see how he had grown into a different person because of his trials.  He may never do another ride again, but he was able to change his view from thinking about how he a wasted his summer.  More than food and shelter, I am hoping that the gift he rode away with was one of insight.

So it all comes down to this: I don’t always know when a cyclist leaves if and how we have been able to help them along the road.  I am sure each guest has had their own unique experience while staying here.  I do know that they all leave with the gift of connection, support, and hospitality that I was handed so many years ago.

Guests, Hosts, Trust and Safety; The Heart of Warmshowers- Louis Melini

When I served on the board of Warmshowers, my primary duty was to communicate with writers and editors around the world that wanted to write about Warmshowers. A frequent question was “Is it safe?” My wife Julie, and I will tell people about the wonderful guests that we host through Warmshowers. The response of astonishment is not unusual, though a distinct minority. “You allow strangers to come into your house and stay overnight!!” I then add that a few of my guests have stayed as long as 5 days and that I’ve provided them a key to the house. That solidifies in their mind that we are nuts.

Hosting traveling cyclists is something that we have done since we were married in 1982 through a former hospitality network. The numbers were small, perhaps 2 or 3 cyclists every couple of years. We joined Warmshowers in 2006, but it took several years before we received a significant number of requests to stay, but our numbers are still much smaller than many other hosts. We have never thought of hosting as “not safe”, nor are our guests as “strangers”. In our eyes, traveling bicyclists are more family than strangers, the younger ones are like sons or daughters and the older cyclists are like cousins.

We are not completely naïve about our hosting. Through the Warmshowers website, we are able to learn a little about our guests. We communicate, sometimes frequently, with our potential guest(s) primarily to see how we can personalize the hosting experience but also to learn about the guest. We scan the feedback on Warmshowers, when available, which is an important consideration in our decision to host. We have on numerous occasions have had guests referred to us by other previous guests.

We have trust with our guests and feel that our safety is secure when we see they have a thoughtful and informative profile. The profile is a helpful indication that others, including the guest, have vetted the trust and safety aspect of the process. Giving feedback on the profile page is important, akin to a referral.

There are occasions when “family” may not always get along and less than positive feedback is needed. This is always an uncomfortable position for both the recipient and giver of such feedback, something I fortunately have not had to do. Sometimes personality conflicts arise or certain expectations are not met that cause a less than positive feedback report. Sometimes improving the profile page can prevent these types of conflicts. Perhaps posting in the WS forums is a way to consult with others before the final feedback decision is made.

There are clearly some behaviors that clearly must be dealt with by giving negative feedback. Examples would be misrepresentation of the profile page, inappropriate behavior that makes a guest or host uncomfortable or using the WS website for benefits that are outside the mission of Warmshowers. Most importantly are issues involving criminal behavior that need to be reported to local law enforcement as well as direct communication with the Board of WS.

For the trust and safety of Warmshowers we need to have open and honest communications between guests and host. Creating a profile that communicates well and a willingness to give and receive feedback are the first and most critical steps.

Bike With Me

Bikewithme is a free platform to plan, join, and share bike rides around the world. The idea was developed by biking enthusiasts that started a non-profit association in the heart of Zurich. Currently this platform is available in three languages (English, Spanish,and French).

Cyclists can search and view details of all available organized rides within their preferred search like location, time and ride level. After a ride, participants can place a donation that can be split between the ride organizer – aka the Guide – and the platform - Bikewithme.

Stay tuned for additional languages, more cycling routes and a mobile app.

More info: bikewm.com/en/about

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.

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

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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