Appalachian student to bike across the country to promote sustainability

Michelle Pierce

Senior sustainable development major Michael John O’Neal will ride his bike from Bar Harbor, Maine to Seattle, Wash. for the non-profit Spokes of Green. Spokes of Green educates on the importance of going green by promoting and demonstrating sustainable activities. Nicole Debartolo | The Appalachian
From Maine to Washington, Appalachian senior Michael John O’Neal plans to promote green living in the United States alongside Kory Piorkowski, the pioneer of Spokes of Green Project.

Spokes of Green is a non-profit organization promoting the idea of sustainable living through teaching the uses of compost and building eco-friendly structures, O’Neal said.

“I want to help raise awareness for sustainable practices and spread the world of healthy living by riding your bike,” said O’Neal, a sustainable development major.

O’Neal’s father met Piorkowski at a non-profit conference in Ohio and introduced him to his son, an avid cyclist. The two have been planning their summer-long bike ride ever since.

Their goal is to bike 60 miles a day across U.S. backcountry roads while encouraging other bikers along the way to ride with them.

During the trip, they will be a part of the various workshops they have linked with, including the Greenhouse Project, which teaches the public how to build greenhouses, construct raised garden beds and use compost as a more sustainable fertilizer.

They have already received sponsorship from Fuji, a major biking company, since both will be riding Fuji bikes along. The company said they support the campaign for cleaner human-powered transportation.

O’Neal will be selling Spokes of Green silicone bracelets on Sanford Mall later in the school year.

“Keep an eye out for fundraising and awareness for Spokes of Green on Sanford,” O’Neal said.

The duo is currently holding a competition on Facebook for the design of the T-shirts they will be giving out at Spokes of Green events in the coming summer.

O’Neal and Piorkowski are also trying to receive support form the community. O’Neal said wants to encourage students to check out the website and see what the project is all about at

They hope to receive a positive response from Appalachian, since the university is a leader in green principles for other schools, O’Neal said.

Story: MICHELLE PIERCE, Intern News Reporter

Photo: NICOLE DEBARTOLO, Intern Photographer