When you are just a lowly citizen among hundreds of thousands, it can seem like an overwhelming task to make any sort of significant change. The Advocacy Leadership Institute is a new program at Cascade Bicycle Club that teaches regular folks the principles and tools of successful advocacy campaigns. Once they graduate from the two-month, these citizens go back to their lives empowered to create changes that encourage more cycling where they live, work and play.
The first ALI graduates are already having an effect on cycling in the city. They acted like fertilizer on the neighborhood greenways grassroots, and some formed a new West Seattle group that wants to make sure Seattle’s biggest forgotten neighborhood is equally represented in the city’s Bike Master Plan update.
The program is the latest sign of Cascade’s interesting (and, I think, brilliant) new strategy of encouraging autonomous citizen action rather than trying to put their name, face and control on everything.
Cascade is now accepting applications for the second round of the institute, which starts January 23. The deadline to apply is January 2. People of all ages, abilities and backgrounds should apply. Also, it is free.
Last July, Cascade debuted a new and exciting program called the Advocacy Leadership Institute, or “ALI” for short. Between July and September, we trained 18 passionate activists from across Seattle and the region to be effective and strategic Community Bicycle Advocates. And this winter, we are back for another round!
ALI was such a success last summer that we are re-launching this January. Our goal is to develop another 10 to 15 local bicycle advocates and enthusiasts into leaders that will help us achieve our shared vision of a fully connected Seattle where everyone – from an eight-year-old child to her eighty-year-old grandmother – feels safe and comfortable riding a bike to where they need to go.
The re-launch of ALI is incredibly timely. In case you weren’t already aware, the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan is being updated and a draft plan should be finished this spring. While the original 2007 plan was strong for the time, we have the opportunity right now to rally the community around a new blueprint for bicycling in Seattle – one where our streets are safe and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities.
This three-month program will run from Jan. 23 through Mar. 27, meeting on Wednesday nights in downtown Seattle for a series of eight two-and-a-half hour workshops. At these sessions, we will teach you how to organize in your community, communicate our shared vision for bicycling in Seattle, advocate for better bicycle plans, policies, (and the funding to implement them), and execute the strategies and tactics necessary to get a connected network of world-class bikeways built in Seattle.
ALI is a rigorous leadership development program, and while we offer it at no charge to you, if accepted, you will be expected to demonstrate a commitment to the Cascade mission of creating better communities through bicycling, attend at least seven out of the eight workshops, engage in the update of the Bicycle Master Plan, and continue to advocate for the policies, plans and funding necessary to create a more bikeable Seattle. To help mix things up over the course of the program, we will host a number of VIP guest speakers, giving you firsthand knowledge from the experts.
Upon completion of the program in late March, you will be awarded the title of “Community Bicycle Advocate” (and get a certificate and T-shirt), but more importantly, you will have the skills and knowledge to organize, advocate and hold City of Seattle staff and leaders accountable for making Seattle a more bike-friendly city. In addition, we’ll continue to offer opportunities for you to develop new skills and apply them, network with other leaders within the bike movement and engage with Cascade Bicycle Club’s staff, Board members and Executive Director. It’s a big family, and we look forward to welcoming you.
Admittance to the Advocacy Leadership Institute at the Cascade Bicycle Club will be based on your passion for making Seattle a world-class city for bicycling. Minorities, women, and people of all ages are encouraged to apply. Interviews will be conducted the week of Jan. 7, and applicants will be notified of acceptance on Jan. 11.
We look forward to reviewing your application and working with you to make our streets safer and more comfortable for people of all ages and abilities.