Square Lake Film and Music Festival Ride Recap

Cycles for Change collaborated with the Hub Bike Co-op and the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota to lead a group of 50 riders from Minneapolis and St. Paul to the 2018 Square Lake Film and Music Festival on August 11 near Stillwater, MN.

 Andrew, C4C Open Shop Minneapolis Coordinator and Retail Mechanic, helped lead the ride with Will S. from C4C, Will W. from Bike MN, and Lisa from the Hub.

 “Highlights for me along the route were chatting with riders and seeing animals and nature as we pedaled away from the ‘big city.’ Once there, we enjoyed various musical acts, short films, and visual art. The organizing principal of this event seems to be the opportunity to experience music, film, and art by established and emerging creators, and to share a meandering stream of beautiful and unexpected moments with all that attend. The festival is kid friendly, for sure. A few meteors were spotted Saturday night. Sunday I decided to ride North to the Franconia Sculpture Park, a destination I highly recommend.” – Andrew

Will, C4C Minneapolis Retail Mechanic, went on the ride to the festival, as well–and it was his first time attending!

“This was my first time riding out to the Square Lake Festival, as well as my first ride with such a large group. It was a nice, pleasant ride through the Twin Cities to the Gateway Trail. Once we got on the trail it was nice and shady, just surrounded by nature and every beautiful shade of green. Riding to the festival was half the fun. All the music that day was great and the short films were very thought provoking. I particularly liked “Saul’s 108th Story.” The story’s key phrase, “don’t worry about it,” is now stuck in my mind. I ended the night with light-up frisbee and more music. The night sky out there was just amazing. I am very glad I went, and give a big thank you to everyone that helped out with the ride and to the festival organizers!” – Will

 Thanks to the Square Lake Festival organizers and funders, the Hub Bike Co-op, and the Bicycle Alliance of MN for the opportunity to be part of this event. We look forward to next year’s ride and festival already!

Slow Roll St. Paul July Rides Recap

Photo credit: Jonathan Pavlica Photography / http://www.pavlicaphotography.com

July has come and gone, and with it, another month of Slow Roll St. Paul rides. Didn’t make it out to a ride? We’ve got you covered–read on to catch up on what you missed!

For those who may not have heard of Slow Roll St. Paul, Slow Roll rides are big group bike rides organized throughout the country that, as you guessed it, slowly roll through neighborhoods.

Here in St. Paul, they’re organized collaboratively by Move Minnesota and Cycles for Change. But there’s always more to it than just a bike ride! With an added focus on building community in low-wealth neighborhoods and communities of color, these rides highlight community landmarks and feature speakers from local organizations and businesses that address issues these neighborhoods face.

On July 11, the focus of our ride was on connecting with residents in the Frogtown/Rondo neighborhoods. Organizers asked ride participants to take note of biking and walking infrastructure details during the ride, specifically as we rode on the bridges over I-94. We wanted to hear from people to better understand what makes getting around on foot or by bike challenging, how it could improve, what are people’s perceptions around safety on the street, and ultimately, what they would do if they could rethink Interstate-94.

This ride, C4C and MM partnered with Urban Farm and Garden Alliance, a collective of leaders and members of 7 unique garden plots in the Aurora/St. Anthony, Rondo, and Frogtown neighborhoods. Riders met outside of Pilgrim Baptist Church’s community garden and were greeted and welcomed by our host, Nate Galloway, who coordinates the garden and spoke about the development of the Pilgrim Garden and the history of the area.

Photo credit: Jonathan Pavlica Photography / http://www.pavlicaphotography.com

After the warm welcome, the group rolled out, starting with a quick ride over the year-old pedestrian and bike bridge on Grotto. Riders arrived at the first garden stop–the Lovejoy Community Garden–to hear from other local leaders about the history of the garden and its impact on the community. Tucked into a vacant lot, this plot could easily be missed by a person driving down the street, despite the verdant produce growing in between houses.

The group’s next stop was outside Maxfield Elementary School, where the Urban Farm and Garden Alliance manages a community garden plot that supports a gardening program for second grade science classes. Melvin Giles of the Urban Farm and Garden Alliance spoke to the group about the Rondo neighborhood’s tragic history after the community was nearly destroyed and generations of wealth disparities were exacerbated by Interstate-94’s construction. Melvin highlighted how important it is for communities of color to take steps towards building self-sufficiency, by feeding themselves rather than relying on unjust food systems that help keep communities unhealthy.

Once back at Pilgrim’s community garden, riders shared their fresh takes on what biking in a community bisected by a major interstate highway felt like, over food from the family-owned Golden Thyme Coffee & Cafe.

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Meanwhile on the other side of Downtown St. Paul, a similar scene was being planned. On July 25, bikes and bikers gathered outside of the gorgeous East Side Freedom Library, a historic Carnegie library building in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood. This ride focused on workers’ rights (which the ESFL also focuses on), and how the issue of a minimum wage carveout affects youth, tipped workers, and immigrants. C4C and MM were joined by ESFL’s Peter Rachleff and Clarence White, as well as several 15NOW supporters.

The day of the ride began ominously with rain clouds in the sky. But by late afternoon we had only a few sprinkles and riders gathered as the sun began to shine, ready for a cool evening ride.

The group set off toward Lake Phalen and made its first stop at Johnson High School where Pheng Xiong, a student at Johnson and member of Urban Roots, talked about the importance of a $15 minimum wage, and why youth should not be exempt this minimum. With another stop at Hmong Village, we heard from Nelsie Yang and SuChann Yang, who spoke about growing up on the East Side. We also heard from Joey Giffen-Hunter. They spoke of how a low minimum wage affected their ability to sustain a family and buy a home.

Riders returned to the East Side Freedom Library sooner than the food arrived, and had time to meet neighbors, check out the library, and move to the music on the speakers outside. Riders heard from one last speaker, a young person introduced by Perryline from CTUL, who spoke about how they left a job at a fast food place and how it was hard to organize because of backlash. She discussed the false promises about the business changing and paying them more and how nothing ever happened. She felt like they didn’t care about the workers and how much they struggled to just get by. The long awaited meal was from Cajun Life, an East Side restaurant that supports a $15 minimum wage and does care about their workers. The food was worth the wait–the fried chicken, catfish, and potatoes were devoured as the sun set on another gorgeous July night in St. Paul.

Staffing Updates at C4C

Last month, we bid farewell to Program Coordinator Azul (Anneka) Kmiecik as they moved on to pursue a different employment opportunity. We are so grateful for the ideas and positive energy that Azul brought to C4C and wish them well in their new endeavors!

We internally promoted our Program Associate Celeste Verhelst to the Program Coordinator position. She was the obvious and perfect fit for the position. Celeste’s work will primarily be to manage the Learn to Ride program, while supporting Open Shop.

Additionally, we’ve welcomed Tom Parker (they/them) as our new Program Associate, and they will be working within the Learn to Ride, Open Shop, and Retail programs. Please welcome Tom when you see them!