Bike East Bay’s 2016 Annual Member Meeting was a hit! With 90 people in attendance at Sports Basement in Berkeley, we took care of business, heard a thought-provoking speaker, and still had time to eat pizza, laugh, catch up, and share upcoming volunteer opportunities.
At the meeting, Bike East Bay members had a chance to give feedback and vote on important changes to our bylaws, which:
- Change our board of directors from 1-year terms to staggered 3-year terms,
- Remove a provision that allowed on-the-spot nominations to the board of directors in favor of a procedure where anyone can be nominated to the board with seven days notice and the signatures of 10 members, and
- Better protect the privacy of members by allowing the board to create a policy for managing requests for inspecting membership records.
After taking several thoughtful questions from the audience, members voted to approve these bylaw changes with overwhelming yay votes and one nay vote. Members also elected the proposed slate for the 2017 Board of Directors with overwhelming yay votes and one abstention. You can review the bylaw changes and the elected 2017 slate of board members here.
Guest Speaker Elly Blue
In the second part of the member meeting, we heard an inspiring presentation from Elly Blue of Microcosm Publishing, author of Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy, on how bike advocacy can join the broader movement for social justice. She asked Bike East Bay and our members to:
Look beyond bicycles
Shift your own perspectives first
Always ask “Who is this for?”
Elly grounded this call to action in the history of bike advocacy being late to the social justice movement. The League of American Bicyclists voted to become an exclusively white organization in 1894, an action that was not reversed until 1999. Let that sink in. For 30+ years after the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s, national leadership in bicycle advocacy still excluded people of color on the books.
Looking around the room, which was predominantly though not entirely made up of white folks, Elly commented that this was one of the most diverse groups of bike advocates she has talked to. That’s not saying much — we have much further to go to become a more representative and inclusive organization. With this in mind, we share Elly’s calls to actions for our organization and our members:
State your support for what you believe in. Just saying it out loud is important. It is good to be wary of doing lip service and not backing it up, but let that motivate you to do more, not stop you from speaking. Say the thing.
Reprogram yourself. Who are the leaders around you? What are your assumptions about who the leaders around you are? Elly shared statistics that black women are the mostly likely to have read a book in the past year, be educated, and vote. She suggested practicing “micro-affections” instead of micro-aggressions. When you see people you may not assume are a guiding force, remind yourself that they are probably a civic leader, they are a source of wisdom and knowledge, and that they are revolutionary.
Amplify voices that are less likely to be heard. Hold each other up, and be aware of who you give credit to. President Obama’s aides employed amplification or “shine theory” to make sure women and junior aides’ voices were heard and credit was given where due.
Make conscious choices in your social groups. You have choices in the friendships you make and the activities you choose to be involved with and support with your time and dollars. Be conscious of the diversity and inclusivity of these groups. She suggested that many bike advocates need to get out of a “white silo”. If you only hang out with all-white groups (even if they’re not purposefully exclusive), you’re likely to only have white friends, and only be exposed to white people’s perspectives on things.
Beware the great “we”. Who is included when you say “we”? Are you including people whose views are not actually considered? Are you coercing action instead of representing views? Always ask who this “we” is.
Elly had a few more notes for bike advocacy specifically:
To follow her first takeaway of “Look beyond bicycles”, and to look beyond infrastructure to build an inclusive movement, bike advocates can consider how their organization is or isn’t following the calls to action. To get out of the bike silo, you have to get out of the white silo. Choose your allies wisely.
Focus on the people already biking. Make sure you’re seeing everyone who is already out there, because the census and other data collection methods do a terrible job of seeing people on bikes. She challenged the zeitgeist of targeting the 60% of people who are “interested but concerned” about biking.
Be critical of expert culture. Who are you listening to? By whom are these opinions put forth?
She ended with two pieces of advice:
We cannot be afraid. Don’t give away your power by being afraid.
Do the basic stuff first and then keep going.
We thank our board members for your service and all of our 4,000 members for helping build better bike lanes and encouraging more people to ride in the East Bay. Join the movement by becoming a member of Bike East Bay at BikeEastBay.org/Join.