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.

Meet the Staff Series #3: Open Shop Leads Open Up

By: Halla Dontje Lindell

If conspiratorial tones or muffled chuckling is heard around either of the Cycles for Change shops, there is a strong chance Jacob Schile (he/him/his), St. Paul Shop Programs Coordinator, or Andrew Magill (he/him/his), Minneapolis  Shop Programs Coordinator, is nearby.

These mechanics and teachers are the backbone of Open Shop at Cycles for Change, where they move from assisting one person to another—whether a neighborhood kid riding a battered BMX bike, someone with a brand new just-came-in-the-mail bike, a youth apprentice, a volunteer mechanic, or another staff member—all in stride. Although Andrew jokingly maintains that he spends most of his working hours picking up nitro cold press for the rest of the mechanic team, Jacob more accurately describes the work they both do as “answering questions about a variety of issues, but usually about bicycles.” Their joking, despite the oftentimes chaotic atmosphere of Open Shop, can be characterized by Jacob’s main catchphrase: “I’m just aiming for the most smiles per mile.”

Jacob was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, IA, but claims his “hometown” as Planet Earth, Alpha Centauri. Andrew is similarly hesitant to claim one specific hometown, but admits to growing up in Milwaukee, WI. And both Midwesterners didn’t fully embrace the bike scene until they were college students.

“I started biking when I was a kid, stopped biking when I got a car, and started biking [again] in college when I found a bike on the side of a road,” Jacob said. “I used biking for freedom. I liked to be able to just disappear. I started learning bike mechanics four years ago when I got a job fixing bikes at Erik’s [Bike Shop]. I’d worked on mopeds, but never fixing bicycles. Where did I learn to fix mopeds? The internet—same place I learned the most about bicycles.”

Andrew, on the other hand, became captivated by bicycling while riding a more upscale bike.

“My parents had bikes when I was real little,” Andrew said. “My mom had a 5-speed with a seat on the back that I would ride on; my dad would commute to work on a bicycle and in high school I would bike to school some. When I graduated from high school I got a Takara. Rad, it was rad. That was my only bike for close to ten years; I just rode it everywhere. When I went to college I would go on rides and get away from studying and all that, explore and get to places. I didn’t have a car. That’s probably when I fell in love [with biking]: in college. I still have that [Takara] frame.”

What keeps Jacob and Andrew motivated at work is the joy of repairing bikes as well as  the connections they are able to make with their co-workers and a wide community of Open Shop participants.

“Taking something that doesn’t work and making it better is satisfying,” Andrew said. “Like a lot of things, with bike repairs, there’s always something new to learn. Even though you fix a million flats, you can always learn about something that’s been around for a long time that you didn’t know about or some new technology that’s cool and actually pretty complicated. And I think with many bikes—not all—form and function meet. Bikes are tools to get around, but also impressive works of design. Bikes can be artistic and beautiful, and I think that keeps things interesting.”

Likewise, Jacob explains that in our day and age, things are more difficult to get repaired.

“Open up a car, nowadays, and there’s one piece of plastic over the hood,” he said. “We have all these electronics and they’re trying to ban the ‘Right to Repair’ in many states. Lots of people don’t get the opportunity to challenge themselves mechanically or they think ‘I’m not a mechanical person, and I can’t fix stuff.’ But if they hear about us and they end up here, we can teach the simplicity of the bicycle. You can learn how to fix a flat, you can learn how to adjust a brake, and you can feel some ownership over your bicycle. It’s no longer just a tool you’re using, but a tool you know how to fix. And it feels empowering to be able to offer those skills.”

Their passion isn’t limited to bicycles themselves, and includes the personal aspect of bike repair.

“I think getting to hear a bit about a person’s story, like why they want to buy a bike or how they got into biking or why they have this particular bike, and getting to know them a little is really cool, “ Andrew explained. “A bike is an object, but there’s a human side. Each bike that comes in comes in with a person.”

And at a time when many are thinking deeply about the power of collective and individual action to achieve change, Jacob and Andrew agree that fixing bikes is simply one (powerful) part of a larger movement.

“One time I saw this sign in the lobby of an apartment building that said ‘What skills do you have for the apocalypse?’” Andrew recalled. “Bike repair will definitely be needed. And more seriously, when we hit a point when we don’t have petroleum to fuel vehicles, people will still need a way to get around. Bikes are one way to slow the effects of climate change, and I also think it is easier to interact with people in public when you’re on a bike rather than in a car. That’s one of the things about a community bike shop—people come in from different walks of life but with a common interest. People have different things they are skilled at and passionate about, and all of that is needed. But people have to get to the protest, right? Direct action is important, but so is behind the scenes work.”

Jacob sees a community bike shop as an opportunity to model a shifting paradigm.

“Having a space like this, we can role model that there are alternate ways to meet problems,” he said. “Maybe someone has other skills, and they can see this model and be inspired. Riding a bicycle, even when only one trip a week, it’s still one trip a week saved. And more importantly, when the world’s falling apart, biking can give you some endorphins to think better and feel better.”

Finally, the program coordinators emphasize their gratitude that they are a part of the Cycles for Change community.

“If you have to make a living, if you can do it in a way that makes someone’s day better or advances someone’s ability to do something around bikes, that’s a cool thing,” Andrew said

“There’s not a place I have ever known like C4C,” Jacob echoed. “And if I’m going to trade my time for money, I think this is one of the luckiest opportunities I have to do that.”

Meet the Staff Series #2: Learning, teaching to love biking

By: Halla Dontje Lindell, Cycles for Change Intern

Ever wondered who’s behind Cycles for Change’s Learn to Ride Program? And what is their story? Although there are many hands involved in bringing this program to the community, Anneka Kimiecik (they/them), Community Outreach and Program Associate, and Pacha Galavis (she/her), Learn to Ride and Bike Grant Program Coordinator, do much of the heavy lifting.

Anneka, who joined the Cycles for Change team this year, didn’t have a linear experience learning to ride a bicycle. They first hopped on a bike when they were six or seven, while living on an agricultural research station near Madison, WI.

“My dad taught me, but when spring came after a winter of not riding, I couldn’t remember how to ride a bicycle,” Anneka said. “I got really frustrated, and was like, ‘no, forget it!’”

However, because both their parents worked full-time, Anneka spent afternoons with the kids of a neighboring farm family. Then those kids decided to go on a bike ride.

“I didn’t want to be left behind, so I found this green bike that sort of fit me, and I said I was coming too,” Anneka recalled. “I retaught myself how to ride by gliding down [the neighboring family’s] driveway so that I could bike with all of the other kids. I continued to practice on a big hill by a machine shed, where I would see if I could bomb down it really fast and then coast all the way to my front door.”

Anneka has since upgraded from that ill-fitting, borrowed green bike, and owns a track bike, a singlespeed cross bike that they ride in the winter, and a Surly cross trek that they use for bike camping. Biking is foundational to Anneka’s lifestyle. Although they have a driver’s license and legally could drive, they’ve remarkably driven a car just three times in the past seven years. Anneka did own a car when first living in the metro area, but when it was ruined in a flood they decided to seize the opportunity to go carless.

Anneka’s primary form of transportation became city buses, with a small amount of biking mixed in. Then, in 2004, Twin Cities bus drivers went on strike for over a month. Instead of busing, Anneka started biking everyday.

“I loved it, and I never looked back,” they said. “I didn’t go back to riding the bus [after the strike ended]; I just kept biking.”

Pacha, who’s beginning her second year working at Cycles for Change, first had a bike as a kid living in North Carolina. Although her mom loved to bike, the lack of trails and roads that could safely accommodate her made rides a rare occurrence for Pacha. She later joined her dad in Minneapolis. He did not have a car and biked throughout the winter despite having a low-budget bike and no fancy equipment.

“I fell in love with biking during those years because I got to spend time with my dad and go around town” she said. “Exploring the river, woods, and the street was the best part.” She has replaced the “super heavy and horrible” bike her dad bought her from the Lake Street K-Mart with a hybrid Bianchi Grizzly, and continues to explore the city.

When reflecting on the Learn to Ride program, both Anneka and Pacha mentioned the excitement they witness in participants.

“When I started [Learn to Ride], I knew I loved to bike and I wanted to share that,” Pacha said. “But I didn’t realize how life changing it is, and how much it means to people who go to the classes.” The “overjoyed, geeked-out, ‘like a little kid’ reaction” that people have when they start pedaling gets her out of bed on Saturday mornings.

“There’s a lasting impact that I really appreciate and that makes the work fulfilling,” she says. “There are people I have connections with even when their session is finished. There’s real friendship there, and it’s not just ‘you’re my instructor and I’m your student’, but instead ‘wow, you really helped me do this and you did it with care, so therefore let’s be friends and bicyclists in this community together.’ I feel like could call them up right now and say ‘Hey, what’s up?” I’ve gotten to know people in my community, and that’s really important to me. I’m going to be around here for a while, so I should get to know my neighbors.”

“So many adults feel that they are the only adult that doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle,” Anneka said. “And then everyone comes together with different stories…but they have this goal and they’re doing it. I love that and I love the fact that the majority of Learn to Ride participants are women of color. I want to see more women and more people of color feel that they can take over the trails of Minneapolis.”

This summer, Pacha will be passing Learn to Ride leadership to Anneka so she can focus on expanding the Bike Grant Program. Anneka will bring their own wisdom and experience to the Learn to Ride Program as a long-time biker and educator, and both Anneka and Pacha will continue to serve large community needs.

 

Meet the Staff Story Series #1: Retail Reflection

Our summer intern, Halla, is doing a story series highlighting the awesome C4C staff. This is her first story in the series.

Jeff Lathrop (PGPs: he/him), Cycles for Change’s Service and Retail Manager, and Jesus Suarez Gurrola (PGPs: he/him/bro), Cycles for Change’s Retail Mechanic, didn’t get along when they started working together. Jeff didn’t like the way Jesus did things. But a lot has changed over three years of “bro-ing out” in Cycles for Change’s retail shop, where they spend about half of their time spinning wrenches and the other half interacting with customers.

Jeff, a local guy who went to St. Paul’s Central High School and studied music business at St. Paul’s McNally Smith College of Music, bought a bike during college because he needed a convenient and inexpensive way to get around. He quickly realized that his bike would fit better if he made a few adjustments, so he added riser bars and a shorter stem. He said, “If you’re interested in learning, you seek out more and more.” His interest led him to Cycles for Change, a “cool as hell” place he could go to get the tools he needed and continue tinkering.

Jesus’ adventure with bikes budded when he started riding at the age of six, but he really got into bikes while working at a shop during high school. In his hometown of Jerez, a city in the Mexican state of Zacatecas, he worked on beat-up kid bikes and learned the creativity and innovation necessary to fix bikes that have seen better days. “I kept showing up to the shop and eating their food, and they finally gave me a job,” he said. He later moved to California, and then joined his older sister in Minnesota where he attended diesel technician school and started working at Cycles for Change.

Nowadays, the two admit to being good friends. They buy each other meals, joke about their bromance, and ride together on the weekends with their co-worker Jacob (the St. Paul Shop Programs Coordinator). In fact, the two mechanics each have over 15 bicycles of their own. Jesus collects old school BMX bikes, and also rides a mountain bike and a crosstrek (and even dabbles in unicycle riding). Jeff’s broad array of bikes includes a low rider, a BMX, two fat-tire bikes, and two road bikes. Their skills are in high demand, and both mechanics are perpetually busy, so the last bikes that get worked on are their own. By having multiple bikes, they can be sure one of them is ready to grab when they want to shred the streets or trails.

Their forever curious mentality helps them to have fun at work. Jeff says, “If you put me in a dungeon with a radio and a bunch of tools and bikes, I’ll be a happy person forever.” In addition to bicycle mechanics, Jeff values the regular interactions he has with the community he lives in and works with. He appreciates the autonomy available to him as manager of the retail shop, and explains the potential and opportunity he sees within Cycles for Change’s work. “We’re growing,” he said. “It’s not without pain, but [every year] we’re doing a little better and a little bigger. I’d like to see increased organization and increased sustainability, growth of the retail shop and open shop, and access to more resources for moving forward as a community cycling center.” Jesus strives to set Cycles for Change apart from other bike shops that may come across as snobby, and makes sure to ask all customers clarifying questions so he can effectively give people the information they need.

No matter how one spins it, the expertise and care that lies within Cycles for Change’s retail staff is evident. They have the kind of knowledge one can’t get from a book, and they’re an integral part of the way Cycles for Change is tightening its spokes within the Twin Cities community. Jeff and Jesus will keep retailing, repairing, and doing the good work.

We’re hiring an AmeriCorps VISTA member!

C4C is hiring for an AmeriCorps VISTA position: Volunteer and Community Engagement Specialist. This VISTA member will be tasked with reviewing, strategizing, and developing/improving systems for volunteer tracking and management.

The AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program began in 1965 and was created by President John F. Kennedy to be a domestic counterpart to the Peace Corps. It is a national service program with a goal to eliminate poverty by placing VISTA members in organizations to build capacity through resource development and volunteer mobilization.

Learn more about AmeriCorps and the VISTA program here.

Apply to our open position here.

New Hours Begin April 3

Beginning Monday, April 3, 2017, our hours will change to accommodate a busier summer season. Check out our new hours below!

Retail – St. Paul
Tuesday: 1-8pm
Wednesday: 1-8pm
Thursday: 1-8pm
Friday: 1-6pm
Saturday: 1-6pm
Closed Sunday and Monday

Open Shop – St. Paul
Wednesday: 1-8pm
Thursday: 1-8pm
Friday: 1-6pm
Saturday: 1-6pm

Open Shop – Minneapolis
Wednesday: 4-8pm
Saturday: 1-6pm

Grease Rag
Monday: 6-8pm – Minneapolis
Tuesday: 6-8pm – St. Paul