Cultural competence at the Community Cycling Center: an introduction to our Equity Committee

By Britt Appleton, Social Media Specialist

Community Cycling CenterIn September 2010, the Community Cycling Center participated in an equity audit by the Center for Diversity and the Environment. Its purpose was to determine how well we were relating on issues of racial and ethnic equity, diversity, and inclusion. The audit helped us identify areas to improve: increasing cultural competence and the diversity of our staff and board, hiring practices, culture building, physical space design, solidifying our message, and strengthening our partnerships. Inspired by the audit, we established an Equity Committee, led by our Adult Programs Manager, Zan Gibbs, who has a lot of experience with diversity committees and cultural competence training. The Equity Committee set three goals for 2011: provide cultural competency training for our staff, remodel the shop space with an equity lens, and build stronger outside relationships with our community partners.

Trainings facilitated by the Equity Committee this year covered three different frameworks: 1) diversity understanding and inclusion, 2) common language and interrupting strategies, and 3) gender expression and sexual orientation terminology and ally tips. These trainings were administered at staff meetings with the goal that we would increase the overall staff cultural competency. Zan considers these trainings very effective, especially the Interrupting Oppressive Language training. Several staff reported that this training gave them new tools which enabled them to provide effective interruptions. The Community Cycling Center was recognized this year for promoting diversity and inclusion. Most recently, the Women’s Transportation Seminar presented us with the 2012 Diversity Leadership award.

In February 2011, we remodeled our bike shop. We focused on creating a friendlier and more welcoming space, while increasing the visibility of our community programs, creating bilingual shop signage, and promoting our I ride campaign, featuring images of our program participants from New Columbia and Hacienda CDC. We also rewrote our job hiring protocol to help create a more equitable hiring process. In the months leading up to our seasonal hiring, the General Manager of our bike shop, Jonnie Ling, was mentored by an expert in the field of equitable recruitment. They worked together to develop a strategy for outreach. Jonnie extended the timeline for the hiring process, recruited through our community partners, and emphasized personal communication instead of email. “In order to create a more diverse group, you have to have relationships with diverse groups,” said Anne Lee, Deputy Director. “You can’t expect that putting out a job post will do it. You have to be more proactive.”

In 2010, we established the Equity in Active Transportation group, coordinating multi-agency programs and outreach at New Columbia and Hacienda CDC. In 2011, we helped facilitate bike advocacy groups at both organizations, We All Can Ride at New Columbia, and Andando en Bicicletas en Cully at Hacienda, which are empowering local residents to positions of leadership within their communities, while promoting active transportation and healthy living.

We are now focusing on our goals for 2012. Executive Director, Alison Graves, and board chair, Kathryn Sofich, have been working to develop a culture that is inclusive of diverse approaches and thinking in order to create a stronger and healthier organization. We have made some good progress, adding Olivia Quiroz, an emerging leader who also brings a strong background in community health, to our board.

We have fundamentally changed the way we work by shifting from a direct service organization (simply giving away bikes) to a community change organization, where we are working collaboratively with communities to identify their needs and concerns as it relates to bicycles. Stay tuned for some exciting updates on our progress with both New Columbia and Hacienda CDC.

Photos by Nickey Robare, Shannon McWeeney, and Zan Gibbs

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Hours: 10am-6pm daily (fall/winter)Bike Shop Address: 1700 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211

Phone: 503.287.8786Office/Mailing Address: 1805 NE 2nd Ave, Portland, OR 97212