Community cycling cooperative

Chico Natty’s Ron Toppi wants to start local bike co-op

Ron Toppi in Chapman bike shed

Ron Toppi in Chapman bike shed

Cooperative cycling
“Does Chico want a community bicycle co-op?” asks Ron Toppi, grocery manager at Chico Natural Foods. Toppi wants to start a local bike co-op similar to the one he founded in the state of Washington, where he moved from in October 2009.

Everett, Wash.-based Sharing Wheels Community Bike Co-op ( offers an array of charitable bike-related services such as its Teen Earn-a-Bike program in which at-risk teens get to keep the recycled bicycle they have learned how to fix, and Work4Wheels, which allows low-income adults to earn a bike by volunteering at the co-op. The co-op also provides bike-maintenance classes and “open-shop nights.”

“A co-op, or community shop, is owned by the community of people who invest their time and energy in it,” explains former bike-shop employee Toppi (pictured).

Toppi has secured a small shed in Chapmantown for the co-op and has already started a neighborhood-youth bicycle-safety program there. He hopes to start an Earn-a-Bike program for teens in the spring.

“If you are a bike commuter, a recreational cyclist, a tourist, a racer or a teen who wants a place to hang out and be with other bike freaks, let’s talk,” says Toppi. Contact him at <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,99,104,97,112,109,97,110,115,104,101,100,64,103,109,97,105,108,46,99,111,109,34,62,99,104,97,112,109,97,110,115,104,101,100,64,103,109,97,105,108,46,99,111,109,60,47,97,62)) } </script>.

HELP needs help
Bridgette Brick-Wells, executive director of the Healthy Lunch & Lifestyle Project (HELP), which provides freshly prepared, healthful lunches to more than a dozen schools in Chico and Redding, is putting the word out that she needs help to purchase much-needed new “catering bags.” The bags are used to keep lunches warm while they are transported to their destinations.

“At a cost of over $90 a bag, they represent a significant investment for our program,” writes Brick-Wells. “However, the bags are highly insulated and fit our bento boxes perfectly, they last for 10 years or more and represent our commitment to sustainable, environmentally conscious business practices. HELP needs 100 of these bags… We are offering to have them silk-screened with the logo of our sponsors. … If you or another business you know is interested in HELPing HELP, please contact us! … As a nonprofit, public-benefit corporation we rely on sponsorship and funding from the community we serve.” Contact Brick-Wells at <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,105,110,102,111,64,104,101,108,112,115,104,97,115,116,97,46,99,111,109,34,62,105,110,102,111,64,104,101,108,112,115,104,97,115,116,97,46,99,111,109,60,47,97,62)) } </script>.

Global warming makes Boehner smile

Ask a Master
Butte County Master Gardeners will be on hand at the downtown Chico Certified Farmers’ Market from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on Dec. 11 and 18 to answer questions about the use of “dormant spray” for fruit trees. Dormant spray—often an organic lime-sulfur spray or neem-oil spray available at nurseries—helps prevent damage to wintering trees caused by insects and fungal diseases such as peach-leaf curl. Also, the Master Gardener holiday calendar—full of year-round gardening tips and information—will be available for purchase.

Are you sure it isn’t pronounced “boner”? Read the Nov. 22 New Yorker piece by widely known climate-change expert Elizabeth Kolbert (who spoke at Chico State in March 2009) on the impending climate-hostile takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives by Republicans. Worth seeking out, “Uncomfortable Climate” includes such gems as this quotation from incoming speaker of the House John Boehner: “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen, that it is harmful to our environment, is almost comical.”

Opportunivore? Freegan? Wild forager?
Talk to me …