Power to the Pedals: Wenzday Jane and the Culture of Change
by Bob Nesson
color, 32 min, 2014
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This documentary portrays the transformative vision and extraordinary efforts of Wenzday Jane, a young woman whose mechanical skills and innovative actions are reshaping her community. Wenzday Jane goes to the heart of the sustainability issue by offering practical economic solutions, and suggests that things don't have to be the way they are.
As a young child growing up in public housing, Wenzday's bicycle meant personal responsibility and self-direction. She watched her family struggle with dependence, disempowerment, and inertia. Determined to pull herself out from those inherited conditions, she gradually built up her skill set. Learning construction techniques and welding, she realized that she literally had the power to reshape her world. Now, with a passion for mechanics and organization, she is creating the means and cultural conditions to replace trucks with human-powered, souped-up bicycles for many local deliveries.
Shot in an intimate, lyrical style, the film follows Wenzday as she builds an organization of riders and cargo bicycles that work in agriculture and food delivery, composting, recycling and waste-hauling — and community building. We follow a rider making the rounds of municipal recycling bins, emptying bottles and cans into the bike's cavernous tank. Weaving his 300-pound load through traffic, he heads for the city's waste sorting facility where he dumps into a mountain of trash "just like any other gigantic truck." Wenzday reflects on winning a substantial contract for municipal recycling pickup. "I've always been interested in challenges — in problem-solving. There's an opportunity to learn something new by solving a problem."
Power-lifting a huge axle onto a stand, Wenzday disassembles a complex wheel assembly. "There's no alternative: you can't just take these to the nearest garage, like a car, to get them repaired." Her hands are covered with grease as she removes a planetary gear. "Bikes represent self-reliance and autonomy," she says. "Working on bikes gives me a platform for really thinking about how things work." By building a fleet of cargo bikes and creating a business around them, Wenzday is lowering the carbon footprint of our transportation system, one bike at a time.
“...an emotionally charged and inspiring film. Wenzday's story is extraordinary and highly motivating.” — Marion Stoddart, of Work of 1000
Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Best Film, Boston Bike Film Festival, 2014
New Urbanism Film Festival, Los Angeles, 2014
Capital Environmental Film Festival, Washington DC, 2014
Arlington International Film Festival, Massachusetts, 2014
6th Annual Environmental Youth Forum, 2014