THE BEGINNING While working at Cycle U, Ed Ewing received a call from Chuck Ayers inviting him to breakfast. That breakfast meeting — with Chuck, Dr. Rayburn Lewis and Dr. John Vassall, plus Ron’s staffers Karen Wolf and Rod Brandon — was the catalyst for the Major Taylor Project, with the program concept all sketched out on a napkin. “It started out as a real honest conversation,” said Ed, remembering Ron saying he was “shocked” by the low numbers of diverse riders.
“IT STARTED OUT AS A REAL HONEST CONVERSATION.” –ED EWING, FORMER MAJOR TAYLOR PROJECT DIRECTOR
“Chuck came with an open mind,” recollected Ed. “He realized that Cascade wasn’t serving communities and people of color.” With support from King County Metro and Group Health Cooperative, Cascade began a pilot program that launched at Global Connections High School in Seatac and at the YES! Foundation in White Center, with Ed as the Director. “It was easy to identify where we should start, because Seattle is so segregated,” he said. The program did well “in places where the community leaders stepped up,” reflected Chuck Ayers. Leaders like Rick Harwood, principal at Global Connections and Pat Thompson, Executive Director of the YES! Foundation of White Center, were integral in making the program successful. “I want this at my school,” Rick said when Ed first told him about the program. And six months later, students were meeting for afterschool riding clubs. Similarly, Pat said: “When do we start? I want this. I want to start a bike movement in White Center.” Initially, it was Ed covering all the roles for the project, but very soon he would establish a team to support the initiative. Daniel Harm, who now works as a Professional Creative in Seattle, joined the team as the first MTP Ride Leader. Daniel recalled that one of his jobs was to find safe routes for the rides, which was a challenge. “Global [Connections] was difficult being surrounded by freeways and arterials,” he remembered.
Major Taylor Project founders from left to right: King County Executive Ron Sims; Cascade Bicycle Club Executive Director Chuck Ayers; Major Taylor Project Director Ed Ewing; Dr. John Vassall, Swedish Hospital; Cascade board member Dr. Rayburn Lewis, Swedish Hospital.
Another valuable addition to the team was Danielle Rose, the first MTP AmeriCorps Volunteer, who took on curriculum development, volunteer coordination and logistics. Daniel and Danielle were just the beginning of building the community, the culture, the family of the MTP legacy. PEDAL | 17