Founder of 88Bikes
Founded in 2006, 88bikes works on a simple principle: for every $88 donation one girl receives a bicycle. All bicycles are purchased locally and any labor for transportation, assembly, or assistance is hired locally. Austin and his volunteers return to run repair clinics and lead bike rides. But bikes are just beginning of Austin’s work: 88bikes’ Seamless Possibilities program curates dressmaking workshops with formerly-trafficked girls in Southeast Asia. Each girl sews a beautiful dress for herself under the mentorship of an LA-based costume designer. The rigorous, weeklong workshop is followed by a fun soirée (all of the girls get bikes too, of course!). 88bikes curates mural painting in India, collaborates with a surfboard NGO in the Philippines, and partners with celebrated NGO FAIR Girls by fusing bike rides with artisan jewelry trunk shows: all of the jewelry made by formerly-trafficked girls in FAIR Girls’ JewelGirls program. According to Austin: “Our goal is generating the most amount of overall joy in the universe. Bikes, dresses, surfboards, murals—whatever it takes to help these courageous girls transcend.” For Austin, Joy-Based Philanthropy has no limits.
Austin is also an accomplished filmmaker, best known for his feature documentary True Fans, which chronicled his bike journey across America with his brother and his best friend. A book of the same name was also published, a stage play premieres in November 2013, and a musical version is in development in New York.
The Incredible Journey of 88Bikes and Joy-Based Philanthropy
Dan Austin's Joy-Based Philanthropy is changing the way we think about giving. This new movement embraces something many NGOs overlook: that happiness is a need, on par with food and shelter. NGOs shouldn't offer simply sustenance. They should offer transcendence. 88bikes’ explosive success proves that by raising the bar, donors will also show more enthusiasm. According to Austin, “We all want to do more than just help our fellow human beings survive, we want to help each other thrive.” From Cambodia to Serbia to Washington DC, Austin takes us to the places where 88bikes works. We meet the heroic survivors of sexual slavery and witness how something as simple as a bike enhances their inspiring (and undimmed) ambition and hope. Austin offers hard-won tips on starting a foundation from scratch and making it as a social entrepreneur. "People don't want to give aimlessly," Austin says. "They want to support someone and know that their contribution is making her happy." Austin's organization—and this talk—offer irrefutable proof.
Work and Serendipity
Dan Austin’s paradigm-shifting nonprofit, 88bikes, was an act of sheer serendipity. His breakout documentary feature, True Fans, which toured internationally—and inspired a stage play, a musical, and a book—was originally just a side project. When he chose to cast the Haitian streetkids in his documentary film Petionville as heroes instead of victims, he was fired by the foundation that hired him, but finished the film on his own, honoring the kids’ lives and stories. Petionville led to several high-profile collaborations and was the inspiration for 88bikes’ first project. In this upbeat, energetic talk, Austin discusses the role of serendipity in building a career. He shows how work can be an adventure, and how every job, no matter how pedestrian, can be have meaning. He demonstrates how the greatest leaps are almost always unexpected. (And the not-so-greatest leaps too: like his very short-lived rap career!) Social Entrepreneur, Author, Award-winning Filmmaker, Artist, New York City Bike Messenger, Art Class Model and nearly sixty jobs more, Austin’s talk provides guidance and levity to new graduates as they enter the job market as well as those looking to blaze a fresh path. By alchemizing talents, abilities, and interests, anyone willing to re-envision what they thought they knew, ask themselves what they want most, take a risk, evolve, work hard—even get fired—can fuse work, ambition, and serendipity and develop a vibrant, self-curated career.
True Fans: A Basketball Odyssey
Based on the nationally touring film of the same name, Dan Austin's hilarious and thoughtful True Fans details the journey Dan, his brother Jared, and best friend Clint Ewell started when they hopped aboard their bicycles and headed east from the pickup court at Venice Beach, handlebars pointed toward the NBA Hall of Fame. It was a basketball pilgrimage, shooting hoops on sandlots across the country, looking for enlightenment under a net. In their bicycle trailer, which they called "The Ark of the Covenant," they carried a few gallons of peanut butter and an unused basketball, on which they collected the signatures of those who helped them on their journey, from the Reverend Kevin Smith, who let them sleep behind his church, to Dick Simmons, a coal miner who offered them five dollars he could scarcely afford to part with. They would bring this ball to the Hall of Fame, and ask that it be included in the permanent collection. What would America do, the book also asks, if three guys on bikes with a basketball in tow showed up and begged for a handout? Not everyone was friendly- the strange "owner" of Amboy, Nevada, makes for a fairly spooky villain- but most of the country, they found, would do just about anything for them. Doors were opened from California to Springfield, Massachusetts, hamburgers comped, hot tubs proffered. Austin and his crew knocked, and for one hundred days, America answered. The result was a classic odyssey.
The Road Trip Pilgrim's Guide
A quirky, quasi-spiritual look at road trips and what inspires us to travel.
Fun and funny stories, as well as goofy illustrations, will entertain all for whom the shout "Road Trip!" brings an automatic smile.
Vagabond, couch-surfing, road-wise filmmaker author writes with the experience of someone who lives with one-hand clutching a sleeping bag.
Contains useful advice to help launch aspiring pilgrims onto their journeys. This guidebook-cum-journal describes how to plan and complete a successful road trip. Anecdotal and inspirational, it offers learned-on-the-road advice for seeking adventure, having fun, and taking time for yourself-whether it's a weekend trip to a nearby bluegrass festival, a week's vacation to explore your roots in Ireland, or a months-long journey to explore the ruins of Southeast Asia. The most essential element for a pilgrim? A sense of purpose and mindfulness every time you hit the road.