The EcoGrrl Interview: Tori



Tori is the badass who founded Gracie’s Wrench, providing a fantastic resource for people who want to learn more about their bikes, from the uber-beginner to the experienced rider.  I first met her when I brought her to my last company to teach a hands-on maintenance clinic to my fellow bike commuting employees, and everyone left with something new they’d learned – even the smartypants ones.

What or who inspires you most? I’m most inspired by other people who are following their passions. People who push forward into their truths, pick themselves up when they fall, embrace their mistakes and live bravely and genuinely.

What do you turn to when you need strength? My family, whether that is chosen or blood are the people who prove to me again and again that vulnerability is strength and love is usually around us if we open ourselves to it.

How can women best support and/or empower other women? By staying positive and creating the change they want to see in the world. Success and failures are both positive. Their beauty is both in the action, in the creating. Instead of talking, writing, grumbling or dreaming—do.

Mentor other women. Be an ally, a resource, and an inspiration to those who are actively trying.

Conspire and collaborate. If you need to work solo, fine. But share your successes and failures.

What do you love to grow? What would you like to try growing someday? Kale and my empathy. Kale is delicious. My empathy is always needing nurturing.

What are your creative outlets?  Is there anything you’ve always wanted to try but you haven’t? My creative outlets are writing, immersing myself in music and cooking (because I love to eat delicious food). I have two left feet, but love to dance. I’d love to take a dancing class. Oh. And scuba diving and surfing.

In what environment(s) do you feel most in your element? Water, water, water. I have a running mind and water is the one thing that can instantly calm it. Baths, streams, the ocean, rain, a hot cup of tea. I feel like I’m suffocating when I’m in a desert.

Who are your top three nonprofits you support and/or volunteer with and why?

  1. BAD RAP – a non-profit that helps educate people about pit bull-type dogs—as well as rescue them and fight breed ban legislation. I’m obsessed with dogs.

  2. The SMART Reading Program – an Oregon-based education service that pairs you with two kids for seven months to help them learn to read. Once a month you get to go into their school and spend a half-hour each with your students reading one-on-one for seven months. The program allows the kids to pick out two books each a week so they create their own home library.

  3. Northwest Trail Alliance – they help build and maintain trails in the Portland area to make sustainable opportunities to ride bikes in the dirt. Most people don’t know how hard it is to build a trail—even for hiking—that won’t erode or cause other damage to the delicate ecosystems that surround the trails. NWTA has gotten new trails built all over the Portland area, created dirt tracks for kids in areas where it’s difficult for them to get out into nature, host Take-a-Kid-Mountain-Biking Day as well as riding lessons for both adults and kids.

What recent “green” change have you made in your own life?  What’s next? Using less water for dishes. Next….?

Where in the world do you consider a sanctuary?  Why? Anywhere with water, or on my bike impossibly far away from anyone who can save me.

What advice would you give to your younger self? I wouldn’t. I don’t think I would listen, and if I did I’d never learn anything.

How can we as a society be more radical in supporting a healthy planet? Love fiercely and pay attention. Don’t depend on a higher being to take care of anything that she/he/it may have given you the power to change yourself.

What sparked your interest in environmental issues?   What’s the first “eco” thing you ever did? Riding bikes, which led to the Super Hero’s Haul of Justice, an annual ride across one U.S. state a year. You don your cape and super hero identity, then stop along your ride and help anyone who needs it—from water restoration, to sharing a day with lonely people in a rest home, to helping a farmer change a flat on his tractor.

How do you live simply? I don’t. We’re in a complicated world and it’s a struggle everyday. I feel like I’m succeeding if I just remember to keep breathing and be kind to myself and others.

Could you leave us with a favorite quote of yours? “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” ~ Mae West

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