This weekend, as a precursor to Valentine's, some spirited Silicon Valley folks decided to have a pillow fight in downtown San Jose's Chavez Park. Although we pride ourselves on our innovation here in the valley, the modern day urban pillow fight was re-invented in Toronto, Ontario several years ago. Numerous North American cities have done the pillow fight thing, so on the pillow fight world stage we're just followers.
In an article in this morning's paper, the Silicon Valley spin was that this was a "flashmob" and spoke of the role that uber-tech innovations such as Twitter and Facebook had in getting the crowd to the event (even stretching the link to Tahrir Square in Egypt). But that's like saying "Golly gee folks actually use automobiles to get to Sharks games just like they do at the Superbowl" ...yawn. Not much of a flashmob when your own newpaper writes about it several days before.
But how is this valley of almost two million starting to change in a positive way, and in a positive way for bikes? Well, several years ago, while Justin Beiber was just learning to crawl, who had heard of the San Jose Bike Party, Silicon Valley Roller Girls, Bike Soiree, East Bay Bike Party, or even Via Velo?
We had not yet experienced the thrill of bike jousting, or the San Jose Bike Party bagpiper, also known as Joshua Agee. Treat-bot, the mobile mashing of karaoke and ice cream that follows the ride every third Friday had yet to hit the streets. Shorty Fatz, the locally cool and custom bikes were a few years off. But things are starting to change here.
In a city that until recently discouraged outdoor dining, street food carts, and pedestrian malls its a bit of a stretch to grasp the concepts of the urban playground movement and participatory amusement; but encouraging signs are starting to appear. San Jose's own Bike Party reaches 4,000 participants in the summertime, San Jose Fixed's Alley Cat rides are a regular occurrence, and the Silicon Valley Roller Girls sponsor two girls teams (7-17), giving them another avenue to stay active.
So it is encouraging that locals are starting to create their own recreation and entertainment, but it comes as no surprise that the creative spark comes the cycling community. Whether its the self reliance that comes with learning to fix your own ride, the joy of creating a mobile sound stage to show your cycling comrades, or the sense of being part of a growing community, Silicon Valley cyclists are creating their own adventures and in a small way changing their world and changing their community.
What do you think? Any other new shifts you see in the area? Let us know.
pillowfight - Prple Shooter
bagpiper- Richard Masoner (Cyclelicio.us)