3 Things you need to know about Cycling for Change
By Kelly Hansen, Program Director
Jorge, an 11 year old who frequents the Bike Skills Park at New Columbia, wanted to learn to do a wheelie. He asked me for help. I told him I couldn’t help. One day I showed up and found him covered in dust with skinned elbows riding around on the berms popping his front wheel off the ground a little at a time until he discovered his tipping point.
Jorge embodies the can-do spirit of many community members we partner with at New Columbia. Asking for help, taking it where they can get it, and not being afraid to crash if they have to teach themselves. For years, our bike advocacy groups at both New Columbia and Hacienda CDC have been doing the great work of community organizing with little training. Their tool is their tenacity, and expertise is knowledge of what makes their neighbors tick. While I still can’t offer formal instruction to Jorge to learn to do a wheelie, I’m happy to say that the Community Cycling Center has a response to the request for help in community organizing: our Cycling for Change Class!
What you need to know about Cycling for Change:
- What it is. Cycling for Change is a community organizing class that with the goal of developing community leaders. The progression of lessons follows the Community Activism Cycle – a model that allows folks to identify problems, develop themselves as leaders, set goals, break the goals down into smaller components, and take collective action. The course combines direct instruction, field trips, and project-based-learning to meet objectives. The bicycle is a tool and uniting theme.
- Who it is. Cycling for Change’s first cohort is 7 community members who live, work, play or pray in the New Columbia Neighborhood. It is a mix of people who have participated in other Community Cycling Center activities and events including Create a Commuter workshops, We All Can Ride bike committee, and the Take Back the Streets bike ride and health fair. We selected the team through an application process that included participants identifying the issues they want to tackle in their communities.
- What we’ll accomplish. Though the class covers topics from public speaking to growth mindset, it culminates in a group project to practice skills and make a difference in the community. This project portion was inspired by our summer Take Back the Streets ride, where community leaders Jason Washington and DeMarcus Preston, in partnership with the Community Cycling Center, brought over 300 people to the streets to send a positive message to youth of peace and prosperity in their ride to stop the violence. Stay tuned to see what the Cycling for Change cohort plans this spring!
The Cycling for Change cohort is engaging on new subjects, learning new skills, and employing new tools to transform their community. Next time you come up to New Columbia, feel the positive energy in the air, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see Jorge popping a wheelie.