A Personal Response from a Board Member – Corrie Green
On Monday, June 15 we posted a list of action items that we as a Coalition have committed to enacting to ensure our work is inclusive, anti-racist, and promotes Justice, Equity, and Diversity. One of our board members, Corrie Green posted this followup in our Coalition Facebook Group. Please read the below letter from Corrie.
I want to take the time to reach out to our valued members. Some of our members have been vocal about the fact that the bicycle coalition should just stick with bicycles and leave the rest of what’s happening in the world around us alone. I understand that sentiment. I too would like to just bury my head in the sand and ride my bike. I am coming from a place where I can do just that, there is no consequence to me riding off happily into the sunset. I suspect that is true for many of us. We have been living as if it is always a choice we can make to “bring” up what is harmful to our community when it is convenient for us. To advocate for others when we want to and ride away from it when we want to as well. When I made my commitment as a volunteer for the board I had one wish: To make sure ALL of our community members had access to the freedom a bike can bring. I grew up in Deer Run and almost none of us had bikes back then. We were too poor to afford them and there was no safe infrastructure. Many of us would have benefitted from the freedom a bike would have lent us. A quick trip to the grocery store for food, an escape from the difficulties in our lives.
The truth is we are not all coming from the same place. We know the experience as we have experienced it. The larger community both locally and globally are telling us that this is not how they are experiencing it. Harrisonburg is uniquely diverse and yet our organization is not. I am proud of what was built before me by this amazing group of volunteers. Our hearts and souls and volunteerism is something special, and we are now stretching to include more of that like any organization that grows. The coalition has been growing and evolving for a long time. Every member has had opportunities to volunteer and to run for the board. Decisions are not made in a vacuum. We have challenging conversations and sometimes disagree. We have been part of at least three facilitated conversations since I became a board member. It always comes back to broadening life on the bike. We have been actively listening outside of our own circle to what is needed to make the bicycle community truly inclusive. We are trying to open our doors and lay infrastructure into communities who desperately need a better way to get around to meet their basic needs. We are changing. I know for some this seems unnecessary and detracts from joy but I believe ultimately that more people on bikes equals more equality and more joy. Recent events in the world have many people in our community hurting and asking to be seen and heard. The coalition is committed to listening. I have been surprised that the act of working towards more equity for more members leaves any member we currently have out.
The Coalition board members have been working toward our goals publicly for the last two years. The word inclusion came up at every retreat, every board meeting, and every bike ride we enjoyed. We are not asking the community to do the work we need to do ourselves. We have an action plan that holds us responsible and keeps the goals in front of us. The responses we have seen to a statement of inclusion are remarkable. I would invite you to re-read the action steps and ask yourself which ones you are really struggling with? Look at the statements of almost all other bicycle organizations as they recognize the need to acknowledge something unspoken until now. We will still be here trying to build better communities through the magic of bicycles.
We are still and will continue to be committed to Engaging the community, ALL of it. We are committed to Empowering the community by providing access and equal opportunity to ride. We are committed to Building the pathways to get us there. We are committed to RIDING. With all the joy, sweat, tears and equity possible.