Community Spokes is committed to supporting people of the Lakehead and Thunder Bay communities who use bicycles or are interested in cycling. We promote bicycle ridership, awareness, and safety by providing resources to educate and remove barriers to cycling. Community Spokes is devoted to creating strong bonds within our community and building relationships, free of discrimination, because we believe that safe, inclusive, fun and friendly spaces are the key to empowerment.
What we do....
Community Spokes provides a number of services. Chief among them is education for everyone who enters the space, because we believe that knowledge held by all is more valuable than knowledge held by few. For those who know little about their bikes, we instruct you to fix it on your own, guiding you along the way. To this end, we can repair any part of your bike that needs attention, and provide routine maintenance for those parts that jiggle loose. We provide products and spare parts for a nominal donation: things like new cables, tires, and oil for your chain. We also rebuild used bikes and sell them at a reasonable price, in order to help fund our supplies.
Promoting sustainability, cycling, and safety, is another big part of our mandate. The efficiency of a human on a bicycle out-classes all other machines and animals in terms of locomotion, and harnessing this power and efficiency increases the sustainability of society. In order for us to get there, we need to be safe, and promote a culture of safety around cycling, especially in the city.
The biggest part of what we do is building community; as our mission statement says, "...safe, inclusive, fun and friendly spaces are key to empowerment." A community where you can feel comfortable saying hello to the people you pass on the sidewalk is one that's set up for success, and we welcome each and every person that walks through our door. We connect many corners of the Lakehead University campus that otherwise would have no relation, like the Visual Arts Department, Pride and the Gender Issues Center, the FoodBank, Residence and Conference Services, graduate students doing research and many others. The more we get together, the happier we'll be!
How it works....
"Community" means that every member of the community has the right to use the shop and everything in it. This system works as long as patrons follow the guidelines below:
- Respect the space, the tools, and most importantly, the other people working in the shop;
- Ask other members for assistance, people who might know more about bike repair. There's absolutely nothing wrong with not knowing how, and we're more than willing to help you out;
- Be sure to assist in the running of the shop, since it's yours as well as ours. Things like cleaning and organizing are easy to get involved in.
Community Spokes is maintained and operated by a team of hard-working volunteers and one coordinator who's paid by the LUSU Sustainability Office as part of their own promotion of sustainability. Our volunteers accomplish a lot of the regular tasks of running the shop, such as gathering donated bikes, dismantling bikes, organizing the parts, building bikes to sell, making sure the shop is stocked with all the tools and oils needed, and helping people who come into the shop repair their bicycles, as well as cleaning up afterwards. The coordinator does some the behind-the-scenes work, such as maintaining the website, keeping in communication with our friends and backers, promoting and advertising Community Spokes, planning events and workshops, etc. Our volunteers are very passionate about cycling and sustainability, and they graciously donate their time to provide this service. Don't forget to thank them and give them your utmost respect.
All of the shop's bicycles and bike parts are donated by the public. Anything and everything is accepted. We also gladly accept monetary donations from our patrons, as these help us to purchase things that the shop needs. Other than that, Community Spokes is funded by the Lakehead University Student Union and the Sustainability Office, who finance larger projects, like our current plan for renovating the shop, and outfitting it with a rain water catchment system.
Other important things....
We maintain a very strict "No Trades" policy. We also do not buy things from the public. We do this to remove the incentive for laundering stolen bikes, as well as discouraging "cherry picking" - taking our parts for free and selling them for a profit. Anything taken to the shop must be given for free.
Our organizational structure is non-hierarchical, which means everyone is equal. To this end, we set aside our personal differences and focus on our common goals. Anyone who attends our meetings can have input on issues. We also do not identify with any particular political, religious, or philosophical view, but accept the view of others. There is to be no violence or intimidation, no racism, sexism, ablism, agism, or any other ism. Intoxicated patrons will be asked to leave; there is no consumption of alcohol or other drugs in our space.