From March 26-29, Sopo Bike Co-op hosted friends and partners from Atlanta and the southeast for Bike! Bike! Southeast, a regional conference for bicycle cooperatives and nonprofits. Friends from Philadelphia, Richmond, Tallahassee, New Orleans and Atlanta gathered to discuss best practices, common problems, tips and wisdom when it comes to running a bicycle nonprofit. Sessions were as diverse as cycling, from kids programming to website building, to how to grow the Atlanta Cycling Festival as a profitable business.
The conference started off with a welcome party and Gold Sprints on Thursday night at Elmyrachi in Kirkwood. The patio was crawling with Sopo volunteers, conference guests and Atlanta cyclists as the local beer and tacos kept bellies full. Excitement ensued as local Gold Sprints legend and champion Will Bradley was dethroned by youngster David Baker. Baker won a $50 gift certificate to The Spindle. On the women’s side, Sopo volunteer Kat Volzer claimed the win and a $100 gift certificate to Haute Bicycle. Local brewers Eventide provided sponsorship to bring the Gold Sprints from Dick Lane Velodrome.
Conference sessions began with breakfast on Friday provided by Stone Soup Kitchen. Attendees learned how bike co-ops and advocacy groups can work together, how to build an effective website and how to communicate effectively through public relations. Sopo’s own Pat Davis, volunteer coordinator of The Link, presented on his successful program with the Gateway Center for the Homeless while Nedra Deadwyler of Civil Bikes presented on strategies for building positive alliances. Lunch was provided by Grant Central Pizza and Oz Pizza. Sessions concluded for the day with a snack time and leftover pizza before the 25 mile Critical Mass through Buckhead.
Saturday was a big day full of sessions, fun and food. Saturday kicked off with a pancake breakfast and sessions from Shawn Walton of WeCycle and Rachel Krause of Velo Vixen Zine. Before the group enjoyed a delicious taco bar provided by Elmyrachi, Jeffrey Wisard presented on The Atlanta Cycling Festival while others learned how to use Loomio to make collaborative group decisions. Sessions concluded with a key note discussion on safe spaces.
Saturday night’s festivities were again attended by the greater Atlanta cycling community with a chili cook-off at Wonderroot. The chili was just as diverse as the cyclists who enjoyed them. Cyclists tasted white chili, traditional chili with local farm raised meat, spicy vegan chili and a quinoa sweet potato chili. The meat category and overall winner was Tyler Williams and Emily Harris with an Indian style lamb chili and the vegan winner was John and Ethan Jewitt with their “Biking Buddha” Vegan Chili. Both winners took home bikes from Sopo’s front space as prizes. Saturday night concluded with an after party at Sopo while DJ Rasadon from Arrested Development spun some tunes.
Bike! Bike! Southeast and Sopo was not only host to fun festivities throughout the weekend, but also a forum for multiple bicycle community discussions. The shared reasons why conference attendees and party-goers ride bikes was as wide ranging as their abilities and what Atlanta has to offer as a cycling community. No matter how diverse the reasons or the cycling community may be, the outpouring of love and support for a common goal was both undeniable and amazing. One thing is obvious from the businesses that donated to the conference and cyclists who just showed up for a good time. The bicycle community in Atlanta is supportive, inclusive, caring and downright fun. But most of all, we are strong.
Special Thanks to:
Jenny Park for the fabulous artwork
All of our conference presenters
Everyone who participated and hung out with us for gold sprints and the chili cook-off.