Community Reconnection through Service

I’ve spent the last ten years moving around.  Since 2004, my average occupancy duration for an apartment or rent house has been about 12 months.  I’ve lived in seven different cities in five states. Throw in a six-month deployment to the Mideast in there and you start to get the picture. I recently relocated to my home town of Fayetteville, Arkansas with clear intentions to stop all the moving around. My wife, our two rescue Chihuahuas, and I bought a house and we set about settling in.

I grew up in Fayetteville, and I always enjoyed coming home to visit for vacation and holidays. I tried to keep up with my old friends around town, and it was typically easy since most the people I knew liked to go out a lot so I was always running into people I knew when I visited. But as years passed, I slowly I lost touch with most of my Fayetteville connections.  You might think it would be easy for someone born and raised in a mid-sized college town in Arkansas to leave, come back and pick up where he left off, but Fayetteville has evolved over the last ten years and I found it difficult to keep up. The social scene is developing with an urban revitalization and the University has nearly doubled its student body. Fayetteville had moved forward without me and I was playing catchup.

I was lucky enough to find a position with Energy Corps, which would allow me to serve as Bicycle Coordinator. Alternative transportation is a passion of mine and I couldn’t believe my good fortune to be able to serve locally doing something I love. But perhaps the best part about my service site is the opportunity it has given me to reorient myself in my home town through the network of people working for the city. I have only been serving for a month, but I feel that Energy Corps has been the link I needed to bring myself back into the fold here in this great town.

As Bicycle Coordinator, people are interested to hear what I’m working on and eager to chat with me about cycling issues they’ve noticed. I meet with business owners, city departments, non-profits and everyday people to encourage more biking. This position gives me an avenue to access people and resources I would never have just by living in the area working at typical job.

I’m one month into an eleven-month service term and while I can’t predict all that my term will have in store, I know I will be better connected to my community than ever before.

DaneDane Eifling graduated from Fayetteville High School in 2003, served in the U.S. Navy from 2004-2009 and graduated from San Francisco State in 2012 with a BA in Geography with emphasis in planning and transportation.  Dane champions the benefits of alternative transportation with a special emphasis on cycling.  As Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Fayetteville, Dane is developing and implementing education, outreach and planning solutions to enhance bicycle use and pedestrian experience in Fayetteville.

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