Old Stone Mill Center Bikes Bound for Bikie!



The Old Stone Mill Center in Adams is a Zero Waste Maker Space. Most of the hundreds of bikes in the building have been rescued from landfill along with other surplus materials from local industry. Now 26 of those bikes are cleaned up and being sent to The Republic of Congo this Sunday.

This story began when Great Barrington resident Pauline Dongala visited the Old Stone Mill Center to pick up linen discards collected there. Sheets, hospital johnnies and scrubs were loaded in her car bound for a rural hospital in her mother country. 

During Pauline’s tour of the mill she asked about purchasing children’s bicycles for her container. Mike Augspurger, a long time bicycle engineer/ bike builder and owner of the Mill responded by offering them for free as there is such a surplus here. When she saw a rack on a bike she said in her country it would be used to carry people. She told of how much difference bicycles can make in villages like hers. The few bikes available in the region are used to carry goods, water, and even extra riders.



This captured the imagination of Augspurger. He has since made sturdy plywood decks for each bike bound for The Congo even the smallest 16” wheeled kids bikes! The decks are welded to the frame and made from reused bicycle parts. Each deck will hold hundreds of pounds of goods or people. Bikes are rare and a status symbol in The Congo. For children to have a bike their size is unheard of. Pauline expressed, “Supplying bikes for children will be a revolutionary act.”

Bikes in this shared shipping container will go to 3 villages, Bikie, Moukassi, and Bidoua.

Other materials from The Old Stone Mill Center’s Zero Waste inventory will also be making the voyage: 

– Seed/Feed and Brew bags in rolls of 25 are surplus here, but valuable there selling for as much as $5 apiece in the local market. They are used if available to carry cassava, charcoal and produce to market often by bicycle.

 – Bicycle inner tubes with punctures will be sent and used there to strap water and crops on a bike, like a bungie cord.

– Irrigation Drip tape from our farm fields

The container should arrive at port in 4-6 weeks and the bikes will hopefully be in the villages  by mid July. Mike and all the volunteers who have worked on the project are eagerly awaiting the first photo of Congolese children on one of the bikes riding to their new primary school!

The Old Stone Mill Center plans to continue the project. Volunteer bike mechanics and those who want to learn are welcome to contact us. More information about the project or to donate funds for bike parts is available online at www.oldstonemillcenter.org.

Pauline Dongala is fundraising to build a water well for the primary school, the first water well in the village. Donations may be made at her GoFundMe page for the project at tinyurl.com/bikiewaterwell

Bikes for Bikie

The Old Stone Mill Center takes donations of surplus materials from local sources. These materials are used in our Maker Space as part of a reuse inventory for remaking, repairing or redistribution.

Bicycle use is central to our mission, and it’s our passion, whether it is here in Adams or other parts of the world. We have been taking donations of bicycles at the mill for five years. As you might guess, there are quite a few (around 200) very inexpensive bikes, especially small ones for kids. These kids bikes have very few miles on them. We have started bike programs at Youth Centers, given them away, and sold them, but we still have plenty. That’s where Bikie comes in.

The Village of Bikie:  Republic of Congo

Bikie is a village in The Republic of Congo.  Our neighbor in Great Barrington, Pauline Dongala, is originally from The Congo. Pauline and three other Congolese have been sending containers of needed supplies to the Congo for many years. We met because she was interested in sending surplus linens we collect at the mill for her container.  That’s when we learned about her new project. “Bikie has not changed in the 19 years I have been in the U.S.”, she says. “There is still no electricity, no school, people still carry their water from streams. My siblings and I got together and decided to change that state of things by building a public primary school.”

“In my village, that rack would be for carrying people or things”.

It turns out that there are very few children who have bikes in The Republic of Congo. Most adult bicycles are used for utilities. They are a status symbol and rare. 

Children walk for 1-3 hours to get to school not just in The Congo, but many countries in the world. Just imagine if they could ride a bike!  Pauline enlightened us when she said, “ Supplying bikes for the children of Bikie is a revolutionary act.” 

This has started a unique partnership. The Old Stone Mill Center is now in the process of building sturdy plywood decks on our surplus kids bikes to add to Paulines’ shipping container to Bikie. These decks are strong enough to carry multiple people or 5 gallon containers of water.  We are also working on front racks, foot pegs, hand holds, and tie down straps to make these bikes as useful as possible. There are many programs that send bikes to the developing world. You may be familiar with Bikes not Bombs or the Buffalo Bike.

How you can help:

There are no programs that we know of that are sending kids bikes outfitted with sturdy racks like in the photo. Our goal is to expand this program with help from kids in the Adams area.  We hope neighborhood kids will enjoy learning simple bike mechanics for bikes that go to kids their age in the Congo. They can also be the test riders. It’s hard for us adults to test ride 16” wheeled bikes!   

Donate bikes especially cruisers, inner tubes, pumps, bike parts, new water bottles, water bottle cages: 

If you are involved in sending shipping containers with supplies for the developing world please contact us. Let’s work together. 

Donate money to drill a water well in Bikie. paudongala@gmail.com

Contact Mike and Leni at: info@oldstonemillcenter.org or call 413 634-5591 to donate bike related supplies or take a tour of the mill to see the bikes. Strict Covid protocol and an appointment time is all we ask.

» Great coverage by Scott Stafford of the Berkshire Eagle

Old Stone Mill Center bicycle sale makes local news

Local cable station, Spectrum News, came to interview us about our work making sure bicycles are available during the pandemic.

Bikes Being Rebuilt, Refurbished for Kids in Adams

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ADAMS – Mike Augspurger started building and repairing bikes decades ago.
And now he’s refurbishing and selling bikes he’s collected over the years, to help meet the high demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Rather than just have these bikes sitting around, waiting to be repaired, we’re scaling up and repairing them now in order to get them out there and people riding them instead of them just sit here,” Augspurger said.

Augspurger works out of the Old Stone Mill in Adams, which he and his wife are converting into a community re-use workshop and arts space.

There are dozens of bikes available. The only requirement is to make an appointment in advance, to ensure social distancing.

“Look online, Old Stone Mill Center on Facebook. You can see all the bikes that we’ve listed on there. And then call and make an appointment, and we can bring the bike outside,” Augspurger said.

» See the clip here

The Old Stone Mill Receives Grant from Mass Development!

Baker-Polito Administration Announces $1.9 Million for Collaborative Workspaces

Program funds physical infrastructure that will benefit entrepreneurial ventures at thirty-one local organizations

Baker-Polito Administration Announces $1.9 Million for Collaborative Workspaces

WORCESTER, January 9, 2020 — Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced $1,892,910 in grants to 31 organizations to strengthen community-based innovation and entrepreneurship in 22 communities throughout the Commonwealth. The fourth round of the Collaborative Workspace Program, administered by MassDevelopment, will build physical infrastructure to support new entrepreneurial ventures while spurring innovation and job creation at the local level.

“Massachusetts’ economy thrives when local entrepreneurs, creators, and small business owners have the space and resources they need to be successful,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The Collaborative Workspace Program represents an important tool for our Administration to foster innovation and drive job growth in the Commonwealth.”

“I’ve been proud to tour several coworking spaces around the Commonwealth to see firsthand how the Collaborative Workspace Program is supporting job creation and community building,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “I was pleased to announce grants today to 31 organizations, which will use funding to improve or expand their coworking spaces, buy needed equipment, or explore opportunities for a coworking space in their city or town.”

Lt. Governor Karyn Polito joined MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss, Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus, and WorcLab Executive Director and Board Chairman Larry Genovesi to announce the awards today at WorcLab in Worcester.

“This funding builds on the Baker-Polito Administration’s first economic development bill and three grant rounds we have supported since 2016,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “Coworking spaces are at the epicenter of Massachusetts’ innovation ecosystem, and we are pleased to further invest in these unique facilities in every region of the state.”

“The Collaborative Workspaces Program provides the infrastructure for Massachusetts residents to grow their businesses, advance ideas, and connect to one another with an energy that drives our communities forward,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Lauren Liss. “MassDevelopment is proud to administer this forward-thinking program on behalf of the Commonwealth, and we thank the Baker-Polito Administration, the legislature, and the Barr Foundation for their continued support.”

Through its first three rounds of grants, the Collaborative Workspace Program provided over $5 million in 81 awards for the planning, development, and build-out of different types of collaborative workspaces.

MassDevelopment’s continued partnership with the Barr Foundation broadens the reach of the Collaborative Workspace Program to include the creative sector, a critical source of innovation and positive community change.

“It is our privilege to partner with the Commonwealth and MassDevelopment on this investment in artists and creative entrepreneurs to bolster Massachusetts’ innovation economy,” said San San Wong, Arts & Creativity Program Director at the Barr Foundation. “In the supportive environment of these collaborative workspaces, they will develop new ideas, find new partners, launch new enterprises, and grow small businesses that will infuse vibrancy and economic activity in their communities.”

In June 2019, the Baker-Polito Administration and MassDevelopment announced the opening of the fourth round of program grants. Eligible organizations could apply for either seed grants to plan and study the feasibility of new collaborative workspaces, or fit-out grants to develop and expand existing workspaces.

Through the first three rounds of the program, collaborative workspaces have added 3,771 users since implementing their grant-funded projects, and occupy approximately 575,000 square feet in cities and towns across Massachusetts. Many awards have benefited innovation spaces in the state’s Gateway Cities.

“We are really proud of the grassroots innovation that has taken hold here in Worcester, and now has a home right downtown in the Printers Building,” said Representative Mary S. Keefe. “This Fit-Out grant helps to spread the wealth of our Commonwealth and allow for more folks to have opportunity for making and creating.”

“Congratulations to WorcLab on today’s announcement and I look forward to great things to come out of this space.  We’re seeing coworking and manufacturing organizations like this creating dynamic spaces for everything from entrepreneurs to afterschool programs,” said Mayor Joseph M. Petty.  “I want to thank the Baker-Polito administration and the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development for their continued support of Worcester and for subsidizing so generously the cost of discovery in our growing innovation economy.”

“WorcLab is grateful for the continued support of MassDevelopment,” said WorcLab Executive Director and Board Chairman Larry Genovesi. “Our goal is to create entrepreneurial opportunities for Worcester’s diverse community. These grants allow us to continue to improve the WorcLab facility and offer new and innovative programs to our members.”
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About MassDevelopment
MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth. During FY2019, MassDevelopment financed or managed 316 projects generating investment of more than $2 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are estimated to create or support 9,743 jobs and build or preserve 1,992 housing units.

Old Stone Mill, Adams – $75,000
The Old Stone Mill aims to be a community-accessible space for creative expression, collaboration, innovation, and zero-waste practice and education. The center will use this grant to bring the rehabilitated mill building up to code and allow the center to open to the public by improving the electrical system and completing water sealant projects and accessibility improvements.

» Read about other grant recipients on the Mass Development site

Compost heating test going well!

Our compost heating vessel, still being tested at the manufacturing site at AgriLab in Enosburg Falls, Vermont, is performing well, with core temperatures running above 169°F.  Even outside of the main box, where the heat would be entering the building, temperatures are ranging in the high 70s and lower 80s.

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System heat readout diagram from the compost heating vessel.

This is an entirely new, first of its kind, compost heating system being developed by AgriLab for heating our Office space at The Old Stone Mill here in Adams, MA. The heat extracted from this system will feed a radiant floor in the office, and possibly some additional space as well.

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We hope to see it installed for the start of the heating season this fall. Sensors placed throughout the system make it possible to track its performance. We’ll be getting a special blend of compost from TAM Waste Management, just up the road in Bennington, VT and when we’ve extracted the heat from it, it will be brought back there to exchange for fresh material.

CompostSystem

After initially entertaining thoughts of building a “Pain Mound” where heat exchange tubing is coiled inside a compost mound, Rose, our Clean Energy coordinator got a tip about AgriLab from a fellow fossil-fuel-fighting colleague. After talking, we found that Jason at AgriLab had been hoping to develop this application for a long time. They usually help farms compost material more quickly by extracting heat that can then be used on the farm. This is a kind of reverse goal, bringing heat from compost to a building where there’s no material just, for the sake of heating the building.

We’re proud to be hosts to this newly developed technology and hope to see it become commonplace where applicable!

The renovations continue!

Things are shaping up at the Old Stone Mill with first floor renovations well underway. Electricity and plumbing are being installed and the bathrooms, office space, sewing center and machine shop walls are framed and being finished.

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Mike and Leni have been trying out some homemade solar thermal panels after Rose let them know about experiments that Bruce from Berkshire Environmental Action Team tried. We’re looking into a temperature monitoring system to test out different designs. With so much sunlight pouring in to the south-southwest wall, it’s just begging for experimentation!

More announcements to come soon about more community collaborations and re-use efforts, including supplying discontinued linens to shelters in the region.  Also under development is the other clean energy heating strategy – compost heating system. We’re working with the folks at Agrilab, who usually helps farms with cow-power systems. This will be a rare system on a site that DOESN’T generate manure and waste. Stay tuned!

Old Stone Mill Center Phase 1 about to get underway

Phase 1 of the Old Stone Mill Center is now in the final stretch of the planning stage – getting set to start renovations this spring.

Phase1-firstfloor
Phase1-CentralFacilitiesTo get our onsite programs going as soon as possible, we’re starting with the core essentials for renovation – restrooms,  a utility sink, refrigerator/ counter area, and the fabrication shop on the first floor, a utility space in the basement and the stairwells.

The central area with plumbing will have a lower, more conventional ceiling height to maximize for efficient heating. This also allows for a storage loft above.

Renewable Heating/ Cooling
Phase1-Office

There will be a 300 sq. ft space to serve as an office and also an experimental small space to see if bio mass heat from a compost mound can extend our season.  This first heating experiment will be labor based free workshop to construct the mound using fall mulch, manure and soil, most commonly known as a “Pain Mound” (Named after inventor Jean Pain – learn more. ) Get in touch if you want to help.

Hot water from the sun…REALLY?
We strive to work with local solar companies/ and community collaborators so our hot water can be generated by solar thermal collectors. The mill is a center for renewable energy experiments, an opportunity ground for testing. Learn to assemble a solar collector in celebration of a state-wide push for 100% renewable energy.

If you are a company that provides what we need and you want to use the mill to showcase your project and encourage refurbishing a large space sustainably, JOIN US! Or if you are a student or political group and want to do a hands on build. …Help us ‘workshop this!” Get in touch.

Our current idea for low impact heating and cooling for the central area is high-efficiency electric heat pumps. This is a clean and efficient heating method using air-exchange. Because of it’s high efficiency, it is often combined with solar-generated electricity (photovoltaics), another option for the mill to consider. On-site photovoltaics may not be feasible, but, purchasing electricity through a green-offset option from the utility company or from off-site solar-farm micro grid cooperative could work.

TrombeWallSketchWe are open to your ideas. Living in New England as we do and working to transition to 100% renewables is a worthy challenge. The first floor of the mill is 7000 sq. feet. How do we heat it: with a “season extender” like bio-mass / heat exchange compost mound or a passive solar Trombe wall? How long will that last? We’re looking to experiment with these low-tech / high efficiency / non-fossil-fuels sources.

We have been going full speed ahead with our off site programming.
Accomplishments to date/ Offsite programming.

— 2016 —

• Bike program started at Youth Center Inc with refurbished bikes donated to the mill

Bagshare workshop at Council on Aging.

• Plastic bag ban introduced in Adams referencing that The Old Stone Mill will make bags for anyone who doesn’t have a bag. Plastic bag ban passed.

• Met with Aladco Linens in Adams. Agreed to take ALL of their linen castoffs  (previously landfilled). Over 3,500 lbs of clean linens diverted from the waste stream and stored at the mill.

Videos on Hands on Learning at Youth Center Inc.
Mike Augspurger and Leni Fried of the Old Stone Mill Center work with the Youth Center Inc. every week to let kids explore using tools, learning what things are made of, experimenting with bicycles and exploring the feeling of physics through play.
( View videos of some of our work! – They’re fun!)

— 2017 —

• Partnering with Goodwill Donation Center, Salvation Army and Current Art Place partner Dept of Solid Works.

Adams 8,400 Bag Challenge
Working with ArtPlace partners, Tony Mazzucco , Town administrator and The Adams Arts Advisory Board to build awareness of March 30 , plastic bag ban. The Bagshare Project/ Old Stone Mill Center introduces the 8,400 bag challenge = one bag for every person in Adams. 25 groups pledging 120 bags each signed up so far, diverting what would be equivalent to 99,000 grocery bags from landfill, Replacing them with 3000 ‘bags for life’.

New Bag Fact:
BagFact33

• Partnering with the Charity Center in Adams for linen distribution/bike program.

… More to come. Keep checking in.

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