New community bicycle shop in Stevens Point: Open house on Thursday

I just received an e-mail from Tom Baehr at Justiceworks. As part of that organization’s efforts, he is spearheading the creation of a community bicycle shop in Stevens Point called Shifting Gears.

This new effort aligns well with Justiceworks’ mission and goals. From their website, “Justiceworks is a non-profit community justice organization dedicated to the advancement of programs and practices that secure right relationships between offenders, victims, and their communities.”

I reproduce Mr Baehr’s e-mail below so you can learn what Shifting Gears is all about directly from his words:

Over a year ago, Justiceworks, Ltd. registered Shifting Gears, LLC as a limited liability company owned by Justiceworks to develop a community bicycle shop as an offender reentry program. We still have a long way to go, but we have come very far in a short time. We now have about 200 bicycles in warehouse space on Wood Street.

I am pleased to invite you to an informational Open House this Thursday [June 27] from 1-5 p.m. at 2116 Wood Street (Wood Street at Shaurette). We will have a grill set up in the parking lot, and the public is invited. We are presenting it as an opportunity to see the shop and find out what we are up to. We will be soliciting donations of bicycles, parts, tools, and supplies. Those who are so inclined may also donate cash. We will also be recruiting volunteers.

We will not have more than a handful of bicycles for sale. We have about 200 bikes in need of work, many of them children’s bikes. On the other hand, about 10 police departments have told us they will donate abandoned bikes, and we expect to process about 1000 bicycles this year. Of those, we hope to be able to repair and sell 500 bikes. We also plan to provide bicycles in exchange for volunteer service in the shop for probationers, parolees, or persons recently released from jail.

With a bit of luck, we will have good weather for Thursday. Stop by and see us, and please feel free to share this with anyone who may be interested. Thanks for your support!

Tom Baehr
Shifting Gears, LLC
A Justiceworks, Ltd. Project

Programs similar to this have succeeded in cities across the US. To cite one example in Wisconsin, a non-profit program called DreamBikes currently operates in Madison and Milwaukee. Quoting from their website, DreamBikes operates used bicycle shops to “provide our youth with work experience” and to “provide access to affordable quality bikes to those in need.”

I wrote a blog post last year about a Vancouver, WA, program with a slightly different twist on this theme. You can read that blog post here.

I feel Shifting Gears is an exciting development in Stevens Point for many reasons. Programs such as this are a win-win-win for all – they provide valuable job training, they provide inexpensive transportation options, and they create a positive community space.

I encourage all folks – whether or not you are a Poky Pedaler – to attend the Shifting Gears open house Thursday 6/27 from 1-5 PM. You might even become inspired to learn how you can contribute your skills and resources to the success of this worthy program.

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