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Shifting Social Gears to Tackle Poverty, Recidivism

The Heights

By Alessandro Zenati

Outside the double doors of an atrium leading to Google’s Cambridge headquarters, in the center of the MIT academic nucleus, the sounds of derailleurs clicking into gear and handlebar bells ringing signal an encouraging transition in the mobility soundtracks of urban spaces all around the world. The City of Boston has embraced—albeit slowly—the potential benefits of this modal shift from driving to cycling, particularly as it works to achieve the objectives established in its Go Boston 2030 transportation initiative. Brandale Randolph acknowledges the power of life on two wheels, not only for the environment but also for individuals who could be empowered through the employment opportunities that he is creating at The 1854 Cycling Company.

The 1854 Cycling Company is a premium bike manufacturer based in Framingham, Mass., recently named a 2018 finalist for MassChallenge’s startup accelerator program. It acts as a social enterprise geared toward providing living wages to previously incarcerated individuals returning to the job market. The company also produces cycling apparel and has built up a compelling urban aesthetic and brand voice, as the name harkens back to the year that the Anti-Slavery Society first met and the subsequent burning of the United States Constitution on July 4, 1854 by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison in protest of American slavery practices. The company has firmly positioned itself as an essential link to the surrounding community and an agent for social justice.

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