David Bere is a 20-year-old student from Kalamazoo, a junior at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, attending college under the Kalamazoo Promise, a scholarship program available to any student who graduates from the Kalamazoo public schools. He is exactly the person for whom the program is aimed. David’s family has been in Kalamazoo for four generations: his mom was a housekeeper at Bronson Hospital and later the State Mental institution; his father worked in the Bronson mechanical plant; his sister works on the production line at Pzifer. David is the first of his family to attend college.
David weighed as much as 360 pounds before deciding to get his weight in line, began walking everywhere, lost 180 pounds, and discovered cycling. He cycled 6,000 miles through the U.S. and Canada in the summer of 2014. Since returning to school, David works at the WMU Center for Sustainability, volunteers for a number of green groups on campus, won an award for his leadership, and was featured in the Kalamazoo Public School newsletter as an exemplar of what the Kalamazoo Promise offers.
The WMU Center for Sustainability is supported by an $8 per student fee that students voted to tack onto their fees. The Center includes a green jobs fund that provides employment for 40 students and operates Gibbs House, an off-campus cooperative residence where six to eight students focus on conscious living and developing sustainability projects in hydroponics, permaculture and other topics. David runs the ‘fix-it’ room where students do wood projects and bike repairs as well as the Bike Stable that collects, repairs, and distributes bikes.
How will we live tomorrow?
“There will be a heck of a lot more biking. Everything we do here is geared toward changing how we will live, and how we will travel. Tomorrow I will be traveling and pursuing my passions without impacting the planet. It’s not a one-sum game. What is good for us is also good for the planet.”