Low’s Recap- 2015 National Forum On Women Biking

By : Lowrah · March 12, 2015

A summary of the workshops I attended is at the bottom of this post.

Don’t miss out on the Tina Report!

I attended the 2015 National Forum on Women Biking this year in Washington DC.

Getting To DC

I applied for a scholarship. I was told I didn't get one at first, but someone dropped out! The stars aligned, allowing me to attend the Forum. To ice the cake, the Women Bike's Forum organizer, Liz Cornish Jones, invited me to participate on a panel, "Advocacy Through A Gender Lens." I was feeling so fortunate that I was able to leverage my position to ask Liz about bringing a non-cis Grease Rag Friend to the panel with me. Liz gave me the green light, I put the call out, and Super Volunteer Tina responded! Ginny set up a fundraiser and we raised $900 ($350 over our goal of $550) in less than 24 hours. Bam.

After the trip, the remainder of funds was donated to Grease Rag’s general fund. ($$ Report)

Trans* Voices are Important- Team Action

Due to a miscommunication of great magnitude Tina did not end up getting a spot on the panel. We communicated with Liz who apologized, and gave us the opportunity to organize something at the Forum next year. We still wanted to have Tina up on stage, but we will gladly take that opportunity.

Although it was not intended to be exclusionary, the impact of Tina not being able to participate on the panel was a feeling that there was no place for trans* voices at the Forum. But we didn't just plan on crying into our oatmeal. We took action.

I emailed the Grease Rag Google Group asking for ideas on how to honor Tina's important role in our organization, even if she wouldn't be speaking on the panel. Tina is a pillar of our Grease Rag community.  Everyone knows Tina.  Everyone groans/ laughs at her jokes.  If you ever go to SPOKES Grease Rag open shop, a Full Moon Ride, or any party or event we have, Tina is there, greeting you, bringing cookies, making everyone feel welcome, and probably volunteered to make it happen.

JJ and Rachel responded to my email with some ideas.  Write a letter from Grease Rag demanding trans* voices be heard!  Make flyers and connect with others that feel the same way!  From there, the team organized and everyone pitched in.  Amanda wrote a letter demanding trans* voices be honored and heard during the event, Karl made "I use _______ gender pronouns" stickers that we could stick on our name badges and printed a chart of examples of gender pronouns, Tina and I edited language that Kat, Lauren, and Meggan had adapted for a safer spaces flyer at Babes in Bikeland last year.  Holly stayed up late with me to create and print a flyer which combined Kelli Denoyer's original art into a safer spaces flyer.  Teamwork!

After a late-night copy run and an early morning dash to the airport, Tina and I made it. Our first time in DC!  WTF materials in hand, Tina and I arrived ready to learn.  Ready to listen.  Ready to represent.  Ready to BE RAD.

Our Goals For The Forum

  • Talk about trans* voices having value
  • Connect with folks that self identify as non-cis WTFs to organize an event next year
  • Be radical in thought, speech, and action about trans* inclusion in safer spaces

The fact that you, Grease Rag donors, enabled us to take this trip, imbued Tina and I with so much pride and responsibility. We felt like official delegates, sent to spread the Grease Rag message of friendship, safer spaces, and inclusion! To honor your contribution and trust we pledged the following.

  • Enjoy ourselves
  • Be grateful
  • Take full advantage of this opportunity
  • Represent you and Grease Rag with our kindness, friendliness, and passion
  • Check in with each other and support each other
  • Write a summary of our experiences
  • Educate as many people as possible with our safer spaces flyers
  • Educate about gender pronouns with our "I use _____ gender pronouns" stickers
  • Deliver a Grease Rag letter demanding a place for trans* voices at future forums
  • Speak plainly, radically, and truthfully about WTF inclusion at the panel
  • Hold an event after the forum, with the purpose of sharing what we learned and plotting for next year

Through lots of one on one conversations, the lunchtime panel discussion (We had the attention of the entire Forum, about 350 people!  Thanks, Liz!), and 50 stickers and 100 flyers... We did you proud.

Here are some impressions from our trip.

Washington DC

  • Everything here is named after white men
  • People really love their suits and ties, suits and ties
  • Even during rush hour the Metro wasn’t overly crowded
  • Where do bikes fit on the Metro?  I didn’t see any.
  • I was intimidated and didn’t end up biking at all while there
  • I loved the brick and stone everywhere
  • The National Capitol dome was covered in construction scaffolding- reminded me of home!
  • I was lucky enough to share a hotel room with Grease Rag friend Bri (Dero Bike Racks)- Thanks Bri!

Wheelwomen Switchboard Happy Hour Networking Event

  • There were a lot of men at this event for “women-identified” people, which was disappointing.  Find your own party.
  • It was so crowded!  I don’t think they expected so many people to show up!
  • I had a few conversations with people that reminded me that some folks aren’t “there yet” regarding WTF gender-inclusion.  It was a great reminder before my panel the next day that some people are newer to the issue. (And that is okay.)
  • I had a great conversation with Casey from WE Bike NYC, and it sounds like they have so much in common with Grease Rag!
  • Tina was a social butterfly!  I got tired after a few hours and was happy to leave and go to a quiet room.

I’ve included the Forum agenda at the bottom of this post.

A Case Study in Leadership: How Mentorship and Bold Leadership is growing the mission of Tulsa Hub

I was inspired by this talk, considering it combined two things I love most: Foundational tools for organizations, and a strong partnership between two business partners, founded with admiration and respect.  The key to this talk was that the speakers, Barbara Bannon and Ren Barger, were very honest about their shortcomings which allowed them to work through them, and that they were proud to name their strengths.  A very inspiring model!

Building Powerful Networks to Advance Your Career

I only stayed for the first part of this talk, because I didn't feel like I was getting enough out of it.  It seems like the "Roberta Moses Happy Hour" should make an appearance in the Twin Cities though!

The Future of the Women’s Market: Product and Marketing Plans from the Industry

Grease Rag will be hosting a conversation with our retail partners in a few weeks, so I wanted to attend this session (I only attended the second half) to gain some perspective on what retailers are being told about "how women engage with products."  Presented by marketers for marketers.

Women Ride: New Numbers

This was a short segment.  Numbers numbers numbers.  It was sort of like a teaser, because they didn't go into any depth.

Advocacy Through A Gender Lens

When we advocate for bicycling through a gender lens, does it lead to big ideas or does it limit our thinking? Hear from women working to get more women on bikes on how and when to use gender to amplify your advocacy efforts.

  • Barb Chamberlain, Washington Bikes
  • Laura Kling, Grease Rag
  • Rio-Jill Contreras, Multicultural Communities for Mobility
  • Maryann Aguirre, Ovarian Psyco-Cycles
  • Odessa Phillip, Women's Transportation Seminar Board Member; Assedo Consulting, President; Howard University Instructor

Liz, the organizer, shrewdly put this short panel during lunch, so we had the entire Forum in front of us- a totally captive audience of about 350 people!  It has been my dream to work with the Ovarian Psyco-Cycles since I first met them at the Women's Bike Summit in LBC three years ago.  And I got to meet Twitter friend/ moderator Barb!  It was a great group.

My palms were really sweaty.  My voice cracked a little when I got very passionate about a point I was making about WTF inclusivity and safer spaces.  I got to shout out to Tina in the crowd, and used my microphone to ask for people who identify as trans* or WTF to get at me if they would like to organize an event around trans* voices next year, and found some friendly faces in the crowd.  Green light, all the way.

Difference between Input and Decision Making: Empowering New Voices to Lead the Movement

For my work as a community organizer with the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, I put a lot of thought into bike lanes as healthy infrastructure, and bike lanes as a gentrifying force.  This presentation on engaging the community and asking people what they wanted in their neighborhood really spoke (hah!) to me.  My most favorite part was when when they said, "Find the organizers in that neighborhood.  They are already doing the work."  It reminded me that we are ALL organizers.  Church lunch, potluck, family vacations, roommate yardwork schedule, union, neighborhood associations... we all have that power.

Our Biking Connections

Most people I talked to cried during this speech.  I just had a little dust in my eye.  Beautiful sentiments about the power of nature to heal us and help us process grief, with the founder of Outdoor Afro.

Keep your eyes peeled for an event!  We will report back what we learned, and organize for next year!

With gratitude,

Low

Full Agenda

Monday, March, 9

Wheelwomen Switchboard Happy Hour + Tea Society (Tina and Low attended!
A networking event for woman-identified advocates, organized by the Wheelwomen Switchboard.

Tuesday, March 10

Opening Plenary

(Tina and Low attended!)
A Case Study in Leadership: How Mentorship and Bold Leadership is growing the mission of Tulsa Hub
Ren Barger, Tulsa Hub CEO
Barbara Bannon, Tulsa Hub Board Immediate Past President, President of Human Resource Investments

Workshop: Discovering Heart Leadership (Tina attended!)

Workshop: Building Powerful Networks to Advance Your Career (Low attended the first ½)

Workshop: The Future of the Women’s Market: Product and Marketing Plans from the Industry (Low attended the second ½)

Lunchtime Panel Discussions

Women Ride: New Numbers (Tina and Low attended!)

Advocacy Through A Gender Lens (Tina attended, Low was on the panel)
When we advocate for bicycling through a gender lens, does it lead to big ideas or does it limit our thinking? Hear from women working to get more women on bikes on how and when to use gender to amplify your advocacy efforts.

Barb Chamberlain, Washington Bikes
Laura Kling, Grease Rag
Rio-Jill Contreras, Multicultural Communities for Mobility
Maryann Aguirre, Ovarian Psyco-Cycles
Odessa Phillip, Women's Transportation Seminar Board Member; Assedo Consulting, President; Howard University Instructor

Workshop: We’re All Advocates: Stories of Change from Inside the Peloton

Workshop: Difference between Input and Decision Making: Empowering New Voices to Lead the Movement  (Low attended!)

Workshop: Building the Movement: Constructing a plan for Women Bike Advocacy in Your Community (Tina attended!)

Closing Keynote

Our Biking Connections
(Tina and Low attended!)

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Wow, what a great share-back, and great details included! You all did us proud! I'm excited for the connections you made with other groups around the country that are (or are ready to be) WTF-friendly. Thanks so much for your voice and advocacy, Low!
Posted by JJ on
What an amazing write-up. Thanks so much for sharing all this with us, it fires me up and makes me want to organize.
Posted by anneka on