Biking at the Crossroads

author: Mark Belinsky
date: 2011-12-20 22:28:54+00:00
slug: biking-at-the-crossroads
title: Biking at the Crossroads
wordpress_id: 3642


At crossroads in my life, I bike across countries. Nine years ago, I biked across the United States. Today, I find myself at another transition: I am moving on from my role as President of Digital Democracy. In honor of that change, I’ll be crossing the Dominican Republic and Haiti on the island of Hispaniola.

Haiti faced a crossroads when it was devastated by the 2010 earthquake. Digital Democracy had a team on the ground at the time, which meant the event shook me to the core as well. The Dd team sprang into action, contributing to humanitarian aid efforts to map where people were in need to help save lives.

Yet once Haiti disappeared from the headlines, the real work to rebuild the country began. In response to increased levels of rape post-earthquake, we worked to empower women as key actors in Haiti’s reconstruction with a commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative. This year we worked in Haiti to launch the 572 call center, the country’s first rape-response hotline (a sort of 911 for violence against women), connected to a secure database and interactive mapping system. Next we’re working to scale these solutions nationally.

Now I’m at a crossroads too. Over the past three years Digital Democracy has grown from an idea to an accomplished nonprofit. With Dd a sustainable organization, I’m ready to move on and am looking to explore opportunities that allow me to pursue innovative projects with larger enterprises. I’ll still be involved in Digital Democracy, in a guiding role to support the work of my co-founder Emily and our amazing staff.

Since Digital Democracy launched, I’ve been able to draft policy in Iraq, securely document crimes against humanity in Burma/Myanmar, develop an international education initiative, work with government heads and active citizens in the Caucasus, host trainings with Secretary Clinton in the lands that my family fled from, and speak at US Congress and at the White House. It’s meant the world to me to work on these initiatives with such incredible people over the past few years. When I biked across the US I learned that people can achieve anything they put their minds to. I’m excited to see what this new trip will teach.

Tune in to Bike Hispaniola to join my friend Rob Munro & me on the journey. Follow the blog, featuring a live map that updates our location, twitter feed, photos and more. Please ask us questions, share tips and ideas, and let us know of people and sights to see. I’ll be sharing stories and stopping by our partners’ offices in Port-Au-Prince to see the call center staff and further explore how technology can continue to make a difference in Haiti and around the world.

You can sponsor my 500 mile ride by contributing to Digital Democracy’s end of year matching campaign in honor of the trip. All donations will go to Digital Democracy core programming in Haiti and beyond in 2012 – not the ride itself – and be doubled by generous matching donors.

Happy holidays to you and thank you for your support over these years. I look forward to hearing from you and keeping in touch wherever my travels take me and where yours take you.

Mark Belinsky