by Kristin Arzt
Marc Macdonald has always been a fixer of the vehicles that keep us moving, from boats to cars to bikes. After retiring from the Coast Guard, Marc came to The Crucible to volunteer in our Bike Shop in 2014. It is in our Bike Shop that Marc has found a place to keep himself sharp, organizing the puzzles of bike parts and managing the constant incoming flow of donated bikes.
Marc is known in our Bike Shop for being steadfastly dedicated to fixing up the most challenging bike donations. While other techs undoubtedly can become frustrated with the amount of dust-caked Burner bikes we get in (and we don’t blame them), Marc is always willing to strip those bikes clean, and even take them home to power wash them. We sat down with Marc to learn about his fixer philosophy and his favorite mode of transportation – bikes.
Tell us about your background.
I’m from Connecticut originally, and was in the Coast Guard for thirty years. I went all over the country, and lived in Japan, Guam, and Hawaii. I ended up in California and decided to stay here. Coming to The Crucible from the Coast Guard was a huge shift. It was almost like going back to my childhood roots, since I was welding at age fourteen before I went into the service. I didn’t pick up a torch for forty years. It has been incredible to feel that power and creativity again being back in the studio.
How does working at The Crucible differ from the work you did growing up?
More than an artist I’m a fixer, and I’ve always been a fixer. I’ve been working on and restoring classic cars all my life, and bike mechanics are actually an extension of that. In the Bike Shop, one of the real challenges is that every bike part is like a puzzle piece and every manufacturer’s puzzle piece is different. I look at the bikes as a puzzle and I enjoy the challenge. There is no end of work in that Bike Shop. We are always accepting donations that need to be sorted, fixed, tossed, or modified.
What is your favorite part about working in the Bike Shop?
It’s not so much just working with the bikes, but the reason I keep coming back to The Crucible is the people. There are so many incredible people here. A lot of them are struggling with their art, struggling to get along in life, but they’re all just amazing, and you want to be part of it. You want to help. You want to get to know them. I consider a lot of people here to be really good friends and so that part is is a strong reason why I have continued to be involved.
With Carmen being the Department Head of both Bike Shop and Welding, the connection between the two departments resonates between the two of us. We just get along almost like father and son. He has been very encouraging for me to get back into welding after all these years.
Tell us about working with youth at The Crucible.
I’ve been a TA in MIG Welding, TIG Welding, Blacksmithing, Kinetics, and ARC Welding, and I couldn’t even count how many Fix-A-Thons or Earn-a-Bike courses I’ve done. It has been really rewarding working with the kids. It can be harder for some of the kids because these classes are more technical. Sometimes you may not be able to see it in their completed “artwork,” but they always get so much out of it, especially when they overcome a challenge.
What is one word you would use to describe The Crucible?
Simply put, awesome. And beyond fire! Some people think of The Crucible as just being a fire arts center – but it’s really more than that. We have the Bike Shop, Kinetics, Woodworking, Machine Shop, Youth Classes, and more.
Marc’s personal project is building art wheels, which he makes by adjusting the spokes to create optical illusions.
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