What’s new with you(th)?


Meet our Summer 2017 cohort of youth apprentices: Abdi, Joseph, Abdirahman, Ramiro, Josue, Deqo, Esmerelda, and Mainou (pictured above at Quality Bicycle Products (QBP) with Youth Program assistants). They kicked off their summer training program at the end of June, and the eight high schoolers are spending three days a week engaged in a variety of learning opportunities. Here’s a peek into their summer apprenticeship experience.


What has been your favorite activity so far?

“Slow Roll, because you get to interact with all different people.” – Abdi


Where’s the best place you’ve visited during your apprenticeship?

“Probably the Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center. It was just a lively place. There was food, celebrating, and I got to see what was going on in people’s communities.” – Joseph


What does community mean to you?

“Everybody coming together.”  – Abdirahman


What is Cycles for Change for you?

“A program that builds on bikes and gets me ready for a career.” – Ramiro


Have you made any friends?

“All the youth apprentices are my friends, and the staff, too, definitely.” – Josue


What have you learned about bikes?

“They keep your heart going faster. And when your heart goes faster, your heart pumps more blood and it makes you feel better.” – Deqo


What’s something you’ve learned that doesn’t have anything to do with bikes?

“It doesn’t matter who you are, you are going to get accepted here [at Cycles for Change].” – Esmerelda


What’s something you’re looking forward to?

“I am looking forward to leading our own Slow Roll.” – Mainou


Meet the Staff #5: Not their first time around the block


By: Halla Dontje Lindell

“Stories are important,” said Sheldon Mains (he/him), Special Projects Adviser for Cycles for Change. As one of the original Learn to Ride instructors, the first director of what is now Cycles for Change’s Minneapolis Shop, and an electrical-engineer-turned-nonprofit-adviser, Sheldon has stories aplenty. Additionally, Jason Partridge (he/him), Executive Director of Cycles for Change, has his own wealth of adventures and experiences from his almost 12 years in a leadership position at Cycles for Change.

Sheldon has lived in Minneapolis nearly his entire life. He earned his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and has worked in energy conservation.

“I liked working with people more than electrons,” Sheldon confessed, so he went back to school to get a master’s degree in public policy from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Since then, he’s worked with a variety of organizations—particularly nonprofits—including the Twin Cities Daily Planet, the Minneapolis Public Library Board, and the Cable Access Center in Minneapolis. His current role at Cycles for Change is adviser for the upcoming Minneapolis shop move.

Jason attended Macalester College in St. Paul, where he spent time “hunting for sweet bikes” in the dumpsters of Express Bikes and other nearby shops, along with studying Geography. He is a co-founder of the campus bike club, Mac Bike, and started a bike share program and open shop program out of a dorm basement. (The student organization is still going strong to this day.) The summer after his junior year of college, he took a two month, 2500-mile bike tour with another student he met through Mac Bikes. Since graduating, he’s been a consistent presence at Cycles for Change. Jason writes grants, program evaluation plans, budgets, and scenario projections; meets with funders, community members, and employees of other nonprofits; and fits in annual bike tours during the winter off-season.

These long-timers may have been around for a while, but their sincere enthusiasm for pure bicycling hasn’t dwindled.

“I’m a sports dork,” Jason said. “I play in a wood bat baseball league as a pitcher, and I also play in a recreational basketball league. I’ve always been a physically-embodied person. My world isn’t as good when I’m sitting at a table or a desk the whole time. For me as a young person, being able to go anywhere I wanted on the power of my own two legs, or to be a able to cross a continent on the power of my body… I don’t know. It’s just a viscerally enjoyable experience.”

For Sheldon, the attraction of bicycling has more to do with the opportunity to spend time outdoors and the practical aspect of using a bike to commute.

“I’m not a sports dork,” Sheldon said. “I have really bad hand-eye coordination, so any ball sports are totally out. But I love being outside, and I just love recreational and commuting bicycling.”

Sheldon has cycled through a variety of work commutes.

“From third grade on, I bicycled to my elementary school, which was a mile away, but I didn’t bike to my junior high or high school, even though they were within bicycling distance—because that wasn’t cool. While working for an engineering corporation, I had a five minute ride to work because it was all downhill, and I got to work and wasn’t sweaty. And then it was a 40 minute ride home, and I got my exercise because it was all uphill. It was perfect. When I worked in Hopkins, before there were any trails, I would bicycle the 12 miles from Seward [neighborhood in Minneapolis] and I had to use Excelsior Boulevard, which was scary. That was the only route. I’ve always liked biking. My favorite bike—the bike I ride the most—is probably older than most people at [Cycles for Change], a 1988 Trek road bike.”

Since both Jason and Sheldon have been involved with the organization, they have sought to find the intersection of bicycling with justice, equity, and access through the way they do their work and check their own identities.

“I feel a sense of ownership over this work,” Jason said. “I don’t mean that in a way that takes ownership away from anyone else, but that I feel personally responsible for forwarding the mission of Cycles for Change to deepen our integration with this neighborhood and our depth of commitment and execution towards being a justice organization that uses bicycles as a tool to change our society. I believe there is a place for white people, for privileged white men in this movement. I’m doing a ton of learning about what that place actually is, and how I, as a leader in this organization, need to change the way I do my work and how I need to grow… I’m trying to build those relationships of accountability with other white dudes; I’m trying to build relationships with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), WTF (Women, Trans, Femme) leadership of this organization, and to step back and allow [them to lead] the direction and vision of this organization.

“And what I feel like I have been uniquely successful in doing is bringing resources—particularly financial resources—to help grow the voice of this organization. If there’s a way that I’ve been able to use my privilege as a writer with a fancy education, I think that’s a very specific place.”

Sheldon is grateful for those who have helped him find his place.

“As a 60-some-year-old white male, I have to be conscious of my identity,” he said. “I’m not always great at leaving room for people. I try, I make mistakes, I ask people for help… It’s important to leave space for others to make decisions, have roles, and express their opinions, and I want to make sure people are comfortable enough to talk to me when I make mistakes. And I can’t list the number of people who have helped me; there have been so many.”

As Sheldon and Jason continue to learn alongside us all, they also bring wisdom to share. Sheldon wants to encourage confidence and vision in others, particularly the youth apprentices that work at Cycles for Change.

“In general, if you have something that you want to do, or you think is a great idea, don’t worry about the bureaucracy,” he said. “Ask forgiveness, not permission. Go ahead and do it. And if someone is on your case for doing it, say ‘whoops, sorry,’ and move on. But be brave.”

Jason encourages consideration of the ‘how’ question in the bicycling movement.

“I think movement builders need to do a better job of being specific,” he offered. “We can get into these plotted ideals, of ‘we want to build community, we want to change systems.’ But what does that mean? How do you do that? What does it take to change the infrastructure of how a city looks? We can’t just talk about nice things. We have to be able to tell a compelling story and get organized. But I love, love this work—I love the community of people that are in this space, I love the youth, I love the adults, I love the people that drop in, and I love the neighborhoods that we’re in. It’s been amazing to see where we were ten years ago or even five years ago compared to where we are now—and to think about where we are going to be in five years excites me and opens my heart.”


Thank you, volunteers!

Thank you to the dozens of volunteers who helped us build, saw, paint, and move on July 22! We have more help than we expected and got so much accomplished! Special shoutout to the team of designers at Yeah Maybe Gallery for their thoughtful guidance in helping us create this new space!

Photos by Monica Bryand.

Learn to Ride Season Update


It’s August and we’re already starting our fourth session of Learn to Ride bike classes for adults and teenagers. And we’ve had a wonderful group of students so far this season. They come for all sorts of reasons―a personal challenge to learn something new, a desire to go on rides with their kids or partners, a new way to be healthy and happy in their bodies, and more. Although motivations for learning to ride a bicycle may be different among folks, everyone shares a dedication and passion to learn. We instructors never cease to be amazed at our students―whether they pick up balancing, gliding, and pedaling in one class or four―their laughter, smiles, and hard work of learning to ride motivates us all to challenge ourselves in new ways. Check out some of the great photos from our classes and rides by clicking the link below. If you’d like to learn more about Learn to Ride classes or to be involved as a volunteer in the future, please email Anneka at [email protected].

Send C4C Youth 2 DC!


Donate now!

Last year, Cycles for Change hosted the Youth Bike Summit in St. Paul, MN. This year, we are traveling to Washington, DC / Arlington, VA to attend the Summit! Help us get 8 youth and 2 adults to this 3-day, annual, national conference! The Youth Bike Summit includes keynote speakers, workshops, networking, and bike rides, all while learning, discussing, and building game plans around how youth are our future’s movement builders and how bikes are catalysts for social change. In April, you helped C4C raise half of the funds needed for this trip at the Youth Apprenticeship Silent Auction. Now, we need you to help us raise the other half of the funds.

YBS costs $650 per person.

Funding goes towards purchasing plane tickets ($300 each), Youth Bike Summit registration tickets ($35 each), hotel rooms ($100 a night), food, public transit, and educational sightseeing adventures including a visit to the National Museum of the American Indian.

Help us raise $3,325 by September 1, 2017!

If you want to see our youth apprentices in action, stop by our tent at Open Streets Franklin Ave on August 27 (we’ll be set up outside our new Minneapolis shop at Franklin and 26th). Our apprentices will be teaching you how to fix a flat and running a bike tune-up station. You can donate to the fundraiser there as well.

Levels of giving:
Move: $25 – Pays for public transit for one person (x10)
Engage: $50 – Pays for a YBS ticket for one person (x10)
Sleep: $100 – Pays for one hotel room for one night (x3x3)
Eat: $200 – Pays for meals for one person (x10)
Air: $300 – Pays for one round-trip ticket for one person (x10)

Donate now!

Learn more about Cycles for Change’s Youth Apprenticeship Program here.

Our Minneapolis Shop is Moving!

Cycles for Change’s Minneapolis location is moving to 2010 26th Avenue (corner of Franklin and 26th Avenue). The new space will be large enough to include a full retail shop (like the St. Paul location) selling a large selection of used bikes and accessories. We’ll also provide bike repair services, a great open shop area, and a public community space. This new space will be more flexible, easier to find, and will allow us to better serve our Minneapolis community. We’re working with a great group of volunteer designers from Yeah Maybe Gallery, just down the street from our new space. Together, we’ve spent the past two months visioning and designing, and we’re set to create a fantastic space.

The move will happen Mid-July to Mid-August. Open Shop and Grease Rag will not be held at Cycles for Change Minneapolis from Monday, July 17 to Tuesday, August 15 during the move.

We will officially re-open at the new space on Wednesday, August 16!


Meet the Staff Series #4

By: Halla Dontje Lindell

Cycles for Change is not simply a bike shop, but rather a community bike shop. In fact, some might say the organization is as much of an expert in fostering community as it is an expert in upcycling bicycles. Two artists in particular have contributed to the creation of the strong community that characterizes Cycles for Change.

Stephanie Schultz (she/her), Development and Communications Coordinator, hails from St. Paul, although she has lived in southwestern Minnesota and rural South Dakota as well. She describes her work as “design, communications, fundraising, and marketing…creating opportunities, assisting people in learning, and helping people find our classes and events.”

Skye Vang (they/them), Slow Roll St. Paul Organizer, grew up moving around so much that they attended nine different schools from kindergarten to high school, but currently considers South Minneapolis home. Skye joined the Cycles for Change team not entirely convinced that bicycling was a passion of theirs, but nevertheless they found their fit.

“I’ve always been about doing things that are a little bit slower, things you can take your time with, things that are a little more accessible to people,” Skye explained.

Their life philosophy aligns with Cycles for Change’s Slow Roll St. Paul program, which Skye coordinates. Slow Roll St. Paul occurs every other Wednesday evening from the beginning of June to the end of September, and is a no-drop ride for bikers of all abilities.

Stephanie is also grounded in the philosophy of slowing down and intentionally working to create things that increase accessibility to the public. She studied creative writing, graphic design, and art throughout undergraduate and graduate school. Afterwards, she tried out communications and design work in traditional environments, and found it wasn’t for her.

“I spent time working in both university and agency settings, and I disliked the way it was set up, the way the work was doled out to me, and the way I was micromanaged,” Stephanie explained. “I didn’t like making products that didn’t mean anything to me, or ones that were only seen by a small select group of people.”

Once Stephanie knew she wanted to find a different setting in which to contribute her skills, she applied to an AmeriCorps program called VISTA, a program specific to indirect service and capacity building in local nonprofits. Stephanie was part of a cohort of 20 other VISTA members, who were placed in different organizations throughout the city of St. Paul.

Stephanie finished off her first year with AmeriCorps VISTA and Cycles for Change, and liked it enough that she stayed for a second year. When her second VISTA term is over, she will transition to a full-time staff member in August to continue doing the work she’s done the past two years.

“I love this work. I love who I work with. I love getting to see all the different aspects of what we do,” Stephanie stated emphatically. “I go into Open Shop and a youth apprentice helps me, and I learn something about my bike that I never knew before. I’ve been volunteering with the Learn to Ride program, and even on day one some of them start pedaling. It’s amazing how fast it happens. Last month there was a participant who asked my name, and then said ‘Stephanie, I’ll always remember you when I ride my bike.’ Things like that help me know that this work really matters, even if it’s just that one person that said something to me. That’s why I want to stay here. I’m not always doing direct service stuff; it’s mostly sitting at a desk. But I’m doing that desk work so the participants can have awesome experiences.”

Skye, on the other hand, applied to an opening at Cycles for Change when they found out the organization was specifically seeking Queer/Trans and People of Color for an open position due to the trend of overarchingly white demographics within bicycle nonprofits. Skye brings previous experience working in the nonprofit world and appreciates working somewhere dedicated to “bringing on more people on who have those different voices and perspectives that can make our work better and more well-rounded.”

Skye works directly with community members, local businesses, and artists and arts organizations to create a specific feel, vision, and space for Slow Roll.

“Slow Roll is a space for people who don’t generally have space in larger society,” Skye said. “We’re unapologetic and explicit about that. That’s what I really like about Slow Roll—that we can make it as accessible, inclusive, and welcoming as we can. If people come into this space and are mad that we are trying to be inclusive, I can talk to them and say, ‘Hey, you can probably go to any other ride in the Twin Cities and feel like you fit in.’ I’m not here to make you feel better about that, and this is one space that a lot of people get to come to and not feel like they are being mistreated or the subjects of microaggressions or bigotry.”

Skye further acknowledges that Slow Roll is a small piece of a larger shift.

“This is one space, but I want it to be part of something bigger,” they said. “We’re not doing something that’s brand new. Grease Rag [a Woman/Trans/Femme bicycling collective] is doing things that we can only aspire to do. But every space can be better, more inclusive, and radical in ways where we aren’t doing things that are harmful to other communities.”

Stephanie and Skye continue to create in platforms outside of Cycles for Change, too. Stephanie does creative writing and poetry alongside her work at Cycles for Change.

“It’s a way for me to process the world and try to make sense of things,” she said. “It’s just everyday things that happen, it’s wondering about all these the things that go on in our lives, it’s writing about place and how I fit in here, how we all fit in here, and what it all means.”

As for Skye, choosing one medium is impossible.

“I’ve always been a person who’s fond of all sorts of expression. I’m into music. I’m not a performer in any way, but I’m into music production. I’m into all sorts of visual arts, cinematography and film, sculpture, pottery, painting, photography, fashion. My dream job is to be a fashion stylist, and just style people to look cool… Well, that’s one of my dream jobs… I just love all things that you get to make your own, that you put a little of yourself into, or you show a little bit of other people and their souls.”

Stephanie and Skye both agree that fashion is an important part of their lives and personal expression. Stephanie is an avid garage-saler and thrift store shopper.

“I think for someone like me who’s introverted and quiet, my treasure-hunting is an artform. It’s the way I express myself, through my clothes, and I don’t have to say something to do that.”

For Skye, fashion allows them to exist outside of socially-imposed parameters of how a person can or should be.

“Clothes have no gender and you can wear whatever you want to wear,” Skye said. “When you allow yourself to take gender out of clothes, makeup, or hair, you allow yourself to show up authentically more in real and cool ways that a lot of people don’t allow themselves to do because they are so confined by these parameters or cookie-cutter molds of how people should show up. When we allow ourselves to shop at thrift stores and wear floral or lace and cut our hair however, it expands expression. That in itself is an artform—living and breathing and doing these things.”

Showing up authentically is important to Skye, particularly when interacting with the youth apprentices at Cycles for Change.

“As a queer and trans Asian person, I exist a little differently than most people in the queer/trans community and I exist a little differently than most people in the Hmong community,” they said. “I show up in the world, and I try to be authentic. That is both hard and dangerous. I’m going to be 25 next week, so it took a long time to be able to do that. I feel like the youth apprentices who are working here, especially the queer and/or trans Hmong youth, are fond of me because they are like me and I am older than them. That is really amazing to me, because I feel like if I was their age, 18 years and younger, and I had someone like me who existed in an authentic way and loved doing that, that that would have been so life changing for me. I think about the folks that I met when I was older than 18 who changed my life, shaped my leadership, and impacted me so much, and I can only hope to do that for the [youth apprentices]. I think that it is really telling what it looks like to have folks in an organization that really reflect your community and for youth to have people to look up to, talk to, and ask questions of without fearing that they will be judged or misunderstood.”

Stephanie and Skye, and the skills and experiences they bring to Cycles for Change, are invaluable. Stephanie’s fundraising and communications work is pivotal in creating opportunities for others. By coordinating Slow Roll St. Paul rides, Skye can show up authentically and be a role model for young people in the community. In whatever creative form—fashion, creative writing, or community organizing—both will continue to bring art into their work.