Hey y’all this is Victor. I’ve never written a personalized blog post on Plan B’s website before, but there’s no other way to tell this story honestly. As many of you know, we’re (Plan B) involved in a vote based grant competition right now. You can vote for us by going to this link
The contest is put on by a magazine simply titled “Good”. They fund and administer competitions to much funding with projects. They seem pretty rad and there general concept of matching funding with populist democratic principles is pretty nifty. You can find out more here. http://maker.good.is/ I’ve spoken with the contest coordinator and she’s pretty wonderful.
When we started this contest, things were going well for a while there; we were in first place. We started to slip and we re-doubled our efforts, posting the link on Facebook and emailing it to anyone we thought would care. It was amazing how the community supported us and how people crawled out of the woodwork to promote us and cross-promote us. We seemed to be stuck in 5th place for a while and it seemed like no matter what we did, we couldn’t get un-stuck. Then something amazing happened.
A very nice lady, who happened to be a Yahoo freelance writer saw the contest on Facebook and decided to write an article on Plan B and our mission to give away 100 bikes to the neediest. I have never met this woman and she “friended” me on Facebook because we had a mutual friend named Whit in Kansas City and also because she had heard stories about me from Whit and she enjoyed my “sass”. Her words, not mine. Whit told her that if she and I were to meet, we’d be instant best friends.
That’s pretty much all I know about Maryam. She seems nice enough. I didn’t really know that much about her until this afternoon, but more on that later.
The Yahoo article was published on Friday morning and waking up to it was like Christmas in July. We were featured on the front page of Yahoo Sports! I definitely thought the contest was “in the bag” and I was extremely grateful for this random act of kindness, this gift from a Santa Claus that I’d never met that would help us accomplish our mission by spreading the word about what we were trying to do. The article was about Plan B and the work we do. It also talked about the grant competition and told people where they could go vote. Notice I’m writing in the past tense.
Every Christmas story has a Grinch. This one is no exception.
A few short hours after the story was published, it was pulled from Yahoo Sports by their editors.
I got in touch with the writer of the article. She told me that the only information that she could get was that the article had been pulled because, “This article also could be seen as promotional, particularly since it seems to be asking for readers to vote. It’s unclear how this topic relates to the assignment topic of summer recreation.” It’s asking readers to vote for a community resource to receive funding, you simpletons.
Really Yahoo? We’re not talking about the Presidential Election here, and even if we were, have you seen the latest smear ads from the Romney and Obama camps? How about the extremely slanted viewpoints depending on the news source? Furthermore, when the contest started we were emailed PR kits and drafts of press releases to share with media outlets. We were encouraged to ask the media to support our project. I suppose Yahoo Sports has a sterling reputation that just can’t be sullied and they took it down out of a sense of responsibility and ethos. Yeah, right.
What’s much more likely is that one of our competitors saw the article and complained to Yahoo. Without contacting anyone, they took the article down. The stupidity behind this decision on the part of a Yahoo editor is appalling and negatively impacted us (to the tune of $5,000).
A little more about Maryam, the writer of the article. She free lances for Yahoo and makes about $800 a month. She’s disabled and receives no benefits. Because this story was pulled, she won’t be receiving much needed pay for it. Nice work, anonymous complainer.
The whole situation’s just gross and unsettling. We’re still trying to win, but now we’ve slid down to 6th place. Do we have a shot? Maybe, but only if we get the word out and people take the time to get involved.
To that end I’m sharing this blog post far and wide. If you can promote us or let people know what’s at stake, please help. At the very least please give us your vote.
I hope this blog post doesn’t get deleted.
In case you’re interested, here’s the full text of the original article. Encouraging people to vote? Sure.
Summer 2012: 100 Free Bikes? Your Vote Makes This Dream Come True
Maryam Louise, Yahoo! Contributor Network
Many cyclists view the road and their bike as a hobby — not a necessity. However, for those that rely on their bikes as an economical way to navigate the drastic changes in the economy, a bike is a tool of survival. Aiding this reality, a group of dedicated cyclists are adding to their extensive free repair and education related services with 100 free bikes. To accomplish this, they need your online vote to make their dream for the New Orleans community come true.
Bike mechanics, tools, advice for free
Starting in 2000, Plan B (The New Orleans Community Bike Project) set up a space to provide crucial bike maintenance services. Over the years, Plan B has hosted a kids program, the first Bike! Bike! Conference in 2004, and gave away over 1,000 bikes in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. Since that time, they have continued working as a non-profit that is fully staffed by volunteers.
According to their BikeProject.org website, they state, “We help you maintain and repair your bike by providing a fully-equipped DIY repair space staffed by experienced mechanics where you can drop-in and repair your bike, build a bike, take structured classes and find refurbished bikes and parts at reasonable prices.”
Biking and quality of life
One of the fascinating aspects of the Plan B bike project is how staff take the time to lend a sensitive ear to those that request free bike services. For example, a separate class for women, ‘sissies,’ and transgendered cyclists was started at the suggestion of Plan B’s clients.
Since their move from 511 Marigny to 1024 Elysian Fields over the past year, the Plan B bike project has been busy detailing the list of bike needs for underserved local New Orleans residents. After careful planning and consideration, Plan B volunteers determined that free bikes were the most ideal goal. With that in mind, Plan B found an opportunity with a website called Good Maker.
How to make free bikes a reality
In the stack of over 100 ideas put forth for Good Maker’s recent grant, Plan B is close to winning at #5. In order to receive the $5000 grant and provide new tubes, tires, and safety lights for 100 free bikes, your vote is needed by August 3, at 12 p.m. PDT. The easiest way to vote at Good Maker is to use your Facebook login.
As part of the New Orleans community, Plan B is supported by local groups such as the Urban Conservancy, New Orleans Lambda Center, Bike Easy, and the New Orleans Food Co-op. If you want to volunteer or send a private donation, Plan B can be contacted through their BikeProject.org website.