Ride for Human Rights: Joey Goes to St. Petersburg

1400 Miles (2270 km) by Tricycle from NYC

Joey, dressed for Florida.

Joey, dressed for Florida.

Hello!  I’m Joey, the one-pound “kangaroo court” puppet.

Meet Jeffrey — lawyer, registered professional nurse, member of the Vera Institute of Justice Guardianship Project field staff.  Look carefully; I’m there too.

Left to right: Jeffrey, Joey

Left to right: Jeffrey, Joey.

Since 1991, I’ve been Jeffrey’s prop for asylum law lectures.  In 2011, he first took me from New York City (which Tom Wolfe called “this free port, this Hong Kong, this Polish corridor”) into so-called “real America” to listen to the people and to advocate respect for non-citizens’ human rights.

For more on our pedigrees, see the intros to our 2011 Ride to Iowa and 2012 Ride to Tennessee.

On both journeys, we learned a lot and shared our perspectives.  Kind souls donated over $64,000 to support the work of Human Rights First.

We’re at it again in 2013!


Elections matter.  The xenophobia expressed during the recent presidential campaign has waned.  Politicians and the public increasingly recognize the electoral and economic importance of including all good residents in our national community.

Remarkably, ethics now may matter too.  The discovery that we all have gay family and friends changed minds and laws.  In the same spirit, the coming-out of worthy young unauthorized immigrants has nudged America toward doing the right thing for DREAMers and their families.


We plan to pedal from New York City — magnet for millions worldwide — along the Atlantic coasts of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.  We’ll conclude our ride in the Gulf city of St. Petersburg, Florida, which is atypical of Florida because one in ten of its residents is foreign born.  St. Pete is on the low side; statewide, Florida’s foreign-born are one in five.

How evident are the foreign-born in this seaboard slice of “real America”?  What part do they play in local life?  What are the attitudes of the descendants of earlier immigrants?  From our perch near the ground, where we see and hear as one can’t in a car, we hope to find out.


In 2011 and 2012, we rode a recumbent bicycle into the Heartland.  This year, we’ll ride a recumbent tricycle, an ICE Sprint 26, once again with our Zzip Designs fairing.


ICE Sprint 26, by the Little Red Lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge.

Why a trike?  Because it’s fast, comfortable, safe and fun.

As ever, Jeffrey’s brilliant, accomplished Duke classmate and delightful spouse, Nancy Freund Heller, will pay our expenses.

Who benefits?


Human Rights First walks the talk:

Human Rights First is an independent advocacy organization that challenges our country to live up to its ideals. HRF presses American institutions—including government and business—to respect human rights, seeking to close the gap between values and action. Around the world, it fosters American influence to secure core freedoms through the rule of law.

HRF also trains volunteer lawyers to help refugees win asylum in the United States.  At the same time, HRF works abroad to end the conditions that create refugees in the first place.

HRF’s admirers include former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, General (ret.) David Petraeus, and congressional Republicans and Democrats — who agree with HRF, and with you and me, that “homeland security” does not trump our Constitution.

Join the adventure!  Follow our blog — in the coming weeks, we will post some perspectives, and beginning March 27, a daily travelogue — speak out for human rights and individual responsibility, and donate to support Human Rights First.

5 thoughts on “Ride for Human Rights: Joey Goes to St. Petersburg

  1. Joey, Best of luck on your ride to St. Petersburg. Keep an eye on Jeffrey. We know he has a penchant for mischief, so we need you to be the adult in the room (or on the trike). Let the human rights message flow from New York to Florida. Art


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