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Tag: portland

A Dive Shop in Maine?

Are you a diligent reader of this blog? If so, then you may remember a few months back I made a visit to Virginia and DC. If not, that’s ok, welcome new visitor! Now, go read, “A Change in Perspective“, written during that trip. The reason was simple: My nephew is awesome, and he was celebrating his 1st birthday.

The scenario now is a bit different. I’m in a darkened hotel room (afternoon nap time) in Portland, Maine, with the same great family and a much larger (and now running) nephew. They are here for a scientific conference, and I’m here as, yes, babysitter. Sure, it’s a long flight (two, in fact), but what’s that for friends who are like family?

Part of the time has been spent walking around Portland. It’s really a beautiful town, with old buildings carrying a new vibrancy. The people exude youth, hip, and a social consciousness far beyond south Florida (we’re getting better!). Many restaurants feature vegetarian, vegan, and sustainable choices. And of course, there’s the seafood…lobster, clams, and fish of all kinds, well, more so the cold ones. Truthfully, only the cold ones. It’s freezing here.

Ok, ok, to the point.

Down by the water, there are fish markets, commercial operations, and…a local dive shop. As a Floridian, I would be considered a dive snob…warm waters, good visibility (clear water), calm seas, and easy access to the rest of the tropics. They have none of those qualities here, yet here they are, flourishing for over 30 years. How? Because there is always something special. Cold water sea life is very different from the tropics, though no less impressive. Corals and sponges grow more slowly, but to even greater sizes. Fish are more bulky and lumbering, yet come in shapes and colors I could never find in the Bahamas.

Just because the way you know is your favorite, or even the accepted ideal, realize there is always an alternative view. Sometimes, those can be just as impressive and expose you to concepts never before considered.

Of course, my thin blood means I wear 5 layers of wetsuits!

Full disclosure: I’m not diving on this trip, though I have done cooler water dives, with large amounts of insulation. A polar bear I am not. 

Bike Loans. No, not those bikes.

Thanks, cities of the Pacific Northwest. You keep making us look bad! First, you’re all about giving back, then you come around and show us all up with your fantastic bicycling culture. Last time I was on a bicycle was in my own community. I rode to our local Farmer’s Market (yeah, we’re cool too) to pick up some fresh produce. On the ride home, the tire went flat. No, both of them went flat. Suffice it to say, the bike doesn’t get used all that often. And it isn’t because of a lack of desire. Without hauling your bike on the back of the car, it’s difficult to ride anywhere in our area safely. Our bike lanes consist of a white line divided shoulder that looks about 12 inches wide. Naturally, this area intersects with vehicle turning lanes. Since I have a dark sense of humor, whenever I’m in a car which overlaps this “lane”, I comment how another cyclist was just hit by a car. It’s not funny by any means; it’s a sad commentary on our relationship with human-powered two-wheeled transportation. Down here in South Florida, it’s not uncommon to find people who feel bicycles should not even be on roads, and that they deserve to be run off them by aggressive drivers.

Because that makes sense. In a world with traffic jams, increasing fuel costs, carbon emissions, and obesity, we should obviously focus on demonizing the portion of the population which said: “No more”, and paved their own path on pedal power alone.

Commentary complete. Here’s how it connects with credit unions (because I can definitely geek out about the technology available for bicycle riding, but in the spirit of brevity, I won’t…today):

Those in the cycling community will read this and say, “well, yeah”, but for those of us not in the know, apparently a really nice bicycle is expensive. As in, not $75, expensive. Enthusiasts spend thousands of dollars on their bicycle.

A few credit unions in the Northwest, amongst some of the popular bicycle communities of Portland, Eugene, and Seattle, have taken steps to capitalize on this market. How, you ask? With bicycle loans! Just like a car, people want the best they can comfortably afford, and paying a small amount monthly enables many to get the premium ride they always wanted. The average loan amount is $1,500, which is small by most institution’s standards, but some borrowers are also becoming full-fledged members, creating relationships for years to come. Helping put more people on the bikes they love only grows the already large cycling community, enhancing the potential for their lending program’s expansion.

These credit unions are finding opportunities for growth while focusing on serving their members. The environmentalist in me loves it. The credit union agent is excited about a prospect of new lending products. The health nut sees healthier people from this endeavor. And of course, the geek in me wants to learn all about the tech specs on these custom-designed machines of human propulsion!

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