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Comments from the Second Group of Apprentices

Kayvon Bahramian, Gainesville, Florida via Brooklyn, New York
kayvonToo good to be true? Maybe. Where else can you go to study welding, brazing, machining, farming, composting, vermiculture, sewing, and CAD? The CAT apprenticeship program offers all of the equipment needed, as well as a framework for exploring and honing ideas of what it means to be a responsible producer and consumer. While the skills I am learning at CAT are a requisite for a future in cargo framebuilding, the deeper value of my time spent learning here will surely become apparent with time.

Eugene is the ideal percolator for grassroots and DIY movements. CAT is located in a post-industrial cum residential neighborhood, where roosters can be heard crowing alongside the train whistles and highway overpass. It’s real. No sheltered utopia here.

Barrett Hafner, Astoria, Oregon
BarrettMy time here at CAT has been a very formative experience. I’ve discovered a love of designing and building things, and a true path to helping better the world. Working with my hands – especially doing technical work like welding – has become almost a form of meditation for me, and that in itself has made this experience infinitely worthwhile and given me a better understanding of my own right livelihood.

Additionally, I feel that I have been challenged here philosophically, intellectually, and emotionally to be a stronger person, and that has really helped me develop my values and beliefs to a point where I have a much clearer vision of the direction that I want to put my energy in. For me, these challenges have been incredibly rewarding, but I would counsel anyone interested in this program to be aware that, in addition to a set of skills, you are also taught a set of values as a part of the curriculum.

After I’m done with the apprenticeship I plan to be based in Portland, Ore. and become a Human Powered Network partner, building and selling HPM creations.

Matthew Staahl, Fargo, North Dakota
mattAt CAT we are learning that human powered machines are an integral and diverse art of all communities. Whether through localized courier distribution or simply by a leisurely ride through a neighborhood, these simple machines are vehicles for change. Through the establishment of an international community to community network of cargo bike builders (us) we will be able to facilitate distribution of ideas and production material on a more sane and egalitarian level.

Starting from raw unbent tubes, we are building cargo bikes from the ground up. The TIG welding instruction is exemplary as is the brazing. We get hours and hours of hands on instruction with the various tools used in bicycle fabrication (all the hand tools as well as the heavy hitters like mills and lathes). This is all complimentary to the history and theory that has gone into the various designs here at CAT. We also get a healthy dose of information from various local and regional cycling advocates as well as industry designers and builders to help give us a 360 degree view of the modern state of the cycling mind.

This is a study of how these beautiful machines are made and so much more. Being able to work in a garden to produce your own food is a nice counter balance to staring at molten metal and flickering flames. Sewing instruction not only teaches a valuable skill but helps put you into a makers mind set. The open dialogue with fellow apprentices and staff here at CAT on all things in the saddle and off is priceless. What we can do together, all of us, is just sitting there waiting to be opened up and examined and then put back together and taken for a roll down the road.

Ride Bikes.