Meet Daniel Gerdts

PHC: Tell us a little about your professional life.

DLG: I am a lawyer by trade – a solo private criminal defense practitioner, mostly representing indigent defendants as their appointed counsel in federal court. Directly after law school I spent some time investigating and documenting human rights abuses in the Mexican criminal justice system. I then clerked for a judge on the federal court of appeals, and have been in private criminal defense work ever since. In my late teens, however, I was a professional bicycle mechanic.

PHC: How did you hear about PHC? 

DLG: I have known of PHC for a long time, through Jim McKinney, while I was dating his daughter Cate. Jim is now my father in law, and obviously a good influence. I was surprised to learn that my own daughter Angela also volunteered at PHC some years ago when it was at the former building. As Jim and I were chatting about it at a backyard barbecue this summer, she heard us and said, “Are you talking about Peace House?! I used to volunteer there!”

PHC: What convinced you to volunteer at PHC?

DLG: My wife Cate, who is a financial supporter of PHC, receives the newsletter. A couple of years ago she showed me the posting in the newsletter seeking bike mechanics to volunteer their services. She thought I might be interested. I signed up without telling her, and she was happily surprised when she found out one day as I was packing tools into my car.

“The stuff that happens at PHC may seem simple and basic, but the community and what goes with it are really important and indispensable.”

PHC: How often do you volunteer?

DLG: I try to get in once a week for a couple of hours, as time permits, but I have to work it into my court calendar, so I have no regular day. The arrangement seems to work well because it is so flexible.

PHC: What do you do while you are at PHC?

DLG: I fix bikes! Sometimes it’s just routine maintenance; sometimes it’s replacing bearings and axles. Some bikes clearly have emerged recently from dumpsters, some are top-notch two-wheelers, and some have that certain je ne sais quoi that bespeaks a questionable provenance. I fix ‘em all!

PHC: What do you find rewarding about coming to PHC?

DLG: Empowering people with reliable, healthy, green transportation! I am a huge supporter of travel by bicycle, and a big bike fan. It has been a primary mode of transportation for me all my life. I was 15 when I left on my first solo bike tour. I have raced both road and mountain bikes. I commute as much as possible by bike. And I have been building and repairing bikes and bike wheels since adolescence. Helping others to get around on a bicycle is extremely rewarding. It will save the planet, and everyone’s health, and requires relatively little infrastructure. You don’t really want to get me started on this  . . . .

PHC: Is there anything else about PHC that you think our supporters should know?

DLG: It is always a pleasure to show up at Peace House! It does not get old. The stuff that happens at PHC may seem simple and basic, but the community and what goes with it are really important and indispensable.