Getting to know: Kim Whitney, Youth Program Coordinator
Kim is the heart and soul of our youth programs. You may have seen her around town leading Bike Clubs at University Park or James John or heading a line of Bike Campers on their way to some adventure. In addition to holding a master’s degree from the Leadership for Sustainability Education program at Portland State University, she’s an accomplished seamstress, crafter, and baker. An unabashed optimist, Kim’s sunny smile is practically the only light source our office needs during the long Portland winters.
What brought you to the Community Cycling Center?
My bike of courseâ€¦how else would I get there? But really: in 2005 I had just completed a PSU capstone class called “Bicycle Barriers” taught by Scott Cohen (now of Smart Trips) that focused on why people don’t want to ride their bikes. We surveyed people in the SE Hawthorne/Cesar Chavez neighborhood and learned a lot about why people make the choice to drive rather than bike. I was inspired by the project and wanted to learn more about how I could continue to do similar work. I was researching different organizations in town and found the Community Cycling Center. They happened to be hiring for an administrative assistant at the time and I had just the strange compilation of skills that they were looking for.
Why do you work here?
I love the community programs that we offer and the energy of the bike shop. I never tire of working with the kids, the team and the curriculum. I continually feel challenged and inspired.
What is your job title? What do you do?
I am the Youth Program Coordinator. My work focuses on implementing programs that support healthy activities and increase access to bicycles and safety education for youth. In collaboration with the Program Manager, I plan and coordinate the Bike Club and Bike Camp programs. During the programs, I support our amazing instructor team.
How busy are you right now on a scale of 1-10?
11.2! Bike Camp is by far my busiest season. While I do feel super busy, it’s hard to feel overwhelmed when I see so many smiling faces and hear about the amazing rides that the campers and instructors are enjoying.
What aspect of our work do you find most exciting right now?
I’m really excited about the shift toward creating a more family focused curriculum. At the end of the Bike Club program at University Park this spring, I was so excited that every single parent and guardian showed up to applaud the efforts of the ten graduates. I like to see families enjoying bike adventures together.
What do you do when you’re not here?
My primary interests outside of work right now are cooking and gardening. On the weekends I’ve been battling the invasive weeds in my backyard, which makes me think a lot about poor Sisyphus. Otherwise, I’ve been spending lots of time enjoying new recipes from the two cooking blogs that I love to read.
What would the title of your biopic be? Who would play you?
Wow, this is a really tough question. I think it would be called “Ping!” and instead of an actor, I would like to see myself rendered as a claymation banana slug or maybe a tide pool creature, a sea urchin or a sea cucumber.
Tell us a Bike Camp story from this summer.
A few Fridays ago I enjoyed an afternoon ride with the Coasters camp. They were such an awesome group. After a break at Mio Gelato, we tackled the 17th street hill, known affectionately as “Mt. Doom.” The group pulled over to the side of the road a block before and huddled to get prepped for the adventure ahead. After a quick cheer and refueling with lots of water, they were off. It was amazing to see the entire group daringly make their way up the hill. Some rode the entire way up, some rode part of the way and walked the rest, but each camper worked their way up the hill with their bikes without stopping and with smiles on their faces! Once we all made it up we celebrated our accomplishment with cheers, sprays of cool water, and some of us took a quick rest in the grass. These moments are the source of my inspiration to continue to do the work and to help people get on their bikes.