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Biking & Building

July 8, 2015

Three Drexel students are pedaling across the country this summer with Bike & Build, a nonprofit that engages bike enthusiasts in cross-country journeys that center on volunteer work. Westphal Architecture students Nina Lish and Katie Connors, along with Drexel Architectural Engineering alum Nathan Barry, will participate in cycling routes throughout the U.S. as they stop along the way to volunteer with building projects geared toward the affordable housing crisis. While Nina Lish has committed to ride from Maine to Santa Barbara, CA—a total of 3,897 miles—over the course of 75 days, Katie Connors will bike 896 miles across the state of Washington in just two weeks, and Nathan Barry is partway through his 75-day, 3,868 mile trip from Virginia to Oregon. Read on to find out what inspired them to spend their summers biking and building.

A second-year student in Westphal’s Architecture 2+4 program, Nina Lish minors in Sustainability in the Built Environment. She’s previously volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and this is her second trip with Bike & Build. While she’s passionate about biking and raising money for affordable housing, she is also looking forward to gaining experience in residency construction projects. During the course of the trip, her group will dedicate 14 days to volunteer work with affordable housing organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together. “My inspiration for this trip? Definitely living in the moment, going on adventures while venturing somewhere new and being active. My parents went on cycling trips when they were younger and I agree that it is the best way to travel, meet new people and experience the world around me,” she writes in her bio for Bike & Build.

Katie Connors graduated from the 2+4 Architecture program this spring, which had her working full-time for more than three years at the firm Jacobs/KlingStubbins in Philadelphia while taking night studio classes. She is not only an avid cyclist, but is looking forward to the hands-on building experience. She writes: “I've gotten great experience designing and documenting all types of architecture, but it's time for me to build something! I'm very passionate about architecture and its daily impact on individuals so having the opportunity to raise money and build for Affordable Housing would be a great honor.”

Deeply aware of the severe need to raise money and awareness about the affordability of housing for people of all means, recent Architectural Engineering alum Nathan Barry sees this opportunity as a way to merge his love of bikes with a pressing social issue. As part of their commitment, Nathan, Katie and Nina have each agreed to raise between $2,500 and $4,500, 80% of which will go toward affordable housing organizations that apply to grants from Bike & Build. And, while on their trips, they’ll have the chance to engage in the grant process and determine how the money is distributed. We wish safe journeys to all three of them and will be following their progress at the Bike & Build website!