Statement of Solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement
SORBA Athens is a mountain bike advocacy, education, and resource-sharing organization committed to increased access for all people to both the sport of mountain biking and to sustainable trails close to home. However, we don’t yet reflect the larger communities in which we ride and we are committed to changing that dynamic.
Consequently, SORBA Athens is recommitting itself to our mission, including renewed efforts to help marginalized communities overcome the numerous barriers of entry to our sport. We challenge and support you to join us to look inward and help us hold ourselves accountable for doing more for our community.
We are committed to diversifying our board and to include educational programming targeting children from communities that are underrepresented in the sport. Those among us who participated in youth recreation leagues with players of diverse racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds greatly benefited from such experiences; learning to see everyone as a part of a same team regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or religion is our commitment to you.
In June 2020, there will be a ground breaking at the Walker Park (formerly Trail Creek Park) pump track. Once this infrastructure is in place, we need your help to implement bike programing for kids. We will be challenging you to donate high-quality bikes, gear (e.g., helmets, gloves, etc.), and coaching hours so we can work to increase access to our sport. We will also be looking to you to help us advocate for funding and installation of the two basketball courts that were an important part of our unfunded SPLOST 2020 proposal, intended to support cross-over of user groups. The next generation of riders, and much needed leadership within the bike community, exists but may be excluded by the many barriers to entry. However, we are a collective group of bridge builders and trail blazers capable of tackling great obstacles. Inequity is an obstacle we must leverage our energy to help overcome.
We have had educational programming in the past. In 2013, Tyler Dewey and Richard Vercoe started a small mountain biking program out of the East Athens Community Center. They had a limited number of bikes and equipment but utilized the nearby trails at Walker Park. The program generated much interest; in fact, the number of participants exceeded the number of bikes. The children happily took turns on the bikes for the chance to access the coaching, the bikes, and our amazing sport. Unfortunately, Richard and Tyler left Athens for work and the program was terminated. We are committed to restarting this type of programing, this time with more coaches and more bikes. We have got to build stoke beyond our small network of insiders…and we can.
Rebranding SOBRA also appears necessary in the effort to promote accessibility to mountain biking locally. SORBA Athens is not an intuitive name, more often begging the question of meaning and mission. We believe ‘Mountain Bike Athens’ would be a more obvious, self-explanatory nomenclature. Other SORBA chapters have elected to identify themselves without use of the unfamiliar acronym and we feel it is time we do the same. We appreciate that within the bike community the overuse of obscure, technical language has the potential to exclude and alienate. Thus, we seek a new approach.
We have not been a strong enough voice for change. We have not done enough to break down barriers to access and we have not strengthened our community partnerships in a way that will enable us to overcome those barriers. We must evolve to better reflect and represent the larger communities within which we ride. We are committed to that inherently rewarding work and we ask you to join us. Together, we can be more inclusive…and way more rad. Please be on the lookout for updates as we collaborate to identify ways in which you can help us achieve this mission.
Please also support and look to Bike Athens for guidance, they do so much for our community and they need our support!