Faculty Blog

 

Manpower Month Recap

Zdeno Chara rides a fixed-gear bike to and from practice skates at the TD Garden. LeBron James always rocks a helmet as he commutes a half-hour to and from games at American Airlines Arena. Joe Maddon is often seen zipping around cities his team is visiting by bicycle. If you can forgive the Florida affiliations of the second two men, do applaud these folks, who have plenty of resources for much fancier four-wheeled rides, for choosing healthier and eco-friendly ways to get around.

Let us consider them, then, as our Manpower Brethren.  (But much, much taller.)

For the month of October, we here at Fenn tracked the miles we traveled not using a car. During Manpower Month, any form of transportation that doesn't require fossil fuel—biking, skateboarding, walking, kayaking—is fair for the boys to log. They could even log the miles their family traveled, if, for example, parents and siblings accompanied the boys on errands or to school. 2013 is the fourth year that Fenn has held a Manpower Month; this year brought with it another video featuring faculty traveling all over the globe by foot or bike, as well as a brand-new online mile logging system for the boys to report their miles.

A dry and sunny fall meant that boys, faculty, and staff had many opportunities to set the car keys aside. The school community logged a whopping 950 miles. This translates to 47.5 gallons of gas not used, and 930 pounds of CO2 kept out of the atmosphere. All this from a group of guys still several years away from their own driver's licenses!

I asked Lucian, an enthusiastic sixth grade mile-tallying machine, what the best part of going to and from school by bike was. "It's nice to see the school can make a difference," he responded. "It was exciting to see all the numbers tally up at the end of the month.  It was satisfying to know how much gas and carbon dioxide we didn't use." Lucian got his family involved, too; a parent would always accompany him on his journeys, and Lucian reports his father really got into the rides and enjoyed that extra time he got to spend with his son.

About a dozen boys were recognized just this week with some custom-made Manpower Month

T-shirts. (See the photo!) These boys logged the most miles of everyone in the school, with the exception of one eighth grader, Will; he was recognized for being the first-ever Manpower Miler to canoe to a destination. (It happened to be a pizza parlor close to Concord Center.)

It is crucial for the future that we set up the belief early for these boys that there are alternatives to driving in a car. Every year, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that 3.7 million additional cars join those already on the road. We are well over the 255 million automobile mark at this point, and that number is only going to climb. Later in life, when our Fenn boys do have the choice to drive or walk, we hope they remember their Manpower days and the health and environmental benefits of alternative modes of transportation. Maybe they will even advocate for better bike lanes in their city, or for more bike- and pedestrian-only paths that can link their communities together. Maybe, when they do need to hop into a car, they will remember the safety laws that keep everyone who shares the road safe and happy. Most important, though, we hope they remember that every journey completed by bike, board, or foot, does count on the greater ecological balance sheet.

Posted by in Cameren Cousins on Friday November, 1, 2013
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