Juliet Zulu

Today is October 25, 2014. The time in Portland is 7:54 PM
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There was something commanding about Ari Sonnenberg when I first met him. Listening to him talk was like sitting in my grandfather's living room, hearing stories. War stories. Appropriately veiled, an honesty arose that demanded respect and a version of thankfulness that is hard to define. Ari enlisted in the US Army when he was seventeen and was deployed to the most dangerous and taxing combat zones. Like many others, he left the service with a traumatic brain injury and PTSD to find a broken Veterans Affairs system. Throughout his military career, his transition back into civilian life and his battle with the VA which culminated in his testifying in front of Congress, Ari's constant was his bicycle. He was kind enough to spend some time with us and tell his story as the third installment of our Stay Brave profile stories.

What is it about cycling that is therapeutic? The feeling of not being broken and to be in control gives me a feeling of confidence. Also, the idea that you can't stop pedaling and it's just you and the bike relaxes and soothes me. Everyday, I ride my bike. Some days to get coffee. Some days on super long rides. As long as I can use my bike, I feel it was a good reason to be alive. I don't want to sound fake or like I'm trying to be introspective. But to me there is almost nothing so beautiful than to experience life on my bike. It has always been there. Through the good and bad. Even on deployments or back from training.

Tell us about your bike. My bike is amazing, I have a few but the one I am riding now is a perfect fit. I don't ride with breaks or gears. I ride fixed, also known as a track bike. It was designed by my close friend, who has been very supportive of my recovery. It's called Renovatio which means rebirth.

Ari's Bike is the third installment in a series of not-for-profit profile films (Caring For Giants and Wolf and The Bees) that highlight Portland community members who embody our motto, Stay Brave, in their actions, practices and ethics. Started by our incubator Task Force and now carried on by our staff, these films have been a way for JZ to stay connected to our community and take a needed breather from advertising.

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