WE READY! WE COMING! WE READY! WE COMING! This was the chant that could be heard echoing across the Quad at Macalester College during this year’s Youth Bike Summit. Held over Memorial Day weekend seven NBW youth and four staff traveled to St. Paul to connect with youth cycling organizations from around the country.
Youth workers, activists, organizers, educators, and presenters all converged on the city of St. Paul to attend this whirlwind of an event. During the Summit youth and adults led over 30 workshops, lectures, and discussions on cycling-related subjects, ranging from teaching bicycle mechanics across language-barriers to turning bike parts into art and jewelry. Another workshop dissected how bicycling organizations can become more accessible to people who have different abilities. One workshop offered participants ideas on how youth cycling organizations can resist the mass incarceration of youth and people of color. Several other panels encouraged and coached individuals to develop their entrepreneurial and fundraising ideas.
Beyond workshops, the Summit featured an Open Mic Night, live musical performances, a “Slow Roll Ride” through the Twin Cities, and inspiring keynote speakers.
The NBW team was prepared for challenges along the annual Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby route, and the challenges came thick on Derby Day.
For one, the forecast called for heavy rain. We brought ponchos and went anyway. The Derby parade route was the longest yet, taking over three hours to complete. We paraded anyway. There were obstacles on the course – slippery, soapy bubbles; unforgiving and unpredictably sloped wooden blocks; and a mud pit where a throng of onlookers would cheer and jeer as we rode through. We pedaled through them all.
The real challenge for the team of NBW youth, staff and volunteers that built and powered NBW’s kinetic sculpture was a wobbly front wheel. Early in the three-hour course the wheel turned from wobbling (out of true) to a very flat tire. In order to stay in the parade, the team pulled over and used its mechanical savvy to replace the tube within the three minute timeframe the course marshals allowed. We did it! We lifted the sculpture, removed the wheel, removed the tire, replaced the tube, and reassembled it all back on our Dragon sculpture in under three minutes.
Photo by Bob Burton, The Spirit of the Riverwards
*Tuesday, May 10, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*
Contact: Dena Driscoll, Development Manager
Philadelphia, PA – After several months of planning and interviews Neighborhood Bike Works (NBW) is excited to announce it has selected Stephen Maluk as its new Executive Director. Maluk started his new position May 2.
Maluk grew up in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts, and has lived in the Pacific Northwest for the past 20 years. In that time, he discovered bicycling and realized that while he loved bike culture, he also had a desire to help bring diverse voices and inclusivity to the bike community. Maluk worked for the last six years at Bike Works in Seattle (no formal relation to NBW), a nonprofit youth-serving bike organization and host of the 2015 Youth Bike Summit. Steve served as Bike Works’ Shop & Operations Director, overseeing their earned-revenue bike shop and bike-recycling program. He has also worked as a bike mechanic and an alternative transportation planner. In June he was have completed an MBA in sustainable business from Pinchot University in Seattle.
Maluk shares “I’m incredibly excited to be joining Neighborhood Bike Works and am inspired by the organization’s clarity of vision around bicycling, youth development, and social justice.”
Everyone knows that getting a job is the first step to earning a paycheck and getting a promotion, but figuring out how to land a job as a Philly teen is akin to deciphering a foreign language without a textbook.
It’s hard. It’s hard because employers put interviewees on the spot and ask tough, personal questions. It's also hard because most teenagers don’t know what to expect from the interview process. How long is an interview? What will they ask? What if you have a family commitment scheduled during your first months on the new job?
One of the purposes of NBW’s Leadership and Advanced Mechanics Course (LAMC) is to act as a textbook – to demystify the hiring process and to let young people practice interview skills. Last week, we invited five individuals who work in the bike industry to share stories about how they got their jobs and what those jobs entail. Students were able to learn from a group that included bike mechanics, bike advocacy coordinators, and everything in between. Representatives from Indego, Advanced Sports International (maker of Fuji Bikes), Trophy Bikes, and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia participated.
Amir asked the panelists, “How did you get the job you currently have?” while JJ followed up with, “What skills or experiences do you need to succeed in your job?”
Panelists responses varied widely, and included technical skills like what students learn in Earn-A-Bike, in addition to qualities such as a willingness to learn and ability to troubleshoot. From Waffiyah, Safe Routes Philly Coordinator at the Bicycle Coalition: “staying organized is key. Google Drive is my best friend.” Students laughed along as Mike, owner of Trophy Bikes, acted out selling a bike and reminded everyone, “no one has ever died selling a bike. You are doing a good deed!”
Before 2015 came to a close, Neighborhood Bike Works youth graduates tightened the final bolts on a total of 275 brand new Huffy children's bikes. The bikes, shiny streamers and all, were distributed to local shelters and community projects as part of our annual CH2M Hill Winter Bike Build. This was our ninth year running this project, and this year we made a few healthy tweaks to make the program a better learning opportunity and more fun.
Each year, CH2M Hill has raised the funds to allow us to hire NBW teen graduates to build the bikes. Because the Winter Bike Build is a paid opportunity for NBW youth, we built in a few lessons about personal finance. NBW staff and the young mechanics discussed using check cashing centers vs. banks or credit unions, basic budgeting techniques, and how to anticipate net pay. Financial literacy hasn't always been part of our curriculum, but as we've created more opportunities for youth to earn money at NBW, we've also added these kinds of practical life skills sessions.
Another exciting tweak to this year's program was that we asked the teens to choose someone they know personally who would appreciate a bike, and then challenged them to refurbish one just for them. This new pay it forward opportunity brought forth some truly overjoyed family members, and proud mechanics too. We loved to watch 17-year old Desiree give her younger brother his very first bike at the final Bike Build ceremony.
We've created a resource for youth to find jobs, internships, and other personal development opportunities. Click the link above!
Our monthly Adult Repair Class covers basic bike repair and maintenance. The class meets four Mondays in a row and registration is open!