International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day, March 8th. THEME: #ChooseToChallenge.

TL;DR [though, we challenge you to read it all.] Common Cycle is calling ourselves in. We unpack it below.

What does it mean to “call in,” exactly? It’s all about calling in the calling out culture; a.k.a. speaking up without tearing down. And it’s the genius of Loretta J. Ross, human rights activist and professor at Smith College.

Dr. Rebecca Eunmi Haslam, Founder of Seed the Way LLC and Assistant Professor in the Education Department at Saint Michael’s College provides this excellent resource for how and when to use Calling In vs Calling Out when challenging inherent biases in an effort to disrupt patterns that continue to oppress BIPOC and other people marginalized by social inequity.

Every year IWD is on March 8th. Every year there is a designated theme. And this year, it’s #ChooseToChallenge. What folks might not know is that the theme is intended not simply to début on March 8th and stop there. It is meant to be “celebrated and continue all year long to unify direction and galvanize activity by providing a meaningful framework to connect and amplify action.”

Here’s what they say,

“A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change. So let’s all choose to challenge.

How will you help forge a gender equal world?

Celebrate women’s achievement.
Raise awareness against bias.
Take action for equality.”

At Common Cycle, we still have a LONG way to go. But, we are actively working on rising to this challenge. To call ourselves in to focus on our opportunities for growth. We made a promise on June 4, 2020 to do better. At our Board and Steering Committee Retreat in February 2021, we committed to further doing this work with the heart of our focus on our core mission:

We are a community-based organization empowering Ann Arbor to ride bicycles by providing access to education, workspace, and resources.

Empowered women empower women!

In 2016, volunteer Jayanthi Reddy created Common Cycle’s Women/Trans/Femme nights—a welcoming space for women of all backgrounds to gather and learn about a specific bicycle maintenance concept. Countless people have benefited from Jayanthi’s patient teaching style, myself included.

It was at such a gathering that inspired and provided a spark for fellow Common Cycle Board member, Emma Wendt.

My first memory of Common Cycle was getting help fixing my brakes. Jayanthi was there with her “the bike is lava” mantra, the idea being that the instructor does not touch the bike but rather guides the person learning to practice the skill on their own.

She made sure I was doing the fixing and the learning, and she was just there so we could help figure it out together rather than doing it for me. I felt so much more comfortable with that experience than in so many other bikey settings—and I consider myself a strong, capable woman.

While it took me many years before getting involved with Common Cycle, I eventually came back and joined the Board. My positive experience with Jayanthi was part of the reason, knowing we had the capacity to be a supportive, effective organization.

Emma Wendt

And, the same was true for me. At a joint event hosted at FitMi with bike fitter extraordinaire, Jessica Bratus, I learned from both of these incredible women how to fix a flat tire. I left that Women/Trans/Femme night feeling pumped, pun intended, and it was the fuel I needed to set my own bicycle journey in motion.

women/trans/femme nights relaunch

Stay tuned for Women/Trans/Femme nights coming soon! Offered virtually to start, shifting to in-person/outdoor when the weather and global pandemic conditions allow for us to gather safely.

celebrate. raise awareness. take action.

Today we celebrate women’s achievements. Let us challenge ourselves and others to continue to celebrate these achievements and actively raise up and empower all women early and often. Let us take action to unite for equality for all women and challenge our inherent biases and understanding of intersectional feminism. Let us be actively inclusive of LGBT*IQA+ people in all spaces. Let’s do it together.


—-

By: Katie Jeannin, Common Cycle Board Member

inspired for more? check out these Resources

  • Accounts worth following on Instagram:
    @thebrownbikegirl / @ayesuppose / @cyclista_zine / @pedal2thepeople / @wokeandspoked
  • Ann Arbor Velo Club Women Racing Team
    AAVC Women’s Team is looking to recruit new members! Deadline to sign up for their mentorship program is March 15th.
  • Thee Abundance Summit – March 26th & 27th
    A virtual celebration of Black and Brown joy in cycling and the outdoors. This free virtual celebration will be live-streamed on the A Quick Brown Fox Youtube Channel. Register here.


—-