Photo courtesy Grease Rag
Grease Rag, the women-, trans-, and femme-friendly organization, is turning four. In honor of this milestone, they will be hosting a party. On Sunday, the volunteer-run forum will be celebrating
four years of skill shares, potlucks, parties, and group rides, and they're having a fundraiser
that ends the day before in support of the work they do.
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Grease Rag was started in 2009 by Erin Durkee, who worked at Sunrise Cyclery at the time, and had a lot of friends approaching her to fix their bikes. She didn't have the time or resources to help them all, so along with Sunrise owner Jamie McDonald, she came up with an idea to have a place where they could get together and teach what they knew about bikes.
Laura "Low" Kling attended the first Grease Rag event in July 2009. The group met up, went for a slow ride along the lakes, got to know each other, and identified any problems they were having. When they got back to the shop, they did some light maintenance on the bikes.
Grease Rag held monthly events for about six months. When Durkee left for San Francisco, the group decided they should do a bit more organizing, which was how Kling got more involved.
Photo courtesy Grease Rag
Now Grease Rag happens seven times a month at four different locations. "Each location has a facilitator, who brings their own vibe," Kling says. At each location, the facilitator, a volunteer, and a paid mechanic (provided by the community partner) host the event, offering a hands-on, do-it-yourself learning environment that's inclusive of all women, transgender, and femme individuals.
According to Kling, bicycling is generally a male-dominated activity and sport, so part of Grease Rag's mission is to create a space that encourages bicycling for women and people that are not cis males.
Kling says Grease Rag currently has about 8 to 10 facilitators, and many volunteers. The community partners are Sunrise Cyclery in Uptown, the Recovery Bike Shop in northeast Minneapolis, the Hub's U of M location, and Spokes in Seward. Community partners are asked to provide grease, rags, shop time, tools, a space to work, and a paid mechanic. Grease Rag doesn't seek out new locations, but waits for someone working for a shop to come to them.
Besides its regular shop events, Grease Rag also hosts a bike camping trip aimed at beginners and people getting into bike camping. They held this year's trip a couple of weekends ago, and had 12 people, four of whom had never bike camped before.
The group also holds a yearly winter expo designed to teach people what kind of bicycle to ride in the winter, and how to deal with tires, safety, clothing, cleaning, and maintenance. All of Grease Rag's events are free, with the exception of the camping trips, but Kling says they try to not turn away people if they can't afford it.
The organization's current fundraiser -- which covers operating costs, fliers, and hosting social events -- will culminate at the party. The fundraiser also goes toward costs for things like the camping trip. Last year, it also helped sponsor several members taking a self-defense bicycling class.
Coming up, Grease Rag will host a special event on September 13, designed for people looking for riding partners for the Female Alley Cat on September 14. For more info about Grease Rag's upcoming events, check out their website
IF YOU GO:
Grease Rag Turns 4
7 p.m. to midnight Sunday, July 7