What the Great Storytellers Can Teach

This past week America lost one of its great storytellers, Dr. Maya Angelou. Most of us know her as a poet and author of memoirs, but she was so much more, a true renaissance woman born at a time when to be both black and a woman usually meant your options in life were very few.

Instead Angelou danced with Alvin Ailey and toured Europe in the opera Porgy and Bess, she worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Civil Rights movement, and wrote plays and movies and directed and acted in both. Many of us first became aware of her as the poet of choice for the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. And that is just a tiny nutshell of her vast accomplishments.

What Dr. Angelou was above is memorable. A magnetic presence. There was magic in her ability to connect through her gifted use of words. She was one of those women who only become more captivating and stylish with age. Her aplomb and vitality were such that I truly thought she would be with us for much longer. She lived to be 86, I thought it would be 106.

As we look for ways to inspire our communities and cities and states and country to let go of the sedentary pandemic that's robbing us of our energy and vitality as we sit through our busy lives - in the car, on the computer, watching T.V. As we look for ways to capture our short attention spans long enough to become truly thoughtful about the health of our selves, our families and our communities, let's be inspired by Dr. Angelou and her marvelous ability to move heart's and minds.

Style isn't just about what we wear, it's about our word choice and the way we speak, and our presence, our energy when we enter a room and move to engage our listening audience. Dr. Angelou inspired through a remarkable sense of style laced with a remarkable sense of humor and joy radiated from her and filled whatever space she was in.

Last October Dr. Angelou was one of the faces of the shoe line Cole Haan's 1928 ad campaign which celebrated several notable citizens born in 1928 including photographer Elliott Erwin, astronaut Jim Lovell and fashion muse and odel China Machado. The elegant and beautifully crafted campaign featured both photographs and video done in striking black and white and was lauded in the media around the world.

With all of the fascinating and gifted people who love to ride their bikes surely we advocates can find ways to collaborate with top talent and creatively capture the joy of bicycling through better story telling. If you had unlimited resources and access to the most creative minds in the world what sort of ad campaign would you like to see for bicycling? Let your imagination run wild. Let's think out of the box. Let me know! Share your thoughts here or send me a note Melissa@pedallove.org.