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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Building Community It Takes Faith To Turn Notions Into Reality

In Portland, someone thought of this idea: Let’s paint some bikes all the same color and leave them downtown for people to use free of charge. It will cut down on pollution and provide transportation to those without other means. And so the Yellow Bike program was born.

One day, a Spokane man, Jerry Schuldt, decided to borrow the great idea and adapt it to Spokane. His idea ignited the enthusiasm of others; they formed the Lilac Community Bicycles group. Bikes were donated and painted purple by volunteers, and at the end of June, 50 bikes were distributed in downtown Spokane.

In the 60 other cities with similar programs, some bikes inevitably have disappeared. But after less than a month in Spokane, almost all the bikes are gone. Some were ditched in the river; others still are missing in action. Why did the bikes totally disappear here? Are people in Spokane so poor that they steal free bikes for their own use? Or so coldhearted that they destroy property just for the thrill of it? No one knows the answers to these questions.

Instead of feeling discouraged, Schuldt and his group did not give up on this great idea. They will adapt it even more. The next batch of bikes might require a deposit to ride. Businesses might be asked to participate in an “adopt-a-bike” program. The group is not giving up.

Its tenacity shows what it takes to build “social capital” in a community. It takes a good, solid idea, maybe even one borrowed from another community. It takes enthusiasm and responsibility by one person who cares the most about the idea. Then it takes volunteers - lots of them. Finally, it takes faith. If the original idea doesn’t work as well as planned, accept reality. Then, try again.

In the July 6 IN Life section of The Spokesman-Review, writer Michael Guilfoil profiled several Inland Northwest people who have contributed to our region’s social capital.

These are men and women who have generated great ideas and then followed through. Their ideas contribute to our quality of life because they help those most in need: the poor, the hungry, the addicted, the lost.

In the past 10 years in Coeur d’Alene, Sandy Mamola and her unpaid workers have cooked and served more than 25,000 meals to the poor at St. Pius Hospitality Kitchen.

Each summer, Colville tribal member Pierre Louie organizes a Sobriety Campout on the shores of Lake Roosevelt, a camp to honor and support those who have chosen life without alcohol and drugs.

And 14 years ago, Spokane Valley residents Denny Ashlock and Joe Custer had the idea that the Spokane River and its recreational opportunities should be more open to all. Next time you stroll, bike or rollerblade along the Centennial Trail, say thanks to Ashlock and Custer and the hundreds of volunteers whose work transformed a vision into a 37-mile reality.

Good ideas come easily. Turning those ideas into a free bike program, a hospitality kitchen, a celebration of sobriety, a trail of life is much more difficult, time-consuming and frustrating. But it works. It matters.

George Bernard Shaw once said it this way: “Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness.” , DataTimes The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, EDITORIAL, SERIES - Our view CREDIT = Rebecca Nappi/For the editorial board

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