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    Bike!Bike! Southeast 2017

    This past weekend Sophie and Brian took a trip to Alexandria, BA for Bike!Bike! Southeast a “conference” of community bike projects. Bike!Bike! serves as a way for a wide variety of groups that use bikes to make a social impact to engage with one another, learn, and share.  This was Commonwheels’ second time going to Bike!Bike! as, our former Program Manager, Chelsea traveled to Richmond, VA last year. Additionally, one of our volunteers Allister surprised us there as well wearing two hats, Commonwheels and Bike House, DC.  


    Although this is labelled the Southeast Regional Bike!Bike!, we had participants from all over including Baton Rouge, LA and St. Paul, MN, (and us! making the trip down from the Northeast!). Throughout the weekend we participated in workshops on various topics such as youth programming, bridging language barriers, and strategic planning.


    The weekend wasn’t all meetings, we also had plenty of riding! Our hosts Velocity Bike Co-op were kind enough to lend all the out of town attendees. We had rides around the neighborhood to visit Velocity’s shop and warehouse locations and into DC to see the sights, visit another community bike shop Gearin’ Up Bicycles and join up with the Women/Trans/Femme Alleycat Rolling Resistance which was taking place (Sophie participated and won a backpack!).


    We’re both excited to bring back what we learned to make Commonwheels even better! Big thanks to all those who came to the conference and shared their knowledge, experience and passion with us, especially Watch City Bike Lab from just down the street in Waltham!



    Commonwheels Annual Fundraising Gala

    This Saturday was a busy day for Commonwheels. In the morning we hosted a volunteer day in Union Square, Allston in partnership with Jenae, a longtime Commonwheels volunteer. We handed out bike lights to passing riders and shoveled out bike racks, bus stops and crosswalks.

    After the volunteer day we transitioned to an open at Zone 3. We helped clean bikes that had seen a harsh winter, put on bike racks, and all the usual fixes and adjustments. During the open shop, our board members and volunteers were setting up for our annual fundraising gala which had been hastily rescheduled due to snow.  The gala kicked off our spring season with music, food, beer and an all-around good time. We were excited to announce our Volunteer of the Year, Dave Robbins!

    We are so lucky to be in a supportive community and are excited to continue old and new projects designed to help keep people riding all year round.

    Special thanks goes to many generous community donations including: Garlic 'n Lemons, Zone 3 "a Harvard sparked initiative," The Incomparable Liam Neesons, Mix Master Mully and WMBR Cambridge Radio Station 88.1 FM, our stellar volunteer Frank for staffing the door, Aeronaut Brewery, Downeast Cider, the CommonWheels Board, and everyone who came out on a snowy night and rode in the Chaos Box. Thanks also goes out to the Raffle and Silent Auction Sponsors: Coolidge Corner Theater, Stingray Body Art, Hub Bicycle, Boston Pedicab, Newbury Comics, Clay Room Pottery, Recycle Spin Studio, and Coolidge Corner Yoga.



    Jared Magee the Physical Education Teacher at Jackson Mann School hosted a fundraise to purchase 12 new bikes for his classes his fall. Sophie visited the gym classes last week to help assemble the new bikes. Students did a great job installing the handle bars, pedals, seat posts, pumping the tires, and putting on the front wheel. They learned how to use wrenches, grease parts, and the generals of assembling a bike. And it was awesome to see their excitement after putting together their first new bike. During the class we were able to put together 7 of the 12 bikes and Mr. Magee will put together the rest with future classes.
    CommonWheels is excited to continue work with the Jackson Mann gym classes and all of the great bike programming that they are doing! It was a fun day and the first group of students greeted our program manager, Sophie, with this awesome card.

    Commonwheels' Season of Earn A Bikes Classes Begins!

    Our first session of the Women's Earn A Bike program has begun! The group meets every Tuesday and is the first of what will be six Earn A Bike classes held by Commonwheels this winter. There will be a second session of the Women's Earn A Bike Program and four community-based Earn A Bike classes for residents at Brian J Honan, Faneuil Gardens, Fidelius Way, and Brighton Allston Apartments. We are so excited to be able to offer this resource to the community with our partners at Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation and the Josephine A. Fiorentino Community Center at Charlesview.

    The classes serve as a launching point for participants to begin learning bicycle maintenance and to integrate biking into their lifestyle. In addition to mechanical skills, classes include information about traffic safety, the history of biking and bike advocacy, and discussions about biking. At the completion of the course, each participant will leave with a working bike, a helmet, a bike lock, lights, and resources on how to maintain the bike going forward.


    On November 29th, CommonWheels finished out a strong season of Open Shops and DIY Community Bike Repairs with a new community event called the Ally Skills Workshop: Combatting Sexism and Transphobia. The workshop was led by Kendra Albert and gave great information on guiding ways to intervene and support women and trans people when we notice sexism and transphobia. We broke into two groups and brainstormed ways to respond to scenarios that included examples of explicit and subtle sexism and transphobia.
    The scenarios sparked great conversation and were a great entry point for developing the skill of allyship. The hearty/committed attendees who came out despite the rain participated with lots of energy. Thank you to Doug Johnson from the Boston Cyclists Union for lending a projector and Jackson Mann Community Center for providing the space!

    Over at CommonWheels it was an exciting first event to spark some important discussion in Boston bike communities. The event was also helpful as we continue to think about and develop our efforts to create supportive and inclusive spaces for bikers. As a result of the workshop, we will start having name tags for bikers to write down their names and preferred pronouns at our Open Shops and other community programs. The name tags are one way to continue building a thoughtful environment and an opportunity for conversation and education around preferred pronouns! Please reach out to CommonWheels with any feedback, thoughts, questions about the training or ideas for building affirming spaces!
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