Getting to know: Zan Gibbs, Adult Program Coordinator
Zan has been at the Community Cycling Center since August 2009. Over the past 10 months, she has retooled the Create a Commuter program, updated the Bike Maintenance Classes curricula, and reinvigorated Get Lit outreach. We are incredibly lucky to have Zan on the team and not just because she shows up to staff parties in wigs and silver lamÃ© and brings in baked goods all the time.
What brought you to the Community Cycling Center?
I was very inspired by the Community Cycling Center’s tagline: “We believe the bicycle is a tool for empowerment and a vehicle for change.” When I interviewed, I asked all the staff present what the “change” part of that sentence meant to them and I really appreciated all of their answers.
Why do you work here?
I work here because I do believe that meaningful change and growth can happen through community building and bicycle access. Having worked for social service agencies for 12 years with a mental health support and counseling model, I felt drawn to the Community Cycling Center’s ability to merge aspects of social change with tangible tools, such as after-school programs for kids, adult Create a Commuter workshops, and maintenance lessons to increase self sufficiency.
What is your job title? What do you do?
I am the Adult Program Coordinator. I do a lot of collaborating with community partners and partner agencies to deliver culturally competent and relevant bicycle programming. I coordinate the Create a Commuter program, which delivers free bicycles and five-hour workshops to 169 low income adults in employment programs every year. I work closely with agencies that have comprehensive workforce development training, to help remove transportation barriers for low-income adults who are seeking jobs.
I also coordinate the Get Lit program, which lights up unlit cyclists at dangerous intersections, making the streets safer for everyone.
I coordinate the registration for our maintenance classes and support the instructors who teach those classes with trainings about adult education and best practices in the classroom.
And lastly, I help out with the partner agency collaborations for all of the Bikes for Kids and Holiday Bike Drive related events. I am the liaison with the social service agencies and low income housing communities.
What aspect of our work do you find most exciting right now?
We have just concluded a full program year for Create a Commuter, so I am really excited to be able to now take a step back and look at all of the successes of that program and where we have room to grow. One of our focuses for the next program year is to move away from simply delivering services and begin to support more community building. This could include figuring out ways to not only provide bicycles and workshops, but also provide ongoing support and resources with things like organized rides, leadership development, and maintenance classes.
I am very excited about the directions we moving in with the Understanding Barriers work. Moving into the next year I think it will be very effective to take everything we have learned over the last two years and really incorporate that into our program delivery, again focusing on community building, growth, and sustainability.
What is your dream bike?
A fully outfitted touring bike! I’d love a comfortable touring-specific frame, built up with a Dura Ace triple group, front and rear racks, handle bar bag, lights, safety flags, an altimeter, a GPS, SPD pedals and some clip in Keen shoes!
What do you do when you’re not here?
Is it redundant to say I love to ride my bike? Specifically, I really enjoy distance road racing such as multi-day stage races, endurance events, century rides, mountain biking all over Oregon, and self-sufficient bike touring.
I love to cook and eat healthy food, and spend a lot of time in my kitchen making everything from scratch, including my own kombucha and gluten-free deserts.
I really enjoy working with anti-oppression workgroups, and collaborating on justice and social change projects. I also like playing Scrabble, deconstructing the messages in Lady Gaga videos and doing random and haphazard home repair projects.
What would the title of your biopic be? Who would play you?
Endeavor to Dive with Hilary Swank. Specifically I’d like Hilary Swank to be a combination of the two characters she played in Million Dollar Baby and Boys Don’t Cry. You’re asking me to dream right?
Tell us your favorite Create a Commuter story.
Oh, there are so many! I hate to play favorites but I will share one that was really impactful for me. At one of the workshops, we closed with the question: “Where are you most excited to ride your new bicycle?,” and one of the participants said that he was really excited to ride his bicycle to his three-year-old son’s house, as previously his transportation options had really limited his abilities to visit his son regularly. You could really hear it in his voice, and see it in his face that having a bicycle for him was about more than just freedom, but it was also about family connection and being able to be the kind of father he wants to be now that he had overcome some other barriers in his life and was stable and job seeking.
Photo by Ben Latterell