The Pinelands Creative Workshop (PCW) serves the Pinelands public housing district, developing self-awareness and personal growth, promoting a positive community image, and educating and uplifting this community and other disadvantaged communities throughout Barbados.
The Pinelands Creative Workshop was established in 1978 as a cultural education program serving youth in one of Barbados' most economically disadvantaged communities on the island – the public housing community at Pinelands (known locally as "The Pine"). Beginning with organizing Afro-Caribbean performing arts activities – dance, song, drumming – among at-risk young people, PCW expanded into skills training, job placement, anti-drug education, micro-credit, and even Meals on Wheels serving the community's elderly shut-ins. In 1995, PCW added the import, reconditoning, and sale of used bicycles, working with the NJ-based Pedals for Progress, to meet the transportation needs of local youth, foster mechanical skills and employment, and generate funds to continue its overall program work in the community.
In 2005, Bikes for the World became the principal supplier of the Pinelands bicycle initiative. Over the next seven years, BfW donated 8,158 bikes to this program--more than ten percent of BfW's total production over that period. Besides providing affordable transportation for recreational, educational, and employment use, the Bicycle Project generates revenue through bicycle sales to help subsidize core administrative expenses and other programs within PCW.
One such program is Meals on Wheels, started in 1997, which provides meals to elderly, shut-ins, and disable individuals in and around the Pine. With funds generated by bicycle sales, PCW is able to pay cooks, purchase disposable food containers, and contribute to the overall cost of running the vehicles to collect and provide food.
Our experience is that the introduction of used bicycles generates increased sales of new spare parts, and eventually new bikes, by private sellers. However, not all sellers see it this way at first. PCW initially encountered oppostion from the major local bike importer in Barbados, who saw the sale of inexpensive used bikes as a competitive threat to its near-monopoly. Complaints to government lengthened the time a BfW container took to clear the port and delayed availability of bikes for distribution--particularly significant at Christmastime when the community had bonuses available for purchases. PCW eventually overcame this obstacle, securing government approval, and continue to provide affordable used bikes to persons who could not otherwise purchase one.
These robust, dependable, affordable bicycles donated by Bikes for the World and reconditioned by the Pinelands Creative Workshop provide recreation, rehabilitation, transportation, and income for their new owners. Bikes are often modified by the PCW lead mechanic, a paid position created through the Bicycle Project, who often changes out the road bike handlebars and brakes for more desirable flat handlebar components. Children are also given the opportunity to ride bikes during the PCW community outreach sessions every weekend.
Many young residents of the 'Pines', as it is commonly known, can be found hanging around the PCW bike shop cleaning bikes and learning new skills. There is no official mechanics training program here, but one young budding mechanic, Frankie Hinds, found a job supporting this program through this shop. Read more of Frankie's story on our blog.
For Rodney, a bike was the difference between ability and immobility. Rodney ("Badness" as he is known in his neighborhood) is a recovering casualty of ghetto violence. Confined to a walker and suffering chronic pain, his universe was little more than the immediate block around his house. The bicycle gave him the freedom he lost after his injury and rekindled his spirit in life.