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.

My Dream for Bike Month Part II

Google's charming original artwork for Mother's Day 2014

Google's charming original artwork for Mother's Day 2014

As we share with everyone this month that our Pedal Love Creative Services are available to help advocacy organizations artfully and cost effectively employ their marketing, media and special events efforts from the lifestyle bicycling angle, I've got a question for you - if you had an unlimited budget what do you think would be the best way to grow bicycling exponentially here in California and across the U.S.? What projects, programs and outreach campaigns are capturing your heart, imagination and really growing an avid audience - especially with women?

Did you catch this charming image above on Google for Mother's Day? Google is very serious about its bike-friendliness, imagine if they would help to promote national Bike Month (launched and hosted by the League of American Bicyclists in 1956) by posting fun artwork like the above to promote Bike to Work Day next year and perhaps the brand new Bike to Shop Day?

Leah Shahum, the Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition in an image by Lisa Beth Anderson.

Leah Shahum, the Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition in an image by Lisa Beth Anderson.

Yes, let's think big. That's what it's going to take to allow the bike to be the tool for optimism it can truly be. So I invite you to think beyond what you're seeing in bicycling and active living/active transit advocacy right now. Think about your favorite online and print ads, T.V. commercials, websites, apparel lines and other types of non profits or advocacy movements whose way of reaching out and sharing their stories are rapidly growing positive awareness of that organization.

This year the League of American Bicyclists has launched a series of mini social media campaigns on Twitter with special hashtags and engaging lifestyle photography donated by advocate organizations across the country. The goal of these hashtag campaigns is to illustrate the broad array of ways people can use their bikes. Yes, absolutely we can bike to work but we can also bike to the beach, to coffee, to a date.

We were delighted the League asked if they could use these two images from photo shoots for Pedal Love and the California Bicycle Coalition's brand new "California by Bike - Mainstreaming the Bike" web and print report by our local photographer Lisa Beth Anderson as part of the campaign.

One of the things we're strategizing on here at Peal Love is how to bring in sponsorship money to catalyze the creativity of bike advocacy outreach here in California and across the nation. We have the creative talent - the art directors, the photographers, the graphic designers, the editors, the bloggers etc.

Actress Michelle Williams in the new spring ad series by Louis Vuitton.

Actress Michelle Williams in the new spring ad series by Louis Vuitton.

Imagine if we had even a fraction of the art and advertising budget Louis Vuitton had to create this new ad campaign starring the talented young actress Michelle Williams? I first saw the image above of Michelle by photographer Peter Lindbergh in a 4-page pull out ad in this May's issue of Vogue.

For many it might seem strange that this lovely young woman is perched on a bike while she shows off luggage and a handbag - that is unless you know that Louis Vuitton has actually made bikes before. Yep. I can't find them on their website at present, but I found a link from 2012 promoting special Louis Vuitton bikes for bike polo and a very hip video.

Over the past couple of months I've been updating and growing my media list for focused pitching and our upcoming Media Webinars, and the next Active Living Plugged In training. To expand my thinking I've been following the story of the annual Met Gala held on May 5th this year. One of the most important social events in New York it is a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute reportedly raised $12 million this year. There are over 49,000 mentions of the "Met Gala 2014" on Google right now.

Before you send me an angry email about how unsustainably most fashion is produced or/and about the terrible working conditions of many people working in garment factories around the world so that we in the U.S. can have low priced garments - let me share that I agree with you. What I'm asking you to take a look at the power of fashion to capture the imagination (the media wouldn't be writing about it if the public weren't fascinated by it).

I have read about the gala, and the special new fashion exhibition that the ball is the opening of "Charles James: Beyond Fashion" in everything from The Daily Beast, the Atlantic and of course in Vogue (Anna Wintour the Editor in Chief of Vogue has also been the chair of the event since 1995. Glancing over the online mentions I see that the event has been written about in People, the Huffington Report, New York Daily News, CNN, CBS News, New York Times, Boston Globe, LA Times, Fox News...and it goes on.

Imagine if one event during Bike Month or even Bike Month itself received that kind of exposure? I believe it's possible. How about you? How can we collaborate to make it happen? I'd love to hear from you.