Our plans for mitigating, as much as we are able, the causes and likely societal effects of climate disruption.

For its whole history, OCBC’s work has been “just about bikes” and explicitly apolitical, to avoid putting anyone off our mission to “help people use bikes.” The topic and tone of this appeal may seem to contravene that principle, but it is absolutely in keeping with our even more fundamental tenets of respect, resourcefulness, and reciprocity.  We still remain staunchly indifferent to politics (as do greenhouse gasses!) but if we do not use our resources to help solve the problems facing humanity and our planet’s biosphere, we would not be acting respectfully of our home and community, nor reciprocally toward the society that we serve as a non-profit “charity.”

The world we all share is now undeniably beset with dire troubles of our own making. They are cascading down from climate change, arching over so many other environmental degradations, through ever-more efficacious physical and economic violence, down to petty political infighting and rampant incivility between perfect strangers in “social” networks.

We have certainly got our fill of things that need fixing. At least, with climate change, we have some pretty clear timelines all laid out and some seriously scary, assured consequences of inaction to focus our attention.

This is not just the time for another “moon shot;” to blast a bunch of government money at a (relatively) simple technical challenge. This is the time for all out, Rosie-the-Riveter motivation, and flatten-your-soup-cans mobilization.  It’s certainly a time for firm, principled, leadership — but whether or not we get any of that, we will all need to do our part, with whatever resources we can bring to the task. 

So, in that spirit, OCBC is planning some changes to our work in the face of the urgent global problems that clearly will affect the local community we love:  We need to do more than just sell or award a few hundred refurbished bikes a year and provide a place people can learn some wrenching tricks to fix their own bikes.  As “sustainable” a business model as that may have been, we have the resources to do so much more — dedicated volunteers, staff, and board; a sound, well suited facility; amazingly generous donations of bikes, material, and financial support; and many supportive community partners.

This planning began with one line at the end of our 2015 strategic plan;

“New programs or activities for future consideration:
• Develop Shop Class and Volunteer apprentice programs.”

It was taken up in our 2018 ioby campaign to expand OCBC’s workshop;

“To build real resilience in our communities and capacity into our transportation system, we (the people of Cleveland) need bike shops in the city.  To get there, we (the OCBC) are developing an apprenticeship program… so… individuals have the basic skills and experience needed to get work in a bike shop — or, hopefully, to start a bike co-op in their own neighborhood…”  

and addressed further in a recent proposal for the JM Kaplan Prize;

“The long range goal of this project is to alleviate “bike repair deserts” in neighborhoods without a bike shop, which are also home to many “necessity cyclists,” who can’t afford a car… by building an apprentice program for local bike mechanics and then see it replicated by many of the more than three hundred worldwide Community Bicycle Organizations listed at BikeCollectives.org.”

So now we are contemplating changing our “working” mission from, “Help people use bikes.” to, “Help train more mechanics to keep more bikes on the road.” or, “Help solve environmental and societal degradation by increasing the world’s population of competent bicycle repair technicians.” or even “Train mechanics from underserved populations to improve bike maintenance and repair workforce professionalism and pay rates” (or something along those lines: this is still a plan in progress).

Here’s the plan so far: can you help flesh it out, and give some time and energy to help put it in action?  

If so, please take this short survey to see where you might best fit in this still-developing plan. 

If you can make a financial donation, it will help with the large lift to get OCBC up to the capacity needed to implement this plan fully. Your support is indeed needed, and certainly appreciated!

The best part of my job at OCBC is to be able to see the clear impact of our work: on a kid who learns to ride a bike for the first time, or a man right out of prison gaining mobility and dignity with a bike they earned, or a mom seeing her teenager’s pride in a bike they refurbished themselves. I am grateful that those tangible rewards will still be there to sustain us through the longer haul of trying to make positive systemic change to even just one part of the world, in the daunting scope of the problems we all face. 

Jim Sheehan
Executive Director
Ohio City Bicycle Co-op
1840 Columbus Rd
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
216 830 2667