Premier Member Highlight: Bella Banka
With Earth Day around the corner, we decided to highlight one of our particularly environmentally conscious members. Bella Banka is a cross-country cyclist, a farmer, a botany researcher, and a student of life. She has an appreciation and passion for this planet that is truly inspiring. (Even her clothes are made from recycled materials)! Recently, we got the chance to chat with her about plants, fitness, and sustainable adventure.
After two ACL surgeries on the same knee, Bella needed some low-impact exercise and found Premier for the access to our pools, but has admitted to finding much more. Along with swimming, she has been appreciating group fitness classes, the knowledge and help from trainers and staff in her rehabilitation process, and a community of friends who she relies on for accountability. When asked why fitness is important to her, she said it is a tool that helps her connect with the world around her. She has to be fit in order to farm, cycle, travel, hike, camp, and all of the other things she likes to do – all things that allow her to find connection with her environment.
It’s this clear intentionality of connection that really makes Bella such an inspiring individual. When speaking of her job as a farmer, Bella notes the joy she gets from not only connecting with her energy source in such an intimate way, but also from connecting with the Tallahassee community. She has a passion to learn as much as possible about her environment so that she can contribute to it’s growth and health in the best way she can. Sometimes this means learning about our food and how it grows; other times it means chatting with loyal customers of the farmer’s market about their children’s latest academic achievement. In Bella’s eyes, it is all about connection.
Beyond the plant community, Bella is also a staple figure in the Tallahassee cycling community. She considers herself a cross-country cyclist, as she enjoys cycle touring. Cycle touring is when a single person or a group of individuals travels for long distances on a bicycle. Typically this means they carry everything they would need to survive with them on the bicycle: camping gear, food, water, etc. – It is essentially backpacking for cyclists.
Bella has been on three cycle tours so far and plans for many more in her future. Her first and admittedly hardest was in 2018 from Tallahassee, FL to San Francisco, CA. In 2019 she did the Via Francigina from London, UK to Rome, Italy. This European trip was her favorite. She says cycling culture is much more prevalent in Europe and so the roads and drivers are more amenable to cyclists. She claims to have felt much safer traveling through western European countries than she does traveling across the US. Her most recent tour was a relay with a group of other Floridians in February of 2020 along the Southern Tier, which is a route from Jacksonville, FL to San Diego, CA . You can read more about that trip here. For Bella, cycling was introduced out of necessity for transportation, however she soon fell in love with the lifestyle. She sees it as practical, fun, environmentally friendly and sustainable, and a means for exercise, all while enjoying nature. In other words, it checks all of the right boxes.
With such a strong love for the outdoors, it is no surprise that Bella has big plans for Earth Day this year. She and some friends are going on an educational nature walk around Tallahassee and learning about native plant and animal species along the way.
We have our own plans for Earth Day at Premier as well. We will be hosting a 2.2 mile walk/run in the area followed by a ceremonial tree planting in front of Premier. Join us at 9:30am and celebrate our sweet Earth with us!