Our work seeks to create a healthy community through a wide range of strategies. The goal of Free Cycles is to help Missoula, Montana transition to a more sustainable transportation system while simultaneously setting a strong example for other places. Through our programs we hope to help individuals we work with to be
active stewards of the community with an emphasis on social and environmental justice. We work towards this mission through education, empowerment, and engagement.
- Our education programs strive to give people the knowledge to maintain their bicycle independently, use it safely, and eventually share their skills with others.
- By increasing the accessibility of human powered transportation, we seek to to directly empower individuals from all walks of life with the ability to move themselves.
- Our projects focus on community engagement to facilitate a sense of collective responsibility, a strong sense of place, and human connectivity.
Bob Giordano, Executive Director and founder of Free Cycles and MIST, has been an active citizen of Missoula since 1994. Beginning his higher education at North Carolina State University with a Business Management major and Environmental Ethics minor, Bob was "always intrigued by the West." Once he discovered the mountains and submerged himself in the rivers of Montana, he could not go back to his beloved Blue Ridge Mountains.
He received his Master's in Resource Conversation from the University of Montana in 2003 and is passionate about social and environmental justice. He loves to engage on these topics with individuals and groups through conversation, public presentations, and creative forms of communication.
After learning and teaching about bicycles and healthy city design for the past twenty years, Bob is striving to create a more sustainable way of life for people and our relationships with the Earth. Other passions include enjoying music around a fire, promoting clay, spending time with friends and family, carrying a wok on long-distance bike trips or spontaneously planning a next adventure.
Emily Jensen is intensely passionate about community, nature, and the intersection of the two. She first immersed herself in an internship with Free Cycles and MIST during the Winter of 2015, focusing on climate change solutions and general organizational development. This involvement sparked an eagerness and motivation to continue to help. She quickly embraced the dynamic nature of the community bike shop, helping lead operations during Summer 2015. She received her Bachelor's in Social Work from the University of Montana with the intent to help the people of Montana who need it the most. Emily fulfills the role of Programs Director for MIST and Free Cycles. Growing up in the Northwest with ties to Whidbey Island, Seattle, and Kalispell, Montana, Emily has now rooted herself deeply in Missoula.
Emily can be found leading workshops related to bicycles, healthy city design, and just about any topic that brings her commitment for justice to the forefront of society. Several of the many things she loves include: gardening, soccer, cats, extremely spicy food, and any sort active pursuit outside.
John Bonewitz grew up in the suburbs of the Dallas Fort-Worth metroplex- where bicycles are few and sustainable transportation nonexistent. He left Texas and has spent the last five years traveling across the country. He has hitchhiked, bicycled, and walked thousands of miles across the land- from Montana to Mexico, Chicago to San Francisco. John knows what it means, in every sense, to be ‘on the road’.
Yet traveling is not about movement alone; it is the people, conversations, and human connections that brought meaning to John’s wanderings. When the road eventually brought him to Missoula, he found Free Cycles. Free Cycles unifies his aspirations to help people, fix bicycles, and provide alternatives to urban transportation models. John now works as a Shop Director, helping people facilitate their own freedom of movement.
Eric Leutzinger has been surrounded by bicycles ever since he began walking. His years of experience working in retail bike shops and collectives has provided him with a wealth of bicycle knowledge. Specifically, he has a deep love for old mountain bikes and lengthy bike tours. One of his most memorable tours was in 2010, leaving from Free Cycles pedaling all the way back to his home roots in the Bay Area. In his spare time, Eric loves hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, and cooking scrumptious meals. He also really loves sheep. Eric's involvement with community based projects, such as Food Not Bombs, has given him a better understanding of how to work through society's largest challenges. One of his favorite parts about Free Cycles is that one doesn't need money to fix their bicycle.
The sheer amount of volunteers who are enthused to help both Free Cycles and MIST is outstanding. Thousands of hours a year are donated by people coming into the shop. The diversity of people willing to help in any way is heartwarming. There are certain folks who spend time regularly helping out, people who are trading work hours for bikes, students meeting class requirements, folks who have to complete community service, and sometimes people passing through on a bike tour stop and help.
Photography provided by Brenna Ellis & Locke Hassett
Free Cycles has facilitated around 100 interns over the years, with all sorts of skills and interests. Please contact us if you are interested for more information about an internship.