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If You Build It They Will Come

Iowa Hosts 2022 Meeting of the Minds

by Amy Irene White, The Wicked Bitch

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The Motorcycle Riders Foundation is chiefly concerned with issues at the national and international levels that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists.

The 2022 MRF Meeting of the Minds was held in downtown Des Moines this year… and as the hotel block quickly filled and spilled over into other hotels, we all knew that this was one that would go down in history.

The state of Iowa has always proven to be an integral part of bikerdom… from legends the likes of Dave Mann and Frank Fritz and Clay Johnson and Clean Dean Shawler, to the massive Freedom Park built and maintained by Iowa ABATE that lets freedom roar every Fourth of July in Algona.. its indisputable that the cornfields of dreams produce enough amazing bikers to fill a covered bridge.

This year as they hosted over 400 bikers from all over the country, Iowa once again held her own, with a whopping 278 new members in the total of 820 in new memberships nationwide, and our very own Christy Gunderson bringing home not only Recruiter of the Year but also the Deborah Butitta MRF State Rep of the Year.  Congrats to the fantastic team in Iowa who made this all happen, and a special shoutout to one of the hardest working women in the MRF. You deserved it, Christy.

While Iowa dominates across the board in biker rights, she also boasts of another type of legend, the true heroes, in our two wheeled world… the Veterans. Of all the great classes and useful info and exchanging of hugs and laughter and ideas… one somber and surreal moment will shine forever in all of our memories.

To tell you what I am about to tell you, i would like to remind you that I am 90 percent deaf. In a large room, I cannot hear a word. Even if I could have heard it, i would not and could not tell you the story that will be etched on the soul of every person in that room. It can only be told by one man.

Slider took the podium, and my schedule said he was introducing a speech by his brother, “The Price of Freedom” by Charlie ‘Chopper’ Gilmore. I saw him struggle with emotion as he introduced Charlie.. the brotherly love was written on his face. I felt everyone in the room go still and silent at what Slider said was to come. I was in awe… in a trance… everyone was… as Chopper took the microphone and told his story, his truth, about Vietnam.

Charlie was a member of the 101 Screaming Eagles… a 1st Lieutenant and Infantry Platoon leader. He is also the Chaplain for the Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club. His words carried a lot of weight on a lot of levels in that room that day. Patriotism was tangent in that meeting hall… everyone’s chest puffed… tears welled in their eyes… it felt like America yawned and stretched and came out of hiding, for that brief moment in time.

I knew, without hearing a word, that I was in the presence of honor.. the presence of loyalty… the presence of the America I was born into… the America that I sometimes wonder if I will ever see again.

There were two very interesting new things announced that I would like to mention. Both of these things are going to be free of dues or membership.. which is always good news… and both are the brainchildren of people who always have interesting things on the horizon.

First off, speaking of legends… Jim Barr of ABATE Long Island is going to be teaming up with Double D at the Motorcycle Profiling Project for an all new National Council of Independent Riders. This amazing new project is JUST now getting off the ground so Jim has promised us an indepth interview in the coming weeks with all the deets.. stay tuned…..

The second cool thing I learned is, Clutch is creating a new TED talk style YouTube channel, called Clutch Explains It. I felt a little bit ridiculous trying to explain Clutch Explains It..  and so, I wrote Clutch, and here is how he explains it:

"Much of what we do to help our community involves two things. Getting out the information and then putting in the work. For bikers, effort, hard work, loyalty to each other and a cause comes with the lifestyle and who we are. The unfortunate part is that getting out the information is becoming more challenging as options for getting that information become more abundant and more reliant on technology.

In days past, a phone call, an email, or even a newsletter was enough to inform the public. As those methods grey like the hair in our beards, new technologies emerge that, if used correctly,  far exceed the reach we once depended on. So, my goal is to take advantage of those social media platforms to better inform  and educate our community.

I am a researcher by nature but also by trade and am constantly collecting information that will make us smarter, healthier, and wealthier and if shared would help preserve a community and lifestyle constantly under attack. Each episode will not exceed 15 minutes and will be “single issue” episodes. They will be easily searchable and shareable. Imagine educational TED talks for the motorcycling community. This will not be about mechanics, Club protocol or another biker news channel.

There are guys that are in that lane and do it well. The channel will cover philosophy, medicine, legislation, science, and law and all will be tied into how it directly affects you the biker.  A channel for the thinking person. For those that have watched as others create YouTube channels to enrich themselves and roll their eyes at the possibility of another biker looking to cash in, I can assure you of two things.

I will never ask for a subscription to be a part of this opportunity, and if I mention a product or service, there will be full disclosure of any financial benefit to me.  I am already doing the research or have lived the experience. It does no good for the community if that education and experience dies with me.

As we say here in Texas, 'together we win'."

 - Clutch.

I guess I saved the good, the bad, and the ugly for last. Which category this falls into, to you, dear readers… I leave entirely at your discretion. I am just the messenger.

On Friday night, there was a casino night held to raise money for the MRF. They raised $1500. Part of that was done with a few of the biker men dressing up in drag....

Now I know we have always had a flare for the theatrical, be it pink tutus or blow up dolls… but this event took it one step further. It seems there were actual drag queens hired for the entertainment.

A lot of people were shocked, some didn’t mind, some didn’t like it....

It definitely made for some interesting anecdotes around the bar the next morning.

My friend & I attended with said its the dawning of a new day for the MRF.

I just hope Kurt Sutter doesn't hear about it and decide to call himself a prophet.

In conclusion, the MOTM this year was overall a huge success… when you factor in the struggle of the current economy, the cost of travel, and lingering Covid repercussions, it was a very impressive feat to put on and pull off such a massive conference. When it comes to bikers… Iowa ABATE proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that if you build it, they will come.

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Reader Comments

This is a great read and thanks for all the support to the MRF.

Gary Goracke
Villard, MN
Thursday, October 20, 2022
Editor Response Always supporting the MRF. We need all the help we can get...
Great article!

John Maschari
Denver, Colorado
Monday, October 10, 2022
Meeting of the Minds is the premiere gathering of motorcycle activists in the United States. I have been attending for nearly 20 years and have met some fine people from around the country who are currently involved in their SMRO and on a national level to see that motorcyclist and bikers are educated on current laws and soon to be laws.

Rodney Farley
north little rock, ar
Monday, October 10, 2022
Editor Response Thanks for keeping up the fight.

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