TUCSON | Highlight #4: Brad Lancaster & Bicas
Brad Lancaster is a rainwater harvesting guru who took us on a tour of Tucson for one of the days. In addition to showing us how he has created a rainwater harvesting system at his house, he explained many of the community initiatives he has been a part of. In contrast to some of the other speakers we have had, he is addressing the problems in a more condensed urban neighborhood.
Some of his community work includes curb cutting in order to divert polluted street run-off, which would normally go to storm water drains and then into rivers, into vegetation. These are often planters that are pushed out into the road or within the center of an intersection, narrowing the street and/or creating a round-about, therefore slowing down traffic within neighborhoods. Through working outside on these projects, making the public spaces like sidewalks more enjoyable spaces, publicly displaying pictures of what an area used to look like, and providing community resources (like his outdoor rainwater washing machine), Brad attracts the attention and support of the community. As Brad was talking to us outside within the trees planted along his block (see picture above), a neighbor Brad didn’t know stopped as he was biking by and asked if we were involved in these changes that had been made. A perfect example of how simply putting yourself and your work out in the public can connect people and create community.
Bicas is a local bike coop in Tucson, offering community workshop space and tools, classes, used parts to buy, a work-trade option, and more (similar to Free Ride in Pittsburgh). We rented bikes from Bicas for a bike tour of Tucson led by Brad - the pace of biking and the ability to quickly stop and hop off to see something made it a wonderful way to tour a new city!