This year’s 6th Annual Women and Non-Binary Forum was an invigorating, informative, and empowering display of inclusion and solidarity.
Morning Yoga & Keynote Speaker
Felicia Savage Friedman, founder of YogaRoots on Location, started off the day with a focus on well-being as she led a calming and rejuvenating early morning yoga session. While enjoying coffee and a colorful assortment of fruits, keynote speaker and Pueblo Planning founder Monique G. López took to the floor to tackle the toughest topics in advocacy today.
After taking the time to both acknowledge and have a poignant moment of silence for Antwon Rose II and the victims of the tragedy at Tree of Life Synagogue, she recounted her early days in the world of civics planning, fighting environmental racism from a large corporation alongside her community of Kern County, CA. López took us on a journey to understand the true value of self-accountability within our communities by using the example of truing spokes on a bicycle wheel.
This session ended with having each table think about and discuss the many intersections of mobility and transportation advocacy, and presenting their ideas to the forum as a whole.
Session I : “Equity For All” Panel & Workshop
For our first session, a panel entitled “Equity For All,” BikePGH’s very own Community Organizer, Anna Tang, moderated a panel of transportation and advocacy professionals including keynote guest Monique G. López, City of Pittsburgh’s Transportation Planner, Angie Martinez, and Healthy Ride’s Community Initiatives Manager, Heather McClain. The panel focused on stories of equity, both from the experiences of the panelists as well as initiating a discussion and workshop with each table group to address issues of accessibility in mobility and transport, touching on everything from access to public parks to food insecurity. A few attendees shared personal anecdotes relating to accessibility and mobility, which were acknowledged and expounded upon by the panelists.
Session II : Choosing & Caring For A Bike
All forum participants split up into two groups for the second session, choosing either to learn about bike diagnosis and care with Bike Pittsburgh Board member Karen Brooks or learning about how to choose a bicycle and accompanying gear with Donna Hetrick (coordinator of Positive Spin at Obama Academy), Julie Saeler (a Trek Precision Fit Level 2 Trained Bike Fitter), and REI bike mechanic Sandi Petrie.
For the “Bike Diagnosis & Care” session, forum-goers gained valuable information on how to prepare a bike for the road and how to tackle emergency or roadside issues. In the “Choosing Bikes and Gear” group, guests acquired professional insight into how bikes should fit, which kinds of bicycles to choose for different activities and terrain types, and received a handy takeaway guide on bike parts and fixes for future reference.
During a delicious lunch break generously curated by The Whitfield, Ace Hotel’s in-house restaurant, femmes gathered around tables that each had a card with a topic of discussion printed on it, and proceeded to build a greater rapport with one another in this unstructured time.
There were also brief educational notes made by one of our sponsors, Dollar Bank, as well as by Planned Parenthood. Dawn Hart-Hassim, Vice President of Commercial Loan Operations, spoke on the history of Dollar Bank’s advocacy for Black people and women in the face of white supremacy culture, reminiscing on the days when the bank would give out housing loans for $1, where other banks required a $50 deposit from these demographics for such opportunities.
The representative from Planned Parenthood gave us a brief rundown of the organization’s Title X funding, and discussed the imminent future of the organization in the face of anti-woman and LGBT legislation limiting the discussion of and access to sexual and reproductive health services.
Session III : Upcycled Crafts & Self-Care
During the Forum’s final in-house session, patrons had the choice to either learn about holistic practices for maintaining their own physical care and balance from Dr. Cynthia Hill (founder & CEO of Third Day Soaps Garden), or to participate in a upcycled DIY workshop entitled “Bikes ‘n’ Crafts,” creating bike caps with teaching textile artist Khadijat Yussuff and making other bike-related accessories like belts, wallets, and bowties with Ange Urban from the Pitt Bike Cave.
Group Ride & Confident City Cycling Class
Finally, the forum wrapped up with a calming and refreshing group ride in beautiful weather (made possible in part by the generosity of HealthyRide, who provided free bicycles for guests who may not have brought their own bikes), which well over a dozen participated in. The following day, WMNBikePGH also hosted a Confident City Cycling class during which riders could focus more on making sure they are aware of and comfortable with the rules and regulations of the road as a cyclist in a group setting.