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.
Keynote speakers shared their experiences working for safer streets and designing welcoming public spaces. Several of their stories even mirrored those of attendees since two young speakers got their start with youth bike organizations. Those young speakers’ advocacy has resulted in a $2.3 million grant for better bike infrastructure in Santa Ana, CA.
Neighborhood Bike Works showed up at the Summit in full force. In a packed room, NBW’s Youth Council delivered a presentation in which they walked the audience through the process of creating and maintaining a youth council. They also shared their bold vision for creating a national network of youth councils. The network will serve to develop fledgling councils and share ideas on how to support youth leadership in and outside of cycling organizations. In the coming months, they’ll be recruiting many of the summit’s attendees to serve as inaugural members.