Taylor Livingston has embarked on the trip of a lifetime.
He left the comforts of home, friends and family to endure a 1,850-mile adventure along the West Coast.
Livingston will not be traveling by plane or car; however, he is riding his bicycle and it will take him nearly two months to complete the journey.
The recent WWU Huxley College of the Environment graduate said he looks at his bike ride from Blaine to Baja California, Mexico as a rite of passage into the world.
He also said he wasn’t quite ready to grow up yet.
The trip will benefit and enrich not only the life of Livingston; he said he hopes to empower all who he encounters along the way.
Through the WWU Foundation and Huxley College, Livingston plans to raise $10,000 for OxFam Great Britain, an organization benefiting and researching environmental vulnerability and landslides in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Livingston first heard of the dilapidating conditions in Guatemala during a Huxley College course last winter with research associate Rebekah Green.
He said the disasters and tragedies experienced in the poverty-stricken areas were too heartbreaking for him to ignore. He said he felt he had to do something.
“These communities are built over night in dangerous landslide zones with no regard to building regulations,” Livingston said. “We need to educate the public on ways to avoid this.”
Livingston, who earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Planning and Environmental Policy/Hazard Mitigation, chose a slightly different post-graduation path when he decided to bike from the Canadian border to the Mexican border about a year ago.
While his friends were preparing for graduate school, internships and starting his or her career, Livingston was gearing up and training for his long and strenuous trek.
“This is such a symbolic thing for me – riding border to border,” Livingston said. “I’m just so lucky I have the opportunity to help people while I am doing it.”
With a great cause and his mode of transportation secured, Livingston said he felt the wheels were finally in motion for his trip.
The money Livingston raises will also help to continue the collaboration among Huxley College students and OxFam Great Britain. The goal is to study ways to reduce the threat of landslides in the heavily populated, hilly areas of Guatemala City, where clogged drainage and sewage ditches overflow and rip apart homes in the process, Livingston said.
Livingston will also be leading by example while he cycles south toward the border, and said he plans to pick up as much roadside trash as possible along the way. Using bags and a trailer, Livingston said he wants to practice and promote personal sustainable practices such as reducing plastic consumption as he rides.
Though he may get the naysayer here and there, and those who think he is just plain crazy for wanting to sit on a bike for hours on end, Livingston said he could not imagine a better graduation present.
He said people kept asking him what he wanted to do after graduation and he finally realized all he really wanted to do was ride his bike.
Those interested in seeing how Livingston’s pedals and gears fare along the dusty route, and learning his plans for when he reaches the border, can check out his blog at http://telivingston.blogspot.com/