Culture, not color

Posted on Mar 12th 2010 | Advocacy, Blog,

National Bike Summit, Day 2, 9:30am: I moderated a panel discussion titled “Lessons Learned Reaching Out to Communities of Color”. I was honored to facilitate a discussion among Alison Mannos with the LA County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), Anthony Taylor of Minneapolis with the Major Taylor Cycling Club and National Brotherhood of Cyclists, Allison Graves with Portland, Oregon’s Community Cycling Center (CCC), and a standing room only audience.

It was a great discussion. My take-aways included:
(1) We (people who care about biking) need to pay attention to “points of entry” into cycling for non-cyclists. E.g. many people come to cycling for the first time since childhood by way of recreational rides, including people of all cultures.

(2) Be curious when you engage people of a different culture in advocacy. Leave your agenda at the office. Learn what they need.

(3) Acknowledge that there is difficulty when dealing with people from a different culture than your own. Until we admit that out loud with the people we are trying to connect with, suspicion will dominate.

(4) For organizations (non-profits, businesses, schools, etc.) who want to serve people of different cultures than their own, diversify your board. (And your management, staff, etc.) It’s the only way change will be long-term and sustainable.

(5) It’s about culture, not color.