In every major city, it can become all too easy to get lost in the shuffle, unless of course you go the extra mile to get to know your neighbors. For our new week-long series, “Know Your Neighbors,” we’d like to introduce several people in each major borough of Boston that are working to help create strong communities.

Some of these strangers are up to radical work in the non-profit, arts, and music world as well as just being wonderful human beings. By looking around, asking questions, and working to get to know the people we pass by each day, Boston will hopefully begin to feel stronger and more connected.

We start this series off with Centre Street in Jamaica Plain. Our next subject: Derek McIntire, the man behind Bikes Not Bombs of Jamaica Plain

Q: Derek, what brought you to Bikes not Bombs?

A: I’ve been a mechanic for about 7 or 8 years and I actually worked here back in 2007. I moved back to Boston after finishing school in Vermont and wanted a job as a bike mechanic.

Q:  What drew you to Bikes Not Bombs?

A: I’d done some international work at a bike shop in [Ghana] and was friends with the international program coordinator. Through talking to him I’ve been able to be involved with the program in [other Sub-Saharan African countries]. I was very interested in being able to work with both the international and local organization.

Q: Do you have many regulars here?

A: We have a lot of regulars that come in to say hello and hang out. We also get a people that are buying their first bike and hear that we have refurbished and used bikes and stop in to check them out. Our prices are very affordable and the bike quality is generally very good.

Q: Bikes Not Bombs does a lot of non-profit work within the community. Could you tell me about a recent container loading?

A: As an organization, we throw many events. We do container loadings about 5 times a year. The last one was going to Guatemala. We collect bicycles that people donate and some are used here while others are used in our youth programs. However, roughly 4,000 and 5,000 bikes a year are sent out to our international partners to use them. Recipients that are partnered with us will then use these bike parts to create machines, such as corn threshers, washing machines, water pumps etc.

Bici-Tech, our partner in Guatemala creates pedal powered machines called Bicimachinas, but every partner is different. for example, our partner in Nevis use bicycles for an earn-a-bike program, where youth learn bicycle mechanics and get to earn a bicycle through working and taking the earn a bike course. In Ghana, Ability Bikes is a worker-owned cooperative run by physically challenged people. They refurbish used bicycles that we send them and sell them in the local market or wholesale them to other bicycle shops in their city

Some Sundays we will have volunteers come meet at the warehouse in Dorchester where we sort and pick out bike parts for our partners abroad. We pack about 400 to 500 bikes into a container and ship them to the Caribbean, Kenya, and Latin America.

Q: Tell me more about these container shippings. It sounds like a large job for just a few people.

A: It’s usually between 20 or 30 people that come out to volunteer. There are always a few people that are particularly talented at jamming a large number of bikes into the container. We also have a volunteer night where we break down bikes to get them prepped to be shipped.

Q: What do you think drives people to volunteer and get involved in these container loadings?

A: We give people breakfast at each container loading but mostly people just want to support the work that’s being done. They enjoy hanging out and being involved. There are parties and other fun things but mostly people are just interested in helping out. We are hosting a bike-a-thon in June to fundraise for Bikes Not Bombs. We have around 400 to 500 people ride in it every year. There are four different rides. They start in JP at Stonybrook station. There’s a 10 mile, 30 mile, 50 mile, and 80 mile ride. Everyone raises at least 150 dollars, at the minimum, and afterward there’s food and prizes. Our next bike-a-thon is coming up on June 8th.

See more from BDCwire’s  “Know Your Neighbors” Centre Street series:

Pt. I – Lindsay Metivier of Aviary Gallery