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!

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.

Statement on Supreme Court Ruling

 

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to uphold a ban on Muslims entering the United States. We at Cycles for Change are heartbroken and disappointed in this fear-centric and racist decision made by the leaders of this country. We wholeheartedly support our Muslim community members in Minneapolis and St. Paul and will continue to strive for inclusivity in all we do.

This has been a trying week. Things hurt right now, but we open our hearts and spaces to you here at Cycles for Change. Stop by the shops, share in community with us, and know you are welcome here.

July 3 and July 4 Hours

Please note:

July 3 hours
– C4C Minneapolis – normal hours
– C4C St. Paul – Retail closing at 5pm, no Grease Rag

July 4 hours
– C4C Minneapolis – Closed, no Retail and no Open Shop
– C4C St. Paul – Closed, no Retail and no Open Shop

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Bike-a-Thon!

Together we raised over $8,500 for Cycles for Change and over $3,000 for West Side Community Organization (WSCO) in the 2018 Cycles for Change Bike-a-Thon! We are grateful for the generous support of our communities.

Didn’t get a chance to donate? There’s still time! Donate now: http://tinyurl.com/2018c4cbat

Announcing our New Executive Director!

Cycles for Change is pleased to announce our new Executive Director: Tina Cho!

 

“After working with Cycles for Change in various capacities, I am absolutely elated and honored to join the team as Executive Director,” Tina said. “From the Yellow Bike Project to the Youth Apprenticeship program, Cycles for Change has left a lasting, positive impact on the Twin Cities. I’m looking forward to creating a bright future alongside all the dedicated people who make Cycles for Change possible.”

Tina (she/her/hers) is a queer Korean-American who has called Minneapolis home since 2004, when a rowing scholarship brought her to the University of Minnesota. With a background in Kinesiology & Coaching Pedagogy, she has spent (nearly) her entire working career in the nonprofit sector. From starting Minnesota’s first youth-only rowing organization to creating community programs at Nice Ride MN, Tina believes that real change starts locally, with our own communities and neighbors. With her charming wit and humorous grin, Tina works tirelessly to create equity and access in our community, one bike at a time. During the summers, the best place to find Tina outside the office is probably on a bike or in a hammock by the lakes, alongside her partner Anna Min, a renowned local photographer.

Board Chair Andrew Petriuusi is excited about the new leadership at Cycles for Change. “I am personally inspired by Tina’s enthusiasm, energy, and people-focused mindset,” he said. “I have confidence that she will be able to leverage her experience and skill set to lead Cycles for Change as it stands now, and I believe that through her vision and passion she will be able to support the organization as it develops in the future.”

A note from our outgoing ED Jason Partridge: “It’s been an honor and a privilege to be a part of Cycles for Change for these last 12 years. I’m so excited for the energy, passion, vision, and community connections that Tina Cho will bring to C4C as the incoming Executive Director. Tina is an incredible leader, visionary, and bicycle advocate who will help lead C4C into the next phase of success. The organization is in strong and capable hands with Tina at the helm.”

Congrats to our Graduating Apprentices!

Cycles for Change is honored to have worked with many brilliant young people over the years. This spring, we have several of our long-time rockstar apprentices graduating from high school. A few of them have nailed down their fall plans and wanted to share them!

Cheng Yang: Cheng will be attending Dougherty College, with plans to transfer to St. Thomas to major in Social Work.

Liliana Martinez: Liliana will be attending St. Paul College, with plans to transfer to a 4-year institution. Liliana is considering a major in Social Work.

Angelica Tonge: Angelica has been at Cycles for Change for 4 years and likes to get her hands dirty. She is researching automotive programs and plans to specialize in collisions.