By Davey Davis — The Bicycle Collective is changing. After spending ten years of his life running the organization and growing it to the nonprofit powerhouse it is today, Founding Director Jonathan Morrison stepped down and I was chosen to replace him. Our Salt Lake flagship community shop is running in top gear, giving bikes to those who need them at an inspiring pace, teaching mechanical skills and self-sufficiency to those already riding. Beyond our doors, the City of Salt Lake is wholeheartedly embracing the bicycle. These two factors make us proud of Salt Lake, but they also encourage us to focus farther afield, to Ogden and Provo. These shops have the potential to come into their own this year; with your support we are on course to improve the Collective’s concrete programs statewide.
Change can be scary, institutionally or personally. My first week on the job I was standing in a hot parking lot with Bill Knowles — a wise, healthy man in his 70’s who refuses to retire. “In work, in life, everything changes. You either change or you stagnate,” said Knowles. Knowles knows a thing or two about moving forward; he is well into his second career as city ombudsman for development projects like the Sugar House Streetcar, and he appears to be thriving as the city changes. I like to go with the tried and true: I ride steel bikes and consider what exists before building anew; but I find it instructive to temper my cautious perspective with his dynamism.
The fact is: what we are doing in the Salt Lake shop works wonderfully. I stepped into directing a shop with ten capable part-time employees and contractors running our programs at full speed. Last year Earn-A-Bike taught 245 children the confidence that comes with mechanical knowledge, and nearly 100 children went on their first rides in our beautiful mountains with Trips for Kids. We gave 923 bikes away to genuinely needy citizens through over 40 community partnerships. Our valet service parked 10000 bikes and gave a face to cycling at a joyous community level. We worked with 669 unique volunteers in the past year, and had over 1700 bikes donated to support our mission. All these programs radiate out of the Community Shop — the heart of the institution — where people donate their old bikes, learn how to build new ones, and set the skills, resources, and knowledge in motion to keep this wheel turning. We want to continue to bring our bikes —and the connections, strengths, and whimsy that come with them— to Salt Lake City. These programs are established and flourishing in Salt Lake, we are eager to emulate them in our newer locations.
What We’re Building
The Ogden Collective is primed to expand its programs, to move from a budding shop to the established multi-faceted presence our flagship is today. We are seizing a tremendous opportunity: the chance to buy a beautiful industrial building for pennies on the dollar to be the permanent home of our Ogden shop. This summer we’re launching the initial capital campaign to own the building outright, at this point we’re hoping to raise $13,000 to make this a reality. This will be the first building the Bicycle Collective has owned and will ensure a legacy of cycling programs in the region. With an established space and the participation of the community, Ogden can move ahead with an eye on the blueprint Salt Lake has provided us.
We are primed to impart the institutional knowledge learned in Salt Lake to the other branches thanks to the tools Jonathan Morrison had the foresight to leave us with. He meticulously documented the growth of the organization and initiated every program with an eye on how it could scale. The resulting institutional memory allows us to easily move forward regardless of how developed the Collective is in the location in question. Ogden’s shop is already a functioning, vibrant entity, while the Provo shop is younger and faces the challenges of establishing itself as a new presence. It is time to give them more support.
What We Need
This kind of growth takes administrative attention, which I would like to give personally in my tenure as Executive Director. With this goal in mind we’ve begun raising funds to hire a Director of Operations for the Salt Lake Community Bike Shop, to allow me to do more on a statewide level while keeping our programs in Salt Lake efficient. If you like what the Bicycle Collective does, and want to see more of it outside the capital, now is a great time to support us, with donated bikes or donated dollars. We can use volunteers of all skills sets, from painters and carpenters to graphic designers; we can put you to work expanding our offices, running bike drives or introducing our work to new people. We would love to see you, either buying a bike or working on your own at the Open Shop, at the Bike Valet at the Twilight Concert Series and many other events, or around town at our rides, parties, and screenings. Your donated time and resources would supplement our shop income in Salt Lake and boost the budget for our building in Ogden, allowing us to realize these goals and improve the cycling environment across the state.
You can donate online at bicyclecollective.org, simply click the ‘Donate’ button on the homepage. If you’d like to allocate your donation specifically for Ogden’s new building, navigate to the Ogden location’s page on our website (or type in ogdenbikecollective.org) and click the donate link found there.
To volunteer, call us at 801-FAT-BIKE or email us at [email protected] and we’ll connect you with the location of your choosing.