Community Cycling Center Wins National Advocacy Award
By Melinda Musser, Communications & Marketing Manager
Thank you to the Alliance for Biking & Walking and the League of American Bicyclists for celebrating our work to broaden access to bicycling and its benefits with the “Catalyst Award” at this year’s National Bike Summit in Washington DC. This award honors organizations that “elevate the walking and biking movement to be more equitable and inclusive through authentic and meaningful engagement with people or communities.”
We are excited for our community partners to receive national recognition for working tirelessly to engage with their neighbors, fix bikes, lead rides, and advocate for safer streets and healthier communities. They continue to build a movement that is growing stronger every day.
We have come a long way over the course of 20 years of broadening access to bicycling and its benefits. What we’ve learned is that it’s about more than just bikes. It’s about listening and engaging with people in our community whose voices are typically underrepresented at the tables where policies and decisions are made about our city of Portland. Advocacy is about being a bridge and supporting people as they amplify their own voices.
Lale Santelices, our Programs Manager who leads our work in Cully and Portsmouth, describes advocacy as community empowerment. “I think true advocacy and true capacity building needs to speak to a person’s own truth. It cannot be about an organization’s secret desires. If your agenda is getting more people on bikes, it cannot be your ultimate agenda.” Lale adds, “If that is your ultimate agenda, then it’s not going to happen. You’re not going to see lasting change. It’s not about the bike, it’s about community building.”
What is next for our community partnerships?
In Cully, Andando en Bicicletas’ (ABC) goals for 2016 are to continue building on the momentum they gained in 2015, by advocating for more bike storage solutions at additional housing sites within Hacienda CDC. They will lead several bike rides this summer with kids in the Expresiones after-school program. New ABC members will earn bikes and participate in bike safety and mechanical trainings. These trainings will allow more ABC members to lead quick-fix events, where they will repair bicycles in preparation for big rides, like the one in June to Explorando, a bilingual nature fair put on by the Columbia Slough Watershed Council. ABC will host a bike fair during NE Sunday Parkways and work with Smart Trips to lead a bike ride for new Portlanders that showcases Living Cully Plaza and other Cully attractions.
In Portsmouth, we have hired Laquida Landford (who some may remember from our video we launched late last year) as a contractor in New Columbia. Laquida is committed to reaching out to community members, sharing resources, and listening to their needs. She has a vision of leading a ride about gentrification and displacement, with the goal of healing and understanding. This summer, she will lead bike rides with kids from the Boys & Girls Club. Through these rides, Laquida says she would like to “get youth involved in historical conversations about their neighborhood.”
In Portsmouth we also have the Bike Repair Hub, after community members expressed a need for affordable bike repair in New Columbia. We will expand the hours of operation this summer from one day a week to two, while providing mechanical trainings and a new Build-a-Bike program for neighbors who volunteer.
Tim Weeks, our lead mechanic at the Bike Repair Hub, explains, “One of the most interesting things about the work that is being done in New Columbia is the positive effect it has in the community that I’ve seen year after year. I feel this has so much to do with the on-the-ground type of advocacy and direct action work that we are doing out there. The influence and respect both given and shown by staff, volunteers, and community members has grown. We are all growing together.”
Why it’s important to support this work
The Catalyst Award honors our community engagement work in Cully and Portsmouth. Currently, this work is the most difficult to find funding for. Many organizations are excited about what we do, but our programs do not fit neatly into their parameters for funding. Our community engagement work focuses on supporting individuals with deeper and more meaningful interactions. Often, programs that cast a wider net with limited engagement are more fundable because their numbers are impressive. But we believe strongly in our work to empower communities to advocate for healthier, safer, more equitable neighborhoods. And we know many of you believe in supporting the power of this work, too. We invite you to join us in supporting the Community Cycling Center this year.
“If I had sufficient funding for our program, we would be able to have more ABCs,” explains Lale. “We would be able to provide more support throughout the city. I would be able to support more individuals in a well-rounded manner.”
Thank you again to the Alliance for Biking & Walking and the League for this wonderful recognition. We are truly honored. And thank you to all of the community bike organizations around the country who continue to inspire our work each year.