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Inconvenient young riders pay sustainable visit

Quartet of bike riders who have just crossed the country make a stop at Foothills Park
by: Vern Uyetake, 
The Seattle students of An Inconvenient Ride got the VIP treatment from press and city staff Monday. Here, the quartet of riders gets ready to plant an ash tree at Foothills Park. From the left, Tyrone Hall-Deal, Sydney Fuller, Justin Marshall and Jacob Kenny.

When sustainable kids get together with sustainable adults, good things happen in sustainability.

That is what happened when An Inconvenient Ride rolled into Lake Oswego Monday at Foothills Park.

Four young bike riders from Seattle, as part of Project Earth Care and a day before Earth Day, were here to promote sustainability and to sound the call about global warming.

'It's been a long three weeks,' said 18-year-old Tyrone Hall-Deal of the 5,400-mile trek that started in Washington, D.C. 'But that was the point of the whole trip. To find challenges and to find a way to get through them.

'The main thing was to get the younger generation with the older generation and raise awareness about the environment.'

The youngsters were greeted by the staff of the city of Lake Oswego, who are working to make this city more sustainable, plus a blazing fire, lunch and golden shovels so they could plant an ash tree that will grow to be 100 feet tall.

The riders needed all of the amenities they could get since temperatures were frigid on Monday morning. Yet the chilling winds were not any different from the 'inconvenient' conditions that greeted the students over much of their long ride.

As recited by 14-year-old Jacob Kenny, 'We saw tornado watches, flash floods, thunderstorms.'

'The toughest part was Death Valley,' Hall-Deal said. 'We had head winds of 100 miles per hour and the temperature got up to 116 degrees.'

But this was a tough group. The youngest member of the crew, 10-year-old Sydney Fuller, fortunately had the great good sense to snuggle up as closely as possible to the fire.

'I guess we're now in pretty good shape,' was the understatement of 16-year-old Justin Marshall.

While Lake Oswego was close to the last of the 65 cities the riders passed through on their journey, it had an excellent report on its achievements in sustainability in recent years.

Pinch hitting for Mayor Judie Hammerstad, city Councilor John Turchi told the students, 'Our staff has grabbed onto sustainability and has run with it. They have done so much to promote sustainability.'

In fact, Turchi noted that Foothills Park itself is an excellent example of what Lake Oswego is doing to achieve sustainability.

'It was once a pile of wood chips,' Turchi said.

Now it is a lovely park, fit to join the lengthening list of sustainability achievements in Lake Oswego: Land purchase, flood plain planning, reduction of invasive species, carpooling, reduction of electricity use, adding sustainable features like LED lights, water conservation, and the etc's go on and on.

But city sustainability planner Susan Millhouser said, 'We're really only at the beginning.'

'We're trying to play the sustainability game,' Turchi said. 'We're not there yet. But we're working on it. It's not one big thing we've done. It's all the little things.'

An Inconvenient Ride actually made Lake Oswego one of its stops because of the city's excellent record on sustainability, including signing on with other American cities on the Global Warming Initiative.

The students' excellent adventure ended on Tuesday, Earth Day, with a big event in Seattle. From Hall-Deal, the high school football star, to Fuller, the cute-as-a-bug 80-pound fourth grader, the young riders epitomized what sustainability is all about - preserving the future.

'We want to leave you a better world,' Turchi said. 'We don't want to degrade the world then leave you the bill for the damages.'