Outgoing Community Cycling Center Systems Builder Ilaoa
(Photo: Melinda Musser/CCC)
The nonprofit bike shop and biking-for-everyone advocacy group is combining bike events and education with a rising educational philosophy known as “Thrive” in an effort to help residents change their city for the better.
“A lot of the time organizations go to a community and they don’t really try to help, but you give them what you think they need,” said Sheena Ilaoa, an educator who just finished a summer designing the new curriculum for the CCC. “What we’re trying to give them is tools.”
Bikes are still likely to play a key role. But Ilaoa, who spends most of the year as a youth educator at nearby George Middle School, said in an interview last week that bicycles will be involved not just for their own sake but as part of a larger plan to empower New Columbia residents and neighbors.
Ilaoa, whose temporary grant-funded position had the intriguing title of “systems builder and community activator,” was the CCC’s lead staffer supporting last month’s ride against violence on the streets there.
“With Jason and De Marcus, the community members that I worked with, they didn’t have access to a lot of things as a nonprofit that we have access to,” Ilaoa said in an interview last week. “They didn’t have the social capital that we have.”
So Jason Washington and De Marcus Preston brought their expertise in what the community needed, while the CCC brought its media connections and event-planning experience.
Actions like last month’s will be part of a “leadership development” curriculum the CCC is building into a set of adult programs that pay modest stipends — $100 a month, for example — to community members who participate.
“You’re receiving $75 to go to a couple meetings about something you’re really passionate about,” Ilaoa explained.
Ilaoa said her “systems builder and community activator” title was the brainstorm of her boss, CCC Program Director Zoe Piliafas.
“It’s kind of a mouthful if you ever try to say it out loud,” she said with a laugh. “It’s definitely the longest thing on my resume.”
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