Transportation Justice Alliance (Part 1)

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By Katie Steele, Advocacy Intern

When jumping into Portland’s transportation advocacy scene, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of faces, acronyms, and agendas.  It’s harder still to tease apart where these organizations lie in relation to one another, from the grassroots to the grasstops and even on to direct legislative involvement.  When you hear “Community Cycling Center”, you might think of their full service bike shop, their earn-a-bike programs, or their volunteer training program, huge community outreach mainstays for this small but extremely active organization.  Though these things are crucially important, to examine them only scratches the surface of the long-term advocacy initiatives being put into place by volunteers, employees, and specifically CEO Mychal Tetteh, who not only heads up operations at the Cycling Center but also serves as one of the founding members of the Transportation Justice Alliance (TJA).

At the beginning of the summer my knowledge of the Community Cycling Center and TJA was on par with that of many Portland citizens, which is to say I was familiar with the community outreach the Cycling Center was doing but had no idea what the TJA was or how the two were at all related.  Coming out of my sophomore year of Reed College, I was looking for a way to educate and involve myself with communities all over Portland and the work being done both on the ground and in the more intangible climate of legislative reform.  I found all of that and a great deal more in working with Mychal, shadowing him at TJA meetings, Cycling Center functions, and more to get an up close, explorative insight on his day to day work and his long term plans to advocate for the transportation rights of low-income citizens of Portland.

As I dig deeper into this landscape, my end goal is to produce a series of blog posts detailing my explorations, in hopes of taking a larger audience with me on this behind-the-scenes look at the advocacy work being done by both the Cycling Center and TJA.  When it comes to long-term community outreach in Portland, whether it be at the grassroots or the grasstops, visibility and awareness are crucial, and that’s exactly what I hope to spark with this series.

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