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Diversity Equity and Inclusion: Year 2 Progress Report - July 2021 - June 2022

29 | Jun | '22
Patrick Walker

Continued Learning, Taking Action and Glimpses of Moving the Needle    

Two years ago we launched an organization-wide effort to learn about, recognize, and address social inequities and injustices within our mountain bike community and programs. Announced in a Personal Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Statement from Executive Director Yvonne Kraus on June 5, 2020, we vowed to prioritize inclusivity and diversity and to learn, act and change to make Evergreen and the sport of mountain biking a more welcoming place to be. We committed ourselves to prioritize equity and diversity to help make the Washington State mountain bike and recreation community inclusive for all.

The more we learn, the more we realize how difficult the work is and how it affects each of us so differently at a personal level. We understand that we are only at the beginning of a lifetime of work to promote equity and inclusion within the sport of mountain biking. But, we are also beginning to see a moving of the needle as a result of our work.  We are seeing change on our trails, in our membership, and within our organization. Thank you for your help and support in making that happen.   

I’m pleased to share our 2-year progress summary, as well as our proposed plans and actions for the next 12 months (our interim 1-year progress report can be found here). Read on to see how you are helping to drive collective change on our trails and inside our team.   

Thank you for being part of the change and for helping us move the needle in the field, on the trail, in our classes, and within our own staff and board.  To get engaged, join our DEI committee or send us your suggestions and/or community partnership and collaboration ideas. Contact me and/or Kristen McCune to get involved and help us do even better.     

In solidarity and with much thanks,  

Yvonne

Executive Director

yvonne 1

 

Trails

We set two primary goals for our Trails Program: 

  1. Remove Barriers to Trail Access 

  2. Increase Resources for New Riders and/or Underrepresented Populations to Create More Welcoming Trail Access Environment and Offer Safe, Accessible, and Culturally Progressive Trail Experiences. 

Our trail access goals pre-date Evergreen’s DEI movement a bit, as Evergreen began promoting the need for in-community and/or easily accessible front-country trail systems in the early 2000s.  Many years of planning, dedication, permitting work, grant writing, community donations, and of course trail construction are now coming to fruition in the shape of new trails and bike parks that are making our sport more equitable and accessible in our local community parks and open spaces.  

We are seeing a clear sign of success in our effort to “Bring Mountain Biking out of the Mountains and into our Communities” with multiple new long-awaited community projects opening up.  With increasing trails and playscapes inside our communities as well as connected trail networks, barriers to access are removed and trailhead transportation becomes less of a factor.  Here’s our progress for the past year:  

  • After more than 10 years of planning and overcoming barriers, we began construction of the Cheasty mountain bike trails in the City of Seattle in early 2021.  Urban mountain bike access has been a huge priority area for us and our members. We’re thrilled to open the Cheasty trails in summer 2022.     

  • Speaking of Seattle, we successfully secured a King County Parks Levy grant for the rebuild of the Colonnade mountain bike park underneath I-5 in the Eastlake Neighborhood. The refresh project includes more beginner friendly trails and addition of a paved pump track to make this inner-city park more welcoming for riders of all ages and abilities, and to create a more inclusive playscape for anything with wheels. Watch for construction to start in late 2022 - with opening date in summer/fall 2023.  

  • After years of coordination and planning with King County, we recently signed a Community Partnership agreement to complete a refresh of the Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park!  The project includes trail and structure upgrades, a new access trail to avoid the gravel entrance road, and revising the Bootcamp Trail to make it accessible for adaptive bikes.   

  • To better understand trail design and construction considerations for modified bikes, our staff met with Outdoors for All and Greg Durso, Director of the Kelly Brush Foundation.  The Kelly Brush Foundation supports individuals with spinal cord injuries to lead active lifestyles through sports and recreation.  Greg is an adaptive rider and consultant on how to create accessible trails.  Our trail crew learned about adaptive bike types and considerations to modify and structure the Duthie refresh plans to create a more equitable and inclusive space.  

  • We completed a new pump track in the town of Quincy, and local youth can’t wait to try out the biggest pump track we’ve built to date.  This is a wonderful example of a volunteer driven project to eliminate access barriers and create a safe place to ride and play in the middle of town.     

  • After more than 5 years of grant writing, planning, property transaction negotiations, access consideration, design contracts and community collaborations, Evergreen broke ground on a new Mountain Bike Park at Tehaleh, Bonney Lake, this month.  Tehaleh is easily accessible by bike from thousands of homes in this new residential community, and a prime example of incentivizing integration of healthy and low impact recreation options within new community housing developments.  This one took a lot of work and patience, and not all agreements are in place yet, but we broke ground so watch for updates on our trail pages!  Kids in South Sound will soon all want a mountain bike!!    

  • Evergreen partially opened the new Port Gamble Ride Park this past month.  Designed for riders of all ages and abilities, this progression skill building park is sure to entertain new riders and fills an urgent need for more front-country trail systems.  Located only 6 miles from the Kingston ferry terminal, advanced riders can easily access the Port Gamble trail network and mountain bike park via bike, from the Kingston ferry terminal.       

  • The DEI Committee’s Trails Group developed and launched a “New Rider Webpage” as a resource for those new to the sport.  The new page is designed to provide helpful information and is now live at: https://www.evergreenmtb.org/welcometomountainbiking

  • We partnered with the Chewelah Land Trust to help design a community mountain bike network less than 2 miles from downtown Chewelah in the Gold Hill Community Forest (GHCF).  The GHCF is expanding its trail network with a focus on single-track mountain biking trails to complement the existing trails and decommissioned access roads--in the coming year a new single-track climbing trail will be completed, and construction will begin on two new descending 'flow-style' trails with a targeted completion of summer 2023.

 

Education

Our 2021/2022DEI goals in education centered on making our class offerings, our teaching community, and our curricula more welcoming to riders and people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, races, and gender.  This past year, we embarked on multiple program initiatives to expand the reach of our sport, engage new riders in our programs, and eliminate inappropriate or inconsiderate verbal, physical, and cultural cues that people may experience in the mountain bike community.  

  • In August 2021, the Cascades to Sound chapter hosted its first-ever all-girls mountain bike camp in partnership with SheJumps. Our Youth Direct Camps have historically had a much greater enrollment of boys (82%) than girls (18%). By offering our first-ever all-girls camp in collaboration with our friends at SheJumps, 12 young women had a chance to learn the sport in a fun and comfortable space to build skills, ride lots of trails, and make new friends. 

  • Our DEI Scholarship Fund hosted 48 youth and adults in our mountain bike camps and clinics.  This amounted to 3% of our total class participants so we ended a bit shy of our 5% goal, but we created a new organizational partnership with Yeti and obtained funding from King County and the RCO to help make this happen.  We will evaluate the ongoing use and fundraising of this scholarship fund and look forward to ongoing partnership programs.   

 “The benefits of participating in a mtb camp for my son were huge. He gained so much confidence, some friendships and a lot more skill and knowledge. He absolutely loved his time and begs to go back all the time.” 

– 2021 scholarship recipient parent 

  • Evergreen hosted two 4-week “Intro to Adaptive Mountain Biking” pilot class series in partnership with Outdoors for All, in Fall 2021 and June 2022.  Nine participants with varying physical and cognitive abilities were able to attend and helped us inform, test, and shape our Adaptive Biking Curriculum to better assist new riders in getting ready for trail riding and to create a new foundation for our instructors, coaches and curriculum to better serve riders on adaptive bike equipment.

 

Marketing / Communications / Events

DEI Representation in media and communications is an important piece of Evergreen’s work.  This past year we sought to improve how we present ourselves to the public, both online and in person. We’re working to be more intentional about the photos we post and organizations we support at our events as a step towards making more riders feel welcome and included on the trails.

  • Supported a BIPOC group ride led by 2nd Cycle in April of 2022 and hired a BIPOC photographer to develop a library of BIPOC mountain bike community imagery. 

  • Evergreen worked to increase inclusivity at the 2022 annual MTB Festival. The festival included a Land & Labor acknowledgment by a paid tribal consultant from the Tlingit tribe.  We hosted two affinity group rides: a BIPOC+Allies ride hosted by 2nd Cycle, and a Women’s Ride hosted by Ms.Fit’s MTB Brigade. Each ride had over 25 attendees.

  • We hosted an all womxns’ Dig & Ride event in October 2021, sponsored by Red Bull, REI, Compass Outdoor Adventures, Huckwagons, OneUp Components, PNW Components, SRAM, Icicle Brewing and Girls with Grit. We brought together a diverse group of 30 ladies who are helping to make Washington great for riding. New riders, advocates, coaches, athletes, builders, leaders, visionaries, and brand reps who are committed to building a more welcoming sport and MTB community for women.

  • The C2S Chapter Cranksisters hosted 94 women’s rides in 2021 and 51 rides to date in 2022! That’s more than 600 women riders, many of who were brand new to the sport or beginners!  

  • The DEI Committee hosted three group rides in 2021

 

Operations / Advocacy /  Organizational Change

We must prioritize team learning and reflection to facilitate our staff’s and board growth and development, and truly welcome and achieve organizational change.  We recognize that learning about and awareness of our own internal biases and systems of oppression will help make the spaces we create feel more inclusive.  This past year, our administrative and education staff continued on their journey of training and discussions to make changes on a personal and organizational level. 

  • We developed and launched a new Code of Conduct policy for Evergreen work parties and events, directly stating Evergreen’s stance against hate and harassment, and directly empowering event and work party leaders to correct and report inappropriate behavior.

  • During the Summer and Fall of 2021, the Evergreen Admin staff completed four modules within Starbucks Global Academy’s “To Be Welcoming” training on topics of bias, race, gender, and indigenous perspectives

  • In May of 2022, the Evergreen Admin staff attended an Anti-Racist training with Anita Nadiu, a DEI consultant who focuses on the outdoor recreation community. 

  • Evergreen added 2 women to the board of Directors in the fall of 2021 and spring of 2022, with one board member specifically focused on accessibility issues.    

  • Evergreen’s 2022 community survey was released upon review by DEI committee members to ensure the survey included questions on race, gender,  trail experiences, and opportunity for general comment. Survey results should be available by mid-summer 2022, upon which we’ll be able to report on community trends, diversity, and whether or not we are indeed moving the needle.  Survey results will be presented in detail at the November 2022 member meeting. 

  • Executive Director Yvonne Kraus formed a tribal committee and began meeting with the Snoqualmie tribe about their Ancestral Lands Initiative and Evergreen’s role in protecting cultural resources, while still maintaining access and enhancing trail systems to accommodate growth.  The trail committee began reaching out to Tulalip in late 2021 and while 2 meetings were canceled due to COVID,  Yvonne is rescheduling meetings for 2022.   

  • Evergreen hosted a 7-month e-bike Policy Committee with more than 20 stakeholder representatives including land managers, environmentalists, industry reps, and recreationalists about e-bike access on Washington State DNR and DFW lands.  We facilitated meetings about impact, accessibility, environmental concern, opportunity, technology, and enforcement.  Outdoors For All participated with a strong recommendation to allow e-bike technology on trails for equity and accessibility reasons. We are now summarizing the results of that effort and will issue a recommendations statement to our community and State agencies in September 2022.     

Challenges and Changes

While Evergreen is committed to and excited about the progress we’ve made and the goals ahead,  we recognize more and more that we’re still not quite hitting the mark in terms of making the kind of change and impact we’d like to see. Challenges continue to arise, and some of our own MTB community members have responded negatively toward our DEI efforts, with racist and biased comments and the suggestion that this work should not be of concern to us and should not enter their recreation space, a time of reprieve from social issues.  Clearly, there’s work to do here, and while we appreciate and understand that sentiment, the need of equity and inclusion and sharing our trails is by itself a social goal that we cannot separate from DEI work in our communities.     

We’re also still challenged in successfully working with community partners: we keep inviting folks into OUR space, without fully appreciating the barriers and ways we may not yet be accessible, safe or trusted by everyone, nor wholly considering the time and resource impact we, therefore, demand from others, only to make us feel effective in what we do.  The Evergreen staff, board, and volunteer team must do the personal work to understand the ways in which we’re biased and might be crafting unsafe spaces without being aware of the implications of our actions. This team learning is driving our plan for year three of effort.  

"Mountain biking has been a part of outdoor recreation in the Northwest since the earliest days of the sport, and has grown to over a 5 billion dollar industry nationwide. For as popular as it's gotten, many marginalized and underrepresented groups have not been able to access this sport we love, and many times feel unwelcome and shut out. Evergreen's work to intentionally recognize and address as many barriers as possible is overdue, and we're all proud to be a part of the effort."

 –Eddie Espinosa, DEI Committee member

 

Plan for 2022/2023:  Shift in Focus

Beginning July 2022,  we’ll shift focus to accommodate staff and board personal growth in DEI efforts, and provide space for our internal Evergreen community to focus on joining and assisting OTHERS, rather than inviting others to come to us.  Driven by the idea that if we can’t or don’t know how to change our personal lives, how can we expect to be successful at changing our organization?  Is perhaps the current focus on corporate DEI efforts just a way to point fingers at others and avoid having to change our own lives? We want to find out.   

We will continue to work on direct organizational goals and projects like the ones above.  And we will continue to provide internal staff training and learnings.  We’ll also expand our work to include Board and Crew learnings, as our pieces of training to date have focused on admin and program level initiatives. But, we’re shifting focus to allow our team to make changes in their personal lives, and support us by taking time to assist others, outside of our organization.  We’ll take steps to foster personal growth and direct staff contributions to the community, such as providing time off for staff to volunteer or otherwise assist DEI community partners with THEIR events and missions.  

We acknowledge that for many, the unfortunate reality is that mountain biking remains out of reach.  We can’t deny the persistent social, cultural, systemic, institutional, financial, and physical barriers of our sport.  Evergreen is dedicated to the ongoing journey of recognizing how we’ve played a role in reproducing those barriers. We are committed to reducing barriers that are within our control and influence so that we can help make mountain biking more accessible. 

Thank you for your support and please join us in our continued efforts to become wholly inclusive. We will keep listening, learning, and improving the mountain bike community and sport we all love!

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Mountain Biking
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