Volunteer Spotlight: Kristin Bott
On the very first day she volunteered with us, way back in April of 2009, Kristin ended up not only doing a million things – from fitting helmets to collecting bikes to installing Get Lit lights – but doing them all extremely well and offering amazing feedback along the way. Kristin has brought this flexibility, insightfulness and general omnipotence to her volunteer work ever since. She teaches safety lessons at outreach events, empowers adults to earn bikes at Create a Commuter workshops, leads armies of helmet fitters at the Holiday Bike Drive, and in all likelihood can turn water into chain lube with a snap of her fingers.
Why do you volunteer here?
The Community Cycling Center staff and volunteers are delightful. It feels good to come together to run programs focused on the needs of the people being served, where it feels like folks are engaged in a very mindful and empowering way. Plus, Brian and Zan are good volunteer stewards â€“ I feel like my time is being used well, and my input and presence are valued. Or, simply stated: I like what the Community Cycling Center does, so it’s easy to offer my spare minutes to help.
What’s your favorite aspect of volunteering here?
I like kids, I like teaching, I like bikes. For me, one of the most powerful aspects of biking has always been independence. (I can move where I want to, when I want to; I can fix my own vehicle and carry it up the stairs.) By volunteering with the Community Cycling Center, I feel like I’m helping make that independence a bit more accessible to other people.
Plus, I get to do fun things like save eggs from being smashed (bike safety), and encourage kids to make monster noises (helmet fitting). Helmet fitting also has the bonus of getting to remind kids that they have big, smart, important brains â€“ something everyone could use to hear more often, bikes and helmets aside.
What is your favorite Community Cycling Center program?
Why do you ask such hard questions?
The Holiday Bike Drive is an amazing day â€“ watching so many people and resources come together for a common goal is very powerful. But I also really enjoyed the Bikes For Kids events this past summer â€“ smaller, less-intense days where we had more time and space to connect with the kids. Both of these are fulfilling because we’re empowering kids to move independently, have fun, and make smart choices. Get Lit! is very satisfying because we’re doing something tangible to help folks be safer as they ride. I look forward to working with the Create a Commuter program to connect with adults â€“ but so far, schedule conflicts are my downfall.
You are amazing with children. They are so engaged when you are teaching bike safety lessons or telling them about helmet safety. What’s your secret?
You need to be excited about what you’re doing â€“ communicate through your attitude and actions that what you’re doing/teaching matters and that you’re jazzed about it. Treat kids with respect. Be interested in them, be communicative; if they’re not interested in what you’re doing, figure out what they need, adjust your focus and bring them back. Also, have fun â€“ even fitting helmets has great potential to be entertaining and hilarious, despite also being informative.
What is your dream bike?
My commuter bike is pretty dreamy â€“ just a simple single speed that carries me, and my stuff, all over Portland. If I could wish for a new thing, it’d be a touring bike â€“ something with gears that I can ride all the live-long day, up and down all kinds of terrain, and carry things for bike-based adventures.
What do you do when you’re not volunteering here?
Ride/break/fix my bike, cook and grow food, read books. I teach at OMSI on occasion, and work full-time at the BTA. This past year was my first attempt at racing bikes (with team Slow, no joke!) in Oregon. Projects for this winter include making more pies, baking bread, brewing beer, and trying to get back into running reasonable distances.
Photo by Kim Oahnh Nguyen