The Problem and Need:
The concept for the organization was developed among a group of 60 community members who needed a quick and affordable way to maintain their bicycles. Many of the community members were young people, students, and/or service industry workers. Many of them relied on their bicycles as their primary mode of transportation for economic and environmental reasons. Repairs at ordinary bicycle shops were too costly and slow. Members of this community preferred to maintain their own bikes, but not all had their own set of tools or all of the knowledge necessary. They needed a way to bridge this gap, and they knew that they could do it together.
Solution and Beyond:
In December of 2004, these community members decided create their own solution: a collectively owned and operated bicycle repair shop. They realized that, by pooling their resources, everyone could have access to a shared set of tools, and everyone could benefit from the collective knowledge and expertise of the group.
At the first general interest meeting, community members shouted over each other their bigger dreams for special programs and the community building and social change possibilities. They knew that by coming together in a hands-on learning and resource sharing environment, people could build relationships with each other and cultivate a growing grassroots sustainable development movement. They saw operating a community bicycle shop as an opportunity for civic engagement and an opportunity to use their empowerment as a vehicle for change.
Before Sopo acquired its shop space in East Atlanta, volunteers operated a mobile repair shop, visiting different communities and building relationships. The East Atlanta Kids Club decided it wanted the shop to be permanently located in their neighborhood so the kids could use it regularly. The East Atlanta Kids Club and SouthStar Community Development Corporation worked with a neighborhood redevelopment corporation to find a shop location. Sopo Bicycle Cooperative moved into its shop location in October 2005.
A New Home:
After 7 years in the heart of East Atlanta, SoPo moved to the Grant Park neighborhood in the Spring of 2012. SoPo had a lot of help from the community to find the new location, build up the space, move all our stuff, and open our doors. It’s a different kind of space that we are growing into.