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.

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.

***

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!

July/August Community Artist Now Showing in Minneapolis

 

Our next community artist on display at our Minneapolis shop is Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra aka Lady Xok (enrolled Maya-Lenca Nation, El Salvador).

About the artist:

Rebekah is an emerging Indigenous interdisciplinary/anti-disciplinary artist and musician. She writes and performs music as Lady Xok and is currently recording an EP to be released this fall. Rebekah co-founded Electric Machete Studios, a Twin Cities Latinx Art and Music collective production house. She will be performing with the Our Space Is Spoken For public art performances later this summer led by Twin Cities Media Alliance located in the same building as Cycles for Change (Minneapolis). She never quite learned how to ride a bike in Canarsie, Brooklyn, New York, and admires thxse who do so radically.

Follow her on Instagram @ladyxok, Facebook @rebekahcristanta or at www.rebekahcrisanta.com.

 

Artist statement:

“This is a short series of four mixed media monoprints I created uniquely for Cycles for Change. Here, I am experimenting gesturally with watercolor and screen-printing techniques while thinking about abstraction, color, and elements mused on by the biker’s journey. My grandfather owned a Schwinn bike shop and his son inherited his passion for collecting and fixing bikes. Weekends of my own childhood were spent cruising alley dumpsters on Long Island. When I think of biking now, I still envision heaps of rusted parts, abstracted into sculpture, discarded, reclaimed, and full of potential for a healthier Mother Earth and a better humanity.”

All prints displayed at the C4C-Minneapolis shop are for sale.

Slow Roll St. Paul June Ride Recap

There are community gardens tucked into the the corners of Frogtown; there are new bike lanes popping up on the East Side. St. Paul is full of hidden treasures that are often missed while driving in a car. Move Minnesota and Cycles for Change are partnering to help residents discover what’s great about St. Paul by hosting six Slow Roll St. Paul community bike rides in the summer of 2018.

Slow Roll is a movement that was started in Detroit. It aims to be an all-inclusive bike ride that highlights the vibrancy of major cities. Slow Roll was started in St. Paul in 2017, with a goal of bringing people together through biweekly community bicycle rides. Slow Roll St. Paul creates community spaces that uplift the people reflected in St. Paul neighborhoods; incorporates the arts and cultures of Black, Indigenous, and people of color; and collaborates with bike organizations, non-bike organizations, and local businesses.

 

So, how do bikes bring people together? How can investing in bicycling become investing in your community?

At the first Slow Roll St. Paul ride of the 2018 season on June 13, bikes and bikers gathered in the Fellowship Church parking lot in Frogtown. One rider noticed the large group slowly amassing, and walked over with his bike: “I live across the street from here,” he said.

Another was notified of the ride on social media: “I follow Frogtown Farm on Facebook and they posted about the ride,” he said. “I live in South Como and used to work at Mississippi Market so I know this area well.”

At 6:00pm, 35 riders took off to tour the neighborhood atop two wheels, making stops at Golden Thyme Cafe, Frogtown Farm, and Model Cities. The 5-mile ride took riders north to south, over I-94, through Rondo, and along a hidden neighborhood park path. Riders stopped at Golden Thyme Cafe and owner Stephanie Wright talked about the importance of supporting people of color-owned businesses and local businesses. Frogtown Farm Communication and Development specialist Shelby Rutzick greeted riders as they pedaled up the hill to the top of the farm and talked about the importance of providing neighborhood-grown food to residents of Frogtown. Model Cities Director of Community Kizzie Downie welcomed riders inside the new Brownstone building in St. Paul after the ride for food and conversation. Kizzie gave tours of the Reading Room, which highlights the history and stories of Black railroad workers in St. Paul.

Just two weeks later, a similar scene was set at the Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center on the East Side, a local space that provides programming promoting the practice of holistic well-being through indigenous arts, culture, and tradition. Riders were joined by a special guest on this ride–Sylvia Fowles of the Minnesota Lynx! Sylvia, the WNBA’s 2017 Most Valuable Player and an avid bicyclist, donated part of her MVP award to Cycles for Change last fall, and has continued her generosity into this year by giving bicycles to seven Cycles for Change youth apprentices and joining us for a Slow Roll St. Paul ride.

49 people came ready to roll slow, and after a warm kick-off from Indigenous Roots’ co-founder and co-director Mary Anne Quiroz, the group set off through the neighborhood, riding by parks and community hubs such as the East Side Freedom Library, Hmong Village, and Duluth Case Rec Center. The evening wrapped up inside Indigenous Roots’ dance room, with riders huddled over pupusas, listening to representatives from the cultural arts center speak to the importance of voting and standing by your neighbors, followed by music for the more intrepid to dance to.

The first rides of the season not only showed off businesses and organizations important to the Frogtown, Rondo, and East Side communities, but also showed riders how easily accessible these places are by bicycle. The neighborhoods feel different when traversed by bicycle; neighbors waved and little kids yelled hi. Houses seemed to have more details, potholes in the road were easily noticed, and cottonwood floated in the air while glinting rays of the setting sun. Think all of that would be noticed while driving in a car? It can be a shock at first to take in all of these differences–especially in areas where hearing engines and horns are the norm. But it’s a welcome change to hear 50 bikes clicking and whirring all at once, music playing in the distance, and neighbors chatting and laughing.

Ready to join us for our next ride? On Wednesday, July 11, Slow Roll St. Paul’s Frogtown/Rondo ride will begin at Pilgrim Garden. The ride will highlight community gardens in the neighborhood, as well as make a stop at Rondo Plaza. Gather 5:30pm, depart 6:00pm, return 7:00pm with food to follow.

What is Open Shop?

 

“Welcome to Open Shop! What brings you in today?”  

Community Open Shop is one of our core programs at Cycles for Change. Open Shop is a space where anyone can get help repairing a bicycle they bring with them. We have tools, advice/instruction from professional mechanics, – and replacement parts available. At Cycles for Change, our Open Shops are structured around a few key principles:

– Participants should expect to do their own repairs. Staff will use a “hands off” teaching style. This means we will show you how to do the repair, but you will do it yourself.  

– Open Shop exists to make having a safe and well-functioning bicycle accessible to all. Open shop is especially important for those who cannot afford to pay for bicycle repair and those who would like to learn to do some of their own bicycle repairs but do not have access to tools or a safe space for learning.

– It is essential to C4C that Open Shop functions as a safe space where everyone feels comfortable bringing their bike and their identities. We do not tolerate any comments or behavior that discriminates or oppresses based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, or other identities.

– Open Shop operates on a sliding scale $2-20 fee per visit to help support the program. However, we will not turn anyone away for inability to pay.  

– Pay it forward! If you would like to support our Open Shop program with a monetary donation to help make bike repair accessible to all, you can donate here.

Please refer to our website for the current Open Shop schedule at both of our locations, and to learn about Grease Rag (Femme, Trans, Women, Non-Binary, Two-Spirit-only Open Shop) which is hosted at Cycles for Change weekly.

Short on time or patience? Get a free estimate for paid repairs from our service department.