It is our vision that people from all racial and economic backgrounds should have access to safe, healthy and affordable transportation options in the communities where they live, work, learn, and play.
We are striving to become an organization and lead a movement that represents the diversity of the communities we serve. We knew we needed help tackling the big project of making our work more equitable and fighting against forces of oppression in our communities. So we linked up with AORTA (Anti-Oppression Resource & Training Alliance) to facilitate a workshop for our staff at the Bicycle Coalition.
Because we believe it’s important to share with our members, supporters, and constituents how we use our resources, we wanted to report out how we spent the day we dedicated for this workshop.
After setting our goals and group agreements for the day, we got into groups to learn a shared vocabulary to discuss oppression, equity, and inclusion. We focused largely on the issues of racism and white supremacy, and how they affect our work and communities. We strategized on how to make the Bicycle Coalition’s programs, policies, and the organization more equitable.
Here are the goals we defined for the day:
- Grow shared language and understanding of systemic inequality, specifically related to racism and racial equity
- Build practice and confidence in having ongoing conversations on race, gender, and identity
- Identify tools and approaches for staff to live the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s most aspirational values of racial and gender justice
Here’s what our staff members had to say about what they learned:
- “The first step to empathizing across experiences is learning a common DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) vocabulary that addresses everyone’s implicit and explicit biases. A difference in experience doesn’t mean that we can’t empathize with one another; it means we have to work harder to make an effort. And, when in doubt, shut up and listen. In order to respond with empathy, we have to listen, process, and THEN act.” – Stephanie Fenniri, Education and Social Impact Director
- “The Equity Dictionary opened up new ways of thinking about how power structures and people in positions of power can use, shift, and redefine the language of racism, sexism, ableism, etc to suit their causes. A good reminder to exercise close listening and critical thinking.” – Megan Hummell, Administrative Associate
- “One of my strongest sticking takeaways from the training with AORTA on Friday was the iceberg and titanic metaphor for understanding racism and relating to privilege. As a white cisgender person, it is an important lesson that any time I am able to see, witness, and experience white supremacy in our society and especially, in our work, that there is certain to be an iceberg of painful and complex forces below the surface that I am not able to see. ” – Taylor Kuyk-White, Bicycle Coalition Youth Cycling Program Manager
- “I was struck by two things of note: (1) I work with some pretty thoughtful and compassionate people, and (2) I should perhaps be more thoughtful when asking someone where they’re from, if something about their appearance or speech gives away that they are not from the US. I am a very curious person, but my curiosity could also be making someone feel that they are an “other,” that they don’t belong.” – Leonard Bonarek, Regional Planner
- “I enjoyed interacting with everyone on issues that can be so polarizing. I found it helpful, especially the interpersonal oppression worksheet. I’m realizing where I display bias where I thought there was none.” – Kate Campbell, Bicycle Coalition Youth Cycling Coordinator
- “A plan for greater equity requires a deliberate investment of time and requires foresight. In order to achieve it, we may have to slow down.” – Alan Spooner, Development Director
- “One of the things that really hit home for me was how easy it is to use words passively to put people down or count them out of something we’re doing, either as an organization in public, or amongst each other, in our office. I’ll be putting the examples, definitions, and situations we learned about to use over the rest of my career to be both a better advocate and better co-worker.” – Randy LoBasso, Policy Manager
Through advocacy and education, the Bicycle Coalition leads the movement to make bicycling a safe and fun way to get around for anyone in Greater Philadelphia. We’re a member-funded organization, and we can’t advocate for building out the region’s bicycle network without your support. Join or donate today to partner with us and make your ride better.
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