Tracker Pixel for Entry

Should Fargo have another bike co-op?

by A.D. Ness | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Last Word | April 5th, 2017

The answer is yes, of course it should. However, that is the simple answer. There is much more to it than that; and to understand the answer, one must understand why the last one closed.

When the FMCBW -- Fargo Moorhead Community Bicycle Workshop -- first opened it was extraordinarily political -- WAY too political. For a long time it felt like it was a Social Service agency that just happened to also fix bicycles.

Not that there is anything wrong with helping others, but as a bike shop, it seemed like just way too much attention was devoted to others’ causes, at the expense of its core mission, to get people on bikes.

The structure of its leadership presented problems. What started as a horizontal collective, where each member was equal, slowly devolved into a vertical collective with far too many “leaders,” that still tried to pass itself off as a horizontal collective when it obviously wasn’t.

If there is to be another co-op, a decision must be made at the very beginning: what will it be?

In my opinion, the horizontal collective concept just did not work. How can an organization run itself if nobody is actually in charge?

Decisions were being made by a select few members anyway, why pretend otherwise? Stick with the tried and true chain of command structure (the vertical collective) to avoid the myriads of problems the horizontal collective encountered time and time again, and the new co-op would run much, much smoother.

Another thing that was extremely problematic was the presentation of new ideas. It didn’t seem to matter how many times an idea was presented, or how it was presented, or to whom. Written ideas were simply dismissed, verbal ideas didn’t make it to the meetings, or were “shelved” for weeks at a time until they were simply forgotten. New issues would arise, burying the old ideas.

It always felt like the original mission statement (overtly political) would be the main reason for dismissing profit-generating ideas time and again.

Don’t get me wrong, the Community Bicycle Workshop did wonderful things, and helped a great many people to get a bike, but it could have accomplished so much more if it hadn’t written such a limiting set of guidelines at the very beginning. Nothing is set in stone, so why did it feel like it simply MUST be that way?

Also, while the beginning may have been one kind of community bike shop, the last days were something else entirely. It transformed into basically, a back-yard bike shop, with very limited community education, and far too much bike shop.

One of the founding fundamentals was payment for using the Workshop by volunteering one’s time there.

At the end, the work-trade aspect was all but eliminated in an attempt to sell everything simply to keep the doors open, which was so contrary to why it was started in the first place -- to help people who couldn’t afford a bike, get a bike.

So how should it be structured if another bike co-op were to get started? What would need to be different for it to work this time? The answer is a clear chain-of-command, with an actual leader who runs it for a pre-specified amount of time (one year? two years?); and separating the two distinct areas within the co-op (educational vs profit-generating) would ease the headaches all around, as some people like to show others how to fix bikes, some people don’t; some like to sell bikes, while others don’t.

Why all the overstepping of what were obvious divisions within the organization? There was a place for everyone that wanted to help until the iron-clad rule system turned so many people away with its inflexibility.

I am reminded of a quote I long-ago heard, “Sometimes the groups that proclaim themselves to be the most all-inclusive end up as the most elitist.” And yes, some of the FMCBW members fell victim to that very trait, often by employing utterly condescending “tone-policing” tactics to shut people down.

“Community” means just that, the community, not just the few that felt their vision was the purest. They were just bicycles, there was no need to take everything so incredibly “we’re-saving-the-world” seriously.

Recently in:

FARGO - Three days after white supremacists advertised for a like-minded gathering at Lindenwood Park, posters depicting hate speech were posted on telephone poles along downtown back alleys.The posters went up in time for the 27th…

Theresa Marshall leads Gender Friendly Grand Forks (GFGF) and is the first person I contact if someone comes to me looking for trans-related resources or support and lives near the Grand Forks area. In that regard, she’s helped a…

Thursday, April 27 at 6 PM - 9 PMDakota Medical Foundation, 4141 28th Ave. SEpisode 1- Nepal: Brings the exotic, colorful and festive Nepalese culture to you through the eyes of Nepal native Saru Pokharel. She will share her…

Editorial

Venting online

by Sabrina Hornung

“I am incredibly sorry for all that's happened. I'm young and made a mistake, and now it has caused me to walk away from my job, have incredible anxiety and guilt, and panic even going outside for the amount of death threats I've…

Would a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican kill baited bears?Since King Donald ascended to the throne of a political party that doesn’t give a damn about anything except cutting taxes and filling their own wallets, he…

The moment of truth has arrived. After seven weeks of sampling and judging some of the finest libations in the area the results for this year’s Cocktail Showdown have arrived. Christopher Larson, Raul Gomez and Sabrina Hornung…

It was rumored that Pepper’s Sports Cafe had something new to offer, something smoky and delicious. A tasty delight that could only come from a prolonged cooking process and a diverse knowledge of meat. The rumors were true, and…

Music

​Pump up the juice

by Tessa Torgeson

High Plains Reader: Jucifer is incredible and unique for so many reasons, one being your longevity as you’ve been around since the early 90s, known for your never-ending tour schedule and decibel-crushing, high octane…

[Editor’s note: Wednesday marks the 20th anniversary of the evacuation of Grand Forks and the burning of the original High Plains Reader office. This piece was originally written Tuesday April 22, 1997.]"Get up! There's water…

Nikki Anderson’s home brims with ephemera that embody her life as an artist, teacher, wife, mother, chef, survivor, and healer. A gold medal glistens in the spring sunlight hanging next to a tattered baseball cap on the coat…

Ovid’s mythological tales undergo dramatic transformation by award-winning director/playwright Mary Zimmerman as Concordia, MSUM, and NDSU deliver theatrical productions of three of her modern takes on his work.Concordia’s…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

Spring is officially here and of course that means spring cleaning, yard work, grilling and socializing outdoors. Often this also means more time with friends or family in situations where you may want to have more than just one or…

The 11th annual Fargo Holistic Expo returns to the Fargo Civic Center this weekend, April 22 – 23, bringing with it an array of workshops, talks and exhibitors. The event is presented by Edge Life Expos and Events.Almost 40 free…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

The North Dakota State Water Commission has violated state law more than 600 times in recent years by issuing permits for industrial use of water (read: fracking oil wells) from the Little Missouri State Scenic River. Employees…