Power of the Pedal event returns Sept. 7

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Two women use a bicycle-powered jute mill to separate jute fibers from agave leaves.  (Photo courtesy Dave Renfrow)

After 400 donated bikes helped power Guatemalan villages last year, Maya Pedal is again returning to Whitefish for the second annual Power the Pedal event.

Maya Pedal is a Guatemalan-owned nongovernmental organization that has been making pedal-powered machines from old bicycles since 2001. Old bicycles can be re-serviced into devices like water pumps, grain mills, corn cobblers, coffee bean de-pulpers and other machines.

This year’s event will take place Friday, Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. at the O’Shaughnessy Center. Bicycle-powered machines will be available for the public to operate for cobbing and grinding corn, coffee, cocoa and making smoothies. Beverages and traditional Mayan food will also be available.

This year Maya President Veronica Buch and her daughter Melody Juarez will present the Amazing Bicycle Machines of Guatemala during the Whitefish event and again in Seattle.

A silent auction and a performance by musical group Cocinando will also be part of the event.

Maya Pedal will also be featured in Design with the 90 Percent, an exhibition at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center that highlights efforts of designers around the world to develop affordable and sustainable shelter, food, drinking water, sanitation and health solutions for some of the world’s most marginalized communities.

While the recognition is an honor, the organization says no monetary aid comes with it and they are continually fundraising for the organization.

Last year Whitefish community members donated 65 bikes to Maya Pedal.

Buch’s husband, Maya Pedal CEO Mario Juarez Sequnajay, thanked Montanans for their support of the program.

Juarez and others founded the group following the Guatemalan Civil War about 20 years ago, and Maya Pedal has been working with Rotary Clubs International and Massachusetts Institute of Technology for designs.

“Our workshop is busy with men, women and volunteers for production of machines to raise up the people of Central American,” he said in a prepared release. “We thank people in Montana for help [to create] enterprise for families here.”

Dave Renfrow, spokesman for support group Maya Pedal USA, said that the organization can bring people together to help during a time of national disagreements and opposing opinions.

“Here in the U.S. we do not all agree upon complex issues such as trade and immigration,” Renfrow said. “But the good news is U.S. families can help keep Central American families together in their homelands with bicycle machines.”

Renfrow said while there will not be a bike donation station available this year, he hopes to organize a community donation program next spring.

Tickets for Friday’s presentation are $15 and available online at www.eventbrite.com.

For more information, visit Maya Pedal USA on Facebook or mayapedal.org.

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