Blackstone Bicycle Works | Chicago Reader

Blackstone Bicycle Works 

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Sebastián Hidalgo
Issac W. Hall takes a quick nap during free time.
Sebastián Hidalgo
Blocks away from the University of Chicago campus and next to Carnegie Elementary School, Blackstone Bicycle Works is surrounded by graffiti and the enthusiastic cheers of children.
Sebastián Hidalgo
Christopher Epting (left) sweeps and Tia Brogsdale (right) practices taking apart a bicycle. At the end of every day, program participants clean and organize the shop.
Sebastián Hidalgo
Adopted from traditional martial arts ranking system, Blackstone uses colored-coded aprons that represent skill level. There are five colors in Blackstone's programs: grey, green, red, purple and black. Only two have ever reached a black apron and the tile of "Master Mechanic". Work gets harder as students progress through the colors. "Grey to Red [color aprons] are the easiest to advance in." said Charlie Rifenburg, Head Mechanic and Customer Service Coordinator at Blackstone, "Once they get to a purple and black, then I have to restructure more difficult tests for them."
Sebastián Hidalgo
A volunteer holds an extension of a air pump to detect an air leak that one of the students noticed, while a new grey apron participant continues to pump the tire with air. This collaboration is often seen at Blackstone and encouraged by example to others who are in the shop's program.
Sebastián Hidalgo
Volunteer Nana checks out the kitchen area.
Sebastián Hidalgo
A Blackstone volunteer shows a garter snake he caught on his way to the shop.
Sebastián Hidalgo
A student peeks into a storage trailer where recycled bike parts are stored.
Sebastián Hidalgo
A Blackstone staffer inspects a customer’s bike in the courtyard.
Sebastián Hidalgo
Lawrence Slack prepares to join the Friday bike ride.
Sebastián Hidalgo
The weekly ride through Woodlawn
Sebastián Hidalgo
The weekly ride through Woodlawn
Sebastián Hidalgo
The weekly ride through Woodlawn
Sebastián Hidalgo
Lawrence Slack leads a game of Wax Museum, Blackstone’s version of Red Light, Green Light, during free time at the shop, earned by working and doing homework.
Sebastián Hidalgo
A volunteer reaches for a donated bike. The shop receives hundreds of bikes to strip and recycle, from a variety of locations including University of Chicago.
Sebastián Hidalgo
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Sebastián Hidalgo
Issac W. Hall takes a quick nap during free time.