Posted by Dan Liu (News Intern) on April 13th, 2009 at 4:45 pm
[Editor’s note: This story was written by BikePortland News Intern Dan Liu. Stay tuned for more photos and stories from Dan!]
(Photos: Dan Liu)
Last fall, North Portland bike repair and tool co-op Bike Farm celebrated its one-year anniversary by moving into a new space — one where the young non-profit now must make rent.
In other words, “We’re excited for the summer,” says Bike Farm’s volunteer analyst Momoko Saunders. “We really hope that the bike community will come out and support us as the weather gets better.”
At their new location in a former hair salon on 305 NE Wygant St., (their old location had been a donated residential garage off Alberta), Bike Farm has officially survived the winter slow-season thanks to individual memberships, donations, and volunteers’ sweat.
Started in November 2007, Bike Farm’s mission is to give people the knowledge and resources to repair their own bikes. Anyone can come into the shop and learn from volunteer mechanics how to fix and maintain their bike: use of the space and tools is $5 an hour for those who just need a random fix, while monthly and annual members are entitled to unlimited use of Bike Farm’s tools and advice from volunteer mechanics.
Bike Farm’s goal this year is to go beyond simple survival — they want to launch more programs and services that will permanently strengthen the DIY spirit of Portland cyclists. While many shops offer intensive bike repair classes, Bike Farm’s volunteers hope to be a more regular resource for Portlanders year-round; and, while the mission of the Bicycle Repair Collective in Southeast is much the same, Bike Farm’s challenge is to do its education and community-oriented work without the resources of a full time, professional repair shop.
Instead, all of Bike Farm’s operations are run by volunteers. “We’re consensus-run, so our volunteers’ input and initiatives can make an immediate impact on the way we run and organize ourselves,” says Saunders. The shop not only depends on volunteer mechanics, but also folks that want to donate their time to do anything from knitting caps for sale, building connections with other non-profits, and maintaining shop’s website.
For example, Bike Farm’s current monthly repair class, “Kasher Your Kogs“, was started by a volunteer after he was approached by nearby eco-Jewish intentional community, Beit Kayam. (Their next Kasher Your Kogs class is coming up on April 19th, 4pm; of course, all are welcome, regardless of religious or ethnic affiliation.)
As a volunteer-driven organization, Bike Farm faces the dual challenges of gaining expertise and garnering interest. “Right now, we’re looking for a volunteer to help us out with community outreach… someone to help us spread the word, encourage new people to become members, and make the shop a fixture in the community,” says volunteer mechanic James Moore. A recent attempt to start a commuting class, for example, didn’t take off because few people even knew about it, while their bi-weekly Women & Trans shop hours have become more intermittent, after their cadre of female mechanics moved away to various parts of the country.
Anyone interested in volunteering can email firstname.lastname@example.org — or better yet, says James, “The best way to volunteer is to just show up at the shop!”
In addition to a volunteer community outreach coordinator, Bike Farm is also looking for volunteers to collect used parts donations, and of course, volunteer mechanics to run shop hours.
Bike Farm is at 305 NE Wygant St. and Garfield, one block west of MLK. Shop hours are Fri. 12-4, Sat. 11-6, Sun. 12-4, and Mon. 4-7.
(*Disclaimer: The author of this story is currently a Bike Farm volunteer mechanic.)