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Alice Awards puts spotlight on cycling's superheroes

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 25th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

BTA Alice Awards 2011 -10
It was a sell-out crowd.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The 2011 Alice Awards & Auction, presented by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, once again raised the bar for bike advocacy events in Portland. At a stunning new venue in the Pearl District, about 480 of our region's bike luminaries showed up — and dressed up — for a night to honor great work by both the BTA and this year's crop of Alice winners.

BTA Alice Awards 2011 -8
Sadowsky on stage.

BTA Executive Director Rob Sadowsky says they grossed just over $180,000 on the night from a combination of the $100 per ticket admission, silent and live auctions, and paddle raises. One live auction item, a Zoobomb with former Portland Mayor Bud Clark, sold for $6,200.

A comic book superhero theme permeated the evening — from the telephone booth on stage to the t-shirts of the wonderful wait-staff emblazoned with a Superman style "A". But, unlike mythical superheroes, the people honored at the Alice Awards are real, just like the impact they have on our city and state.

BTA Alice Awards 2011 -14
Kiel Johnson
BTA Alice Awards 2011 -15
Danielle and Alex Amarotico
BTA Alice Awards 2011 -18
Mia Birk
BTA Alice Awards 2011 -16
Stephanie Routh

Kiel Johnson, who won an Alice for developing a grassroots program around bike trains, inspired the crowd with his youthful energy and optimism. With his parents in the crowd, Johnson spoke of taking action to make change. "We live in a world determined by the decisions of the past, however the future is being determined by us today. The point is not to find one’s place in the world; the point is to change it."

Stephanie Routh, who won the People's Choice award for her work on many fronts but primarily for steering the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition into relevancy this past year, received a rousing ovation from the crowd. Southern Oregon business owners Danielle and Alex Amarotico accepted their award for going above and beyond to promote bicycling within their company and on the streets of Ashland.

"We live in a world determined by the decisions of the past, however the future is being determined by us today."
— Kiel Johnson, Alice Award winner

In another highlight of the evening, U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer introduced the Bud Clark Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Mia Birk. Back in the 1990s, Birk and Blumenauer tag-teamed (she as PBOT bike coordinator and he as the City Commissioner in charge of PBOT) to lay much of the groundwork (both culturally and infrastructure-wise) that Portland's bike-friendliness rests upon today.

Speaking of politicians, in a nod to bicycling's importance in this region, there were many politicians in the crowd, including: Oregon State Representatives Tobias Read and Jefferson Smith, Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen, Washington County Commissioner Dick Schouten, and Portland Mayor Sam Adams.

At last year's event, Adams was facing scorn for his bike initiatives and several bike-related PR snafus; so he used the podium to urge more support from the BTA and other bicycle advocates. But on Saturday night, he was in a much lighter mood. He listed several of PBOT's accomplishments over the past year and helped get the crowd amped up to donate.

While raising money is the primary goal at Alice, BTA leader Sadowsky says that's not the only reason they put on the event. "We want to raise money and to celebrate bicycling and the work we all do. Alice is as much about fundraising as it is about saying, this is a fun business to be in... and it gives people a chance to strut their stuff."

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Comments
  • Lenny Anderson April 25, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Were any of the businesses on Williams who are objecting to a decent bike lane there to see the fun and feel the energy.

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  • DP April 25, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Lenny,

    Not sure if any of the businesses who don't want a bike lane on Williams were there, but I know a few of us who ARE NOT objecting were. It was fantastic!

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  • justin April 25, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    "We live in a world determined by the decisions of the past, however the future is being determined by us today. The point is not to find one’s place in the world; the point is to change it."

    Excellent line Kiel. Kind of pumps me up for the rest of the week.

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  • TheCowabungaDude April 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Kiel will someday rule the world. He will change everything so power-packed dates fall from the sky for cyclist's energy and pillow line the streets in case they fall from trying to eat them open-mouthed while riding. All hail Kiel!

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    • matt picio April 25, 2011 at 5:50 pm

      And Steph will likely be his chief-of-staff. It's impossible to overstate how much she does behind the scenes, from being on the boards of Exchange Cycle Tours, Cycle Wild and Umbrella, helming the WPC, brewing coffee with Shift, co-planning the Towards Car-free Cities conference and sitting on the steering committee for that organization, co-organizing WNBR, Pedalpalooza events, and attending numerous meetings over the last 4+ years with PBOT, ODOT, Multnomah County, Portland Police, Parks & Rec, and a dozen other agencies and organizations AND volunteering for the BTA. The People's Choice Alice award was well-deserved.

      Not to mention that she will be the last person on Earth to focus on what *she* has done and the first to motivate others. Steph's speech during Alice was almost entirely geared to motivate, thank and recognize the efforts of others.

      Well done Steph, Kiel, and everyone - your efforts are appreciated beyond words.

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  • Meeky April 25, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Congratulations to everyone involved for yet another great Alice!

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  • K'Tesh April 26, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Congrats to this year's winners! Thanks for the hard work!

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  • Aaron McBride April 26, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Congrats to all the Alice award winners!! Keep up the great work.

    ps. Steph rocks! !

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  • Pat April 26, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Perhaps the fictional nature of the BTA party is a good match. I'm wondering if the BTA has any space for inviting members to look at the failures of the past year, and failures just ahead. Most good coaches ask their team to look at both the thrill of victory and agony of defeat. I've never seen the BTA conduct an open and honest forum about what's failing and why. Where's the BTA membership data for the last 4 years?

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    • ron April 26, 2011 at 12:07 pm

      Hold an awards ceremony to talk about failures? That should bring them in...

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    • are April 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

      did you show up for any of this, or are you just sitting around complaining
      http://www.bta4bikes.org/btablog/2010/03/01/portland-advocacy-forum-focused-on-bta-advocacy-and-direction/

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    • beth h April 26, 2011 at 5:30 pm

      I find it stunning and amazing that any organization is able to raise close to $200k in a night, especially in these still-tough economic times. That right there is no fiction, even if it does leave plenty of us feeling left out by the price of admission. Clearly, the BTA has pull among People With Money. Let's hope they continue to do so as they work to better clarify -- and communicate -- themselves to their constituency in the coming year.

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    • Dabby April 26, 2011 at 10:20 pm

      Word.

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    • matt picio April 27, 2011 at 3:03 pm

      Pat,
      Since Rob Sadowski stepped up into the top spot last June, the BTA has made a number of efforts to consult both the membership and the public about what the BTA's direction should be, what the legislative direction should be, what the BTA is doing wrong, and what the focus should be for the coming year. Have you taken advantage of those opportunities to make yourself heard? Have you emailed, called, or spoken to Rob Sadowski? He shows up at a lot of events. How about other staffers, like Steph Noll, Margaux Mennesson, Carl Larson or Gerik Kransky? Have you volunteered for the BTA? That's a great opportunity to bend the ear of staff and get concerns heard that most people never get - and possibly the most underrated advantage of volunteer work.

      I'm not saying the BTA doesn't warrant criticism, (and if you search the archives, you'll find plenty of times where I have criticized them VERY publicly) but if you are only criticizing on this blog, how effective do you think that will be in changing the organization? Step up, get involved, make a difference!

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