Slow Roll August Rides Recap

Eighty-eight degrees and sunny may sound like the perfect summer day–but it can make for a sweaty bike ride! Riders gathered on August 8 near Cycles for Change’s St. Paul shop for our last Frogtown/Rondo ride of the season. The route for the ride was co-created by C4C’s new youth apprentices finishing up their 8-week summer program–and they all helped bike marshal the ride as well, as ride leads, corkers, and sweeps.

Under the hot August sun, about 40 riders convened–half of them youth. The group set out for a slow ride from University to Charles to Dale to Marshall to Grotto and back to University. Riders crossed bike/ped bridges over I-94 on Mackubin and Grotto, and stopped at Victoria and Blair on the East side of Frogtown Park and Farm to listen to C4C youth apprentice Sukie talk about the history of the Frogtown neighborhood. Did you know it was once a swamp and home to millions of frogs before the swamp disappeared and German settlers arrived? Sukie expressed his love of this neighborhood for its cultural diversity.

After hauling up probably the only two hills in Frogtown and tooling along a little path that runs from the Rondo library to Carty Park, riders completed a 5 mile ride. Upon returning to the starting point, C4C youth apprentice Zahkia addressed the group about the history of the Rondo neighborhood and the destruction I-94 created. Riders enjoyed chicken wings, cornbread, and mac and cheese from Hickory Hut while being mesmerized by a special guest–a 6-week old puppy sleeping in a puppy carrier.

For the last ride of the year, Slow Roll St. Paul connected with the Lower Phalen Creek Project, which helped bring an Indigenous focus to the bike ride on the East Side. MN Native Food Perspectives catered and served delicious cedar tea, wild rice, and fry bread. Sharon Day, Anishinaabe elder and executive director of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, visited the group of riders near the shores of Lake Phalen and talked about the cultural importance of water to Indigenous peoples, particularly to Indigenous women. She outlined the truth that water is a life giver, and because women also give life they are the keepers of the water. Melanie Kleiss and Mishaila Bowman of the Lower Phalen Creek Project followed, adding to the importance of water in communities.

With this in mind, riders kicked off on the ride route, which followed the proposed daylighted sections of Phalen Creek. The creek historically flowed freely out of Lake Phalen, but was diverted entirely underground in a large storm pipe. The Lower Phalen Creek Project works to restore portions of the creek back above ground, which would then restore and stabilize stream banks, while bringing amenities to the East Side community. After riding along the Bruce Vento Trail, then down through a wooded ravine, riders took a quick break to catch their breath at a restored prairie decorated with a public art installation.

Once back at Phalen Lake, participants finished off the night and the Slow Roll St. Paul season with some words from Wakíŋyaŋ and Thorne LaPointe and Crystal Norcross. They shared the relationship between water and Indigenous people, and the connection between life and water. With that, they ended the evening, along with the Slow Roll season, with a Lakota water song and closing prayer.

Thanks again to all of our outstanding partners for making Slow Roll St. Paul the success it was this year! It was great to learn about all of the incredible work organizations are doing in our community, and even better with a belly full of food from local restaurants. Make sure you stay connected to everyone that helped shape this year’s Slow Roll St. Paul:

And a special shout-out to our amazing crew of bike marshals! We couldn’t have done it without all of you showing up week after week to help keep our riders safe. Thank you!

Learn to Ride Season Update

 

From Program Coordinator Celeste Verhelst:

As the Program Coordinator for Learn to Ride, I look forward with glee and gratitude to the yelps of joy and determined smiling faces of diverse folks learning to ride a bicycle each class. September marks our last four-week session, which has started off with a lot of enthusiasm and many folks pedaling on the first day. It’s such an inspiration to see adults conquering their fears to learn something new, to not be afraid to fall and get back up again, and to create a supportive encouraging atmosphere for everyone in the group. Of course, bicycle riding is so blissful, so the smiles the first time someone pedals are priceless. Sometimes at the end of class when we do our last go-around, our cheeks are hurting from so much smiling. Sometimes there are little wounds to bandage from passionate souls determined to keep pedaling. And sometimes there are also tears of joy and howls of success bolstered by cheers from the whole class.

The structure of the class starts with social justice and safe, accessible space for all folks. The foundation of Cycles for Change is making space for everyone’s voice, celebrating each other’s successes, and encouraging folks to be bike leaders in their communities. Mad thanks to my predecessors and rad folks who have made this program what it is! And the volunteers! Volunteers in the Learn to Ride program have been some of the best folks I’ve met and some of our best volunteers are folks who have completed the program and want to teach others the skills. This class is incredible! It just makes everyone feel good. It’s like seeing people sprout wings, but they are wheels. And, really, they do all the work. Learn to Ride teaches folks to find their own balance and to trust themselves and their relationship with the beautiful machine that is the bicycle. Many folks that join the class are immigrants, women who have not necessarily been encouraged by their culture to ride bikes, parents who have taught their kids and want to learn so they can keep up with them, or folks who just grew up in this country moving often in busy cities where it wasn’t a safe option to learn. Usually on the first day students are kind of skeptical, but that quickly changes as they learn to build balance, learn about the mechanics of the bike, and realize how great it feels to ride. Once they start pedaling it’s hard to get them to stop. With all the great bike paths here in the Twin Cities, who wouldn’t want to learn to ride a bike? We hope to get some nice fall rides in with all the graduated cyclists from the class. Bicycle riding is the perfect antidote for so many stresses–it increases health, balance, joy, and is totally free and freeing! It gets you to beautiful places in nature, requires no resource extraction or oppressing other beings. I’m so grateful to get to be a part of this experience and share this joy with others!

 

Reception for September Artists This Saturday

Cycles for Change is excited to announce the September artists featured in our Minneapolis shop: Constanza De La O Carballo and Kenneth Antonio Rivera, and their show, Monarchildren.

This exhibit is a series of paintings highlighting the particular plight of children within the current global human migration crises.

Please join us at Cycles for Change Minneapolis this Saturday, September 8 from 5:00-7:00pm to celebrate Monarchildren on the day of the 10th annual Minneapolis Monarch Festival!

Meet the artists behind the work–they’ll have prints for sale and we’ll have snacks and drinks. This event is free and open to the public.

 

 

More about the art:

Monarchildren: The migration eco-system

The migration of the monarch butterflies, shows us that movement of all living things across the globe is essential to its survival.

This exhibit is a series of paintings highlighting the particular plight of children within the current global human migration crises. On every continent, developed countries have put up physical, legal, and bureaucratic borders to stop people from developing countries entering their nation. We have become international gated communities that want to pretend the suffering of others outside our walls is not our concern. We hoard our wealth and privilege while ignoring that this very wealth and these privileges have been obtained at the expense of the people we want to keep out. For hundreds of years, we have robbed these countries of their natural resources, sold them our weapons, meddled in their governments, and crippled them with debt. And in our wake, we have left them with war, famine, extreme poverty, political instability, and ruthless dictators. Now across the Americas, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia, we have people in their millions trying to escape the devastation we have caused, knocking on the gates of our borders asking for help.

Migration of the monarch butterfly shows us that movement of all living beings across the globe is essential to its survival. Migration is a critical component of our environmental eco-system. We have created the monarchildren to show that it is also essential to our social,
economic, and political eco-system that human beings be allowed to migrate. It is a human right, and it is only the very least of what wealthy nations owe to the people of the developing world.