Last Friday, March 6, Central City Concern and Bikes for Humanity PDX (B4HPDX) came together to celebrate and officially announce the grand opening of the Chain Reaction Bike Co-op, located in CCC’s Estate building.
A partnership project nearly two years in the making, the Chain Reaction Bike Co-op will serve as a resource through which CCC clients can help refurbish donated bicycles and receive bike mechanic training, earning a free bike through sweat equity. Bikes for Humanity PDX will provide the curriculum, volunteer trainers, and tools.
“This is such a fantastic synergy between the mission of Central City Concern and what Bikes for Humanity PDX does,” Rachel Bailey, CCC’s Sustainable Development Manager, said during the kick-off event. “Clients will be able to access a free, sustainable form of transportation that supports their efforts toward becoming more self-sustaining and self-sufficient.”
Bikes for Humanity PDX takes publicly donated bikes and uses professionally developed curriculum to teach volunteers to become mechanically proficient; many of their refurbished bikes are then given to those in need or sold. These volunteers then go out into the community and help others repair their bicycles.
According to Steven Kung, founder of B4HPDX, Rachel first approached his organization as a potential beneficiary of the dozens, possibly hundreds, of bicycles past tenants had left behind in CCC housing over the years.
“I told her that we don’t have room to store all of that, but if CCC has storage space, Bikes for Humanity can provide the program,” Scott told the audience. “We can donate the tools, and we can provide free training so we can help your clients become self-reliant, just like our volunteers.”
Central City Concern found the perfect space in the basement of the Estate Hotel housing property. CCC and B4HPDX then set out to work out details with regarding granting bikes, finding volunteers, and other programmatic and logistical matters. More than a year of planning later, the Chain Reaction Co-op was ready for clients.
“This is one of the first instances of a bike co-op in a network of co-ops that B4HPDX is creating around the Portland metro area. We hope to see this as a very good example to let other communities see things like this can be done,” said Steven.
According to Ryan Davis, a CCC Employment Specialist who is coordinating the repair workshops for interested clients through the Employment Access Center, Chain Reaction has already garnered considerable interest and is poised to make a great impact on the CCC client community.
“More than 10 clients have signed up to participate in the first set of repair classes. Each person is confirmed to start on Monday!” Ryan announced to those in attendance. “It’s been a beautiful process to collaborate with Bikes for Humanity.”
While many grand openings opt for a ribbon cutting, CCC and B4HPDX decided instead to signal the official start of Chain Reaction with a memorable ribbon “ride-through.” Ryan, after donning the proper safety gear, rode his own bike down the adjoining hallway, into the co-op space, and straight through a ribbon. (left)
We look forward to checking back in after the first round of clients have finished refurbishing their bikes!