Wednesday 1 July 2020

Distinguished Gentleman's Ride: Social Connections Challenge

The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride is something I've wanted to participate in for a while now, though I never seem to have 'the right kind of bike', which is frustrating.  Fortunately I can grow a bad moustache as well as anyone else, so I've Movembered multiple times.

The DGR started in 2012 and has become a world wide event collecting millions in donations focused on men's health.  One of the main focuses of the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride is suicide.  Men are much more likely to do it and the DGR is now finding ways to support men socially so that they don't feel like this is a solution.  I've got family history with suicide and greatly appreciate the work this Australian charitable organization do around men's health, and particularly their focus on suicide prevention.  You can submit an idea up until July 6th, 2020.

I'm three of those things, so being mindful of suicide
is a wise approach.
As I was reading over this initiative I immediately thought of the various motorcycling cooperatives I've seen online where people get together and work on motorcycles, sharing tools and expertise.  The teacher in me likes the idea that this kind of mentoring could happen in a generational setting where both older men with knowledge and skills to share, could mentor new would-be riders who want to develop technical skills as they get into motorcycling.

Here's the goal for this project:

DGR continues by saying:  We know that:

  • The cultivation of healthy close relationships can increase individual resilience and act as a protective factor against suicide
  • Friends and family can be a significant source of social, emotional and financial support, and can buffer against the impact of external stressors
  • Traditional methods for engaging men about their health are often not effective and deter men from taking action for better health outcomes.
  • Programs designed specifically by and for men and reach them where they naturally gather are more successful.

O U R   S O L U T I O N  –  A N   I N N O V A T I V E F U N D I N G   O P P O R T U N I T Y :

Movember and DGR are proud to challenge the creative and forward-thinking people of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and the US to rethink the box and deliver innovative, concepts that lead to game-changing solutions targeting social connectedness, life satisfaction and mental wellbeing of motorcycle riders. For this initiative, we have prioritised middle-aged men who ride motorcycles and are dealing with key life challenges, and young riders in need of mentorship.

The focus goes on to explain exactly what they're looking for, so while I love the idea of a motorcycling cooperative franchise idea that would prompt shared garages all over the place rather than just in high hipster content urban locations, it might not be as scalable and on target for this project, but I'm going to pitch it anyway.

Here are the look-fors if you're thinking about submitting an idea (and if you've got one, you should):
The Inspiration Statement should describe the following:
  • Your inspiration for this Challenge
  • Who your target group would include
  • Your proposed solution to help male motorcyclists within your target group build relationships to increase their level of social connection, life satisfaction and well-being in an innovative and disruptive way
  • A brief description of your vision for the project beyond the pilot period
  • Project lead (and potential partners if known at this stage)
  • Project title
Inspiration:  I'm a technology teacher in our local high school.  This pathway began for me with my dad, who was a machinist and mechanic in the UK before we emigrated to Canada in 1977. We weren't well off, so if I wanted a car I had to know how to keep it going, and he always spent the time to do that work with me.  One day I asked him how he knew what to do as we repaired a head gasket on my car, and he said something that has stayed with me since, "if a person designed and built it, I can figure out how to repair it."  His mentor-ship led me to my career as a vocational skills teacher.  I've since watched generations of students develop their hands-on skills in technical trades.  I tried to start a high school motorcycling club a few years ago and got laughed out of the meeting.  Schools won't touch motorcycling, but there are other ways to introduce riding that benefit from the credibility and mentoring a teacher can provide.

Target Group:  cooperative education students (many of these are higher risk kids who lack male mentors), recent graduates who are usually forgotten by the system, young men in the community who may know the teacher from when they were in school, and middle-aged men who might even be parents of students; teachers connect through generations in their communities.

Proposed Solution:  MOTR Garages vertically connect men across generations.  Social isolaton can become particularly acute as men retire.  By recognizing and leveraging the skills and networks of retired teachers, this project provides a platform for older men to share their experience and expertise with younger men interested in motorcycling.  By giving older men purpose and an opportunity to share their experience, this project will offer a social space that many men lack.  Motorcycle mechanics offer men an opportunity to socially connect without off-putting social expectations.  While interested in the idea of biking, many younger men have no idea how to get into it. Through a shared motorcycle workspace, MOTR Garages provide a place for men to gather and learn around a shared love of riding.

Project vision:  Create a pathway for retired teachers to retain their links in the community and continue to share their experience and expertise with new generations of riders.  Schools won’t support a high risk activity like motorcycling, but many teachers ride and have developed mentoring and teaching skills that would facilitate the technical confidence many younger men lack.  Working through cooperative education in education and directly with men in the community, many of whom may be former students, MOTR Garages creates a space that values generational experience and sharing in a society intent on diminishing this connection between men.

Project leads:  retired educators with mechanical experience and a love of motorcycling; you'd be surprised at how many teachers ride.

Project title:  Mentoring Old-Hacks Tenacious Rookies  (MOTR Garage)