The End of the Ride

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It is with sadness that we announce that The Otesha Project is no longer financially sustainable and will be closing effective December 31st, 2015.

Since 2002, Otesha has grown from a grassroots idea into a national, youth-led charitable organization that uses experiential learning, theater and bicycle tours to engage and empower Canadians of all ages to take action for a more equitable and sustainable world. In that time, Otesha has run 39 cycling and performing tours throughout Canada, with over 500 tour participants, reaching more than 160,000 audience members along the way, and even expanded into the UK, Australia and the Philippines.

When we started The Otesha Project nearly 14 years ago, we thought we were alone in our dream of cycling across Canada to spread the message that each of us can take small, everyday actions to build a better future. We had no idea that our frustrations and perspectives were shared by so many others.

A decade ago, young people everywhere were searching for options as they began to understand the impact we were having around the world on both the environment and social justice issues. Organics, fair-trade, composting, eating locally and reducing carbon footprint were fringe ideas. But the tailwinds of change were strong, and Otesha was at the right place at the right time.

Mentors and donors stepped up with support. Young people quit their jobs and volunteered as tour members across the country and in the office. And students across Canada welcomed Otesha into their gymnasiums, churches and community centers with excitement and curiosity.

The Otesha movement grew to involve literally hundreds of thousands of people across the globe, all connected by the simple idea that our individual choices can and should reflect the kind of world we’d like to live in. The Otesha community and message undoubtedly played a role in re-shaping the collective consciousness about how our actions impact the planet and its inhabitants.

Fourteen years later, we see organics in nearly every grocery store, curbside composting in cities across the country, fair trade products in so many coffee shops, sweat-free clothing options readily available, bike lanes expanding in all urban centers, and a growing urgency in the discussions around the need for systemic changes to tackle climate change and social inequality.

Thousands of Otesha participants, staff and volunteers had transformative experience in the programs that spurred these change-makers on to bigger and better things after their time with Otesha. These young people went on to share their skills and passions with other non-profits, create their own bike collectives and organic farms, bring a sustainability lens into careers as teachers, lawyers and doctors, work through political and government avenues to effect systemic change, and raise their own children as aware global citizens.

So let’s celebrate what has transpired over the last decade and a half, and look forward to the future with legions of young people whose lives have been impacted by The Otesha Project and who continue to rise to the ever-pressing challenges of climate change and social justice. Our shared experiences and hope for the future will continue to connect us as we walk our own paths and continue to strive for that better world we know is possible.

We will forever be filled with gratitude for all those that made the Otesha dream possible – the thousands of donors, staff, volunteers, tour members, board members and mentors. However you were involved, and whatever Otesha has meant to you personally, we thank you.

Moving forward from here, we invite you to share your own memories, photos, stories, and reflections about what this organization has meant to you, during the first week of December. November 29th-December 5th, join us in remembering and celebrating Otesha by using the hashtag #OteshaLove on:

We are also working towards open-sourcing all relevant Otesha materials so they will be freely available for whoever comes next in developing their own projects, engaging their communities and/or planning bike tours.

Peace, bike grease and much love,

Jocelyn, Jessica and The Otesha Board of Directors