Posted by Michael Andersen (Contributor) on April 29th, 2015 at 9:42 am
Sunday Parkways, the series of summertime open-streets festivals that starts next month, runs in large part thanks to volunteers. Today we noticed an interesting angle in a recruitment pitch for those volunteers.
The recruiter, Phil Barber of Axiom Events, called his appeal “a long-overdue first step toward trying to connect with wider circles of women interested in supporting Sunday Parkways.”
Here’s what Barber wrote in an email today to the Shift bike-fun email listserv, with emphasis added:
I need your help filling our highest volunteer leadership role in the organization with women from Portland’s (often male-dominated) cycling community by providing me with suggestions, feedback, and possibly even volunteering yourself.
This role, which we call Superhero Coordinator, is the secret to our success as an event. It entails spending the day at Sunday Parkways teaching, organizing, distributing, supporting, and generally building rapport with volunteers, managing route logistics, and riding 15-20 miles with a partially loaded trailer. The volunteers who perform this role are, every one of them, some of the most amazing people you’d ever hope to meet– and many amazing women have performed this role over the years (some of you among them).
We fill this position from our pool of Mobile Superheroes. These volunteers ride the route as a team with the Superhero Coordinators solving problems as they arise over the course of a Sunday Parkways event. In order to fill the roster of next year’s Superhero Coordinators with women, we need excited and engaged women to serve as Mobile Superheroes this year.
Our effort to recruit female leaders for Sunday Parkways is about much more than simply gender-balancing our volunteer base. It’s about the core mission of Sunday Parkways to build community and foster connections among the citizens of Portland, half of whom are women. It’s about maintaining the diversity of perspectives that help make any community stronger, more intelligent, more versatile and capable. It’s about fostering female leadership in a male dominated bike culture and the wider culture in which we live. And, it’s about creating mutually beneficial professional relationships with female leaders— for those who like event work, growth opportunities exist within our company (Axiom) and the wider event community in the region.
Here’s a link to the Superhero Coordinator volunteer position and the Mobile Superhero volunteer position. We ask that those interested volunteer for a few events as a Mobile — from there, it’s easy to identify individuals who have fallen in love with the event and want more ownership.
This note is a long-overdue first step toward trying to connect with wider circles of women interested in supporting Sunday Parkways. If you or anyone you know are looking for a fun, challenging, bike-oriented volunteer leadership experience, please reach out to them, encourage them to volunteer, or even simply forward this email to them. If you know any female cycling teams (5 or more), let them know that an opportunity for fundraising on behalf of their team exists at our events and that I would love to get them connected. In addition to my personal email address, I can be reached here: SundayParkways@AxiomEventProductions.com and here: (503) 333-8399.
Finally, please give me your thoughts on different ways I can approach women in our cycling community! Your input immeasurably helps to strengthen the Sunday Parkways program, and our community in general. Thank you!
It’s nice to see Barber, a city contractor, being proactive about getting women involved in a bike event. His efforts to anticipate the possible benefits to the volunteers — leadership development, fundraising for a cycling team, and of course social good — also seem well-chosen.
Being a Sunday Parkways superhero is a great way to see Portland at its best. Whatever your gender, consider signing up for a slot or two this summer and/or finding friends who might enjoy it too.
Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.