Foundation Fridays: Hal, the Spokes-Man

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I just snapped this photo of Hal on a tandem bike with bike advocate, Ira Josephs. Hal and Ira were visiting some retailers in our town of Media, PA, hoping to convince them to sell Fair Trade Certified products.

As many of you know, the Untours Foundation is the small and mighty nonprofit that’s the other side of the coin to Untours, the travel business. We give out low-interest loans to innovative and planet-loving projects that address poverty by creating jobs for vulnerable populations. I’ll be blogging about our loan recipients, our donors, and other aspects of our work. But by popular demand, I am starting with a few stories about my boss and dear friend, Hal Taussig.

Seventeen years ago, when Untours celebrated its 20th anniversary, Hal brought his European and US staff together in Philadelphia for a lovely party. Entertainment included the music of an alpenhorn, hand imported by one of the staff members. When Hal got up to the microphone to give a speech, I expected a talk about Untours: its history, its future, and the great staff.  Hal did indeed start by acknowledging the amazing staff, but jumped right into a talk on bicycles.

Bicycles! He included the number of bikes in use in the world, how many more people were needed to switch from cars to bikes to reach the critical tipping point to save our planet, and why we should be some of those bikers. While Hal is indeed Mr. Bicycle, I could not have been more surprised. I’m still thinking about that talk, and Hal is still ahead of his time.

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” H. G. Wells, novelist

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