Building Lives with Books, Bikes and More

by Shelley Seale on June 17, 2016 in Living Texas, Austin,

Around Father’s Day, our thoughts turn to the people that have had a major influence on our lives since childhood. For the children of several rural communities in Kenya, west Africa, their lives have been forever changed by the vision and tenacity of Austinites Turk and Christy Pipkin.

The Pipkins founded The Nobelity Project after producing several film documentaries about global problems and solutions. It recently celebrated 10 years as a nonprofit that supports projects including not only schools and clean water initiatives in Kenya, but also bookmobile drives in Honduras, eyesight restoration clinics in Nepal and tree replanting in Bastrop, among others.

The Nobelity Project heads into the summer with the momentum of two very successful events behind them.

4×4 Concert at the Gibson Guitar Showroom, May 11

The music was in full effect and the fans loved it. Photo by Jim Innes
The music was in full effect and the fans loved it. Photo by Jim Innes

As part of an ongoing concert series bringing great live music, food and drink, and an array of incredible silent auction items, May’s 4×4 event featured a set of four local musical artists. The music was off the charts with Jeff Plankenhorn leading the charge with the first set. Then the Trishas blew the Americana roots off the joint. Suzanna Choffel brought it to a pin-drop with her sublime voice and guitar work, and then Big Cat wrapped it up with the funkadelic blues they are known for.

Guests bid on auction items such as two tickets to see Florence and the Machine at an Austin City Limits taping; two hospitality suite tickets to see Ryan Bingham and Shakey Graves perform; two tickets to see Randy Newman at the Paramount Theater; objects from Kenya; and much more.

The evening funded a new classroom at Mweiga Primary School in Kenya–where the current school is falling down around their ears. A generous donor matched every dollar raised at the 4×4 concert, allowing The Nobelity Project to put up two classrooms instead of just one. Mark your calendars for the next 4×4 concert October 15.

Ride Across Texas  

Riding across Texas is no small task, but for a good cause it can be done. Photo courtesy of The Nobility Project
Riding across Texas is no small task, but for a good cause it can be done. Photo courtesy of The Nobility Project

From April 10 to 27, NPR’s John Burnett and KUT’s Hawk Mendenhall rode bicycles 1,150 miles across Texas to fund bikes and books for Kenya high school scholars. Supporters pledged a monetary amount per mile ridden to raise money.

“After 17 days, Texas is ridden across,” said Hawk Mendenhall at the end of the journey. “John Burnett and I crossed into Louisiana and tacked on 25 more miles for good measure. … A big thanks to everyone who helped raise over $20,000 for bikes and books for Kenyan students with the Nobelity Project. It makes this adventure so very much more meaningful than just riding across a damn big state.”

Gladys Wanjiki, one of the top scoring students in Kenya who received a bicycle from the initiative, said, “The bike has enabled me to arrive at school early to study, despite living 6km away.”

Learn more about The Nobelity Project at www.nobelity.org.