A nonprofit bike shop that serves southeast Portland will move to a larger space in the Mill Park neighborhood.
Bike Works by Pear has operated alongside the Rosewood Initiative, a nonprofit community development organization, in a space on Southeast Stark and 162nd for the past four years. The two organizations have now partnered to lease a much larger space farther west on Stark at 141st, which will allow both organizations to expand their footprint and missions.
Bike Works is a program of Pear Works, a non-profit organization that supports homeless youth with mentorship opportunities. The program includes a mechanics school that operates out of the Pear location in northwest Portland. When participants graduate from this program, they can get paid internships at the bike shop.
Pear Works director Nathan Engkjer said the new space being renovated measures 6,000 square feet, including paved grounds and green space. The building (more photos below) has large windows, high ceilings and lots of open space. There is also a covered walkway that connects two separate entrances. The plan is for his bike shop to share space with the new Rosewood Initiative Community Center.
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Rosewood Initiative Executive Director Sabrina Wilson thanks Oregon Senator Kayse Jama and House Representative Andrea Valderrama for helping secure US federal bailout funds for the project (the zip code served by Rosewood was one of the hardest hit by Covid in the state). Engkjer said the Rosewood partnership and East Portland Action Plan grants helped prepare the bike shop for this opportunity.
Bike Works by Pear is a full service repair shop that sells used bikes and also runs the Everybody Bikes program which provides free bikes to people in need. “And it’s not just us giving out a bike,” Engkjer explained when I met him and other partners in the new space in January, “It’s really that partnership with Rosewood and other members from the community. They know the need and then come to us with a recommendation.”
Wilson says the new space, “Is an opportunity to really put down roots as a long-term organization so we can keep the work going.” “The main point of this is to make sure that we are here forever and that we can have community ownership over this space. It’s really important.
(Sabrina Wilson and Nathan Engkjer)
Part of Rosewood’s work has always included advocating for a healthier and safer built environment – and that includes road infrastructure. Wilson said the people she serves suffer from an unsafe, disengaged and disconnected transportation network and that creating better access to mobility options like bicycles is key to their mission. Looking out the large windows of the new space at the cars driving down SE Stark Street, Wilson said: ‘It’s a predominantly automobile area where you have people who rely on public transport and walk to get themselves. get to where they need to go, so we need to think about having sidewalks where you can walk and it’s not cars flying 50 mph in front of you.
More bike access ticks a lot of boxes in Rosewood’s work. “Going back to the economic development aspect, people rely on these transportation options to get to their jobs and things like that,” Wilson said. “And so we’re working very closely with the Portland Office of Transportation and Metro to constantly drive improvements in that area so that they can come to places like this community center and feel safe to come here.”
They’ll have a lot of work to do given SE Stark’s macabre legacy.
Wilson is also excited about how the ground has green spaces and safe places for people to congregate. She called their current location – which has no green space and is located in a shopping mall facing a large public car park – a “concrete island”.
Engkjer said one of the ideas was to build a cycling skills area and pump track in the unpaved part of the terrain.
Pear Development Manager Brandie Rajbhandari was also present during the site visit in January. “As far as public health and the possibility of having access to bicycles in this community, for an area that honestly isn’t as pedestrian friendly as other parts of the city, it’s going to be really important.”
Having a good cafe on site will also be very important. This is where Nossa Familia Coffee came in. They have already worked with Pear on their cafe storefront in the Old Town, and Engkjer is very excited to build a cafe or at least have a coffee cart in the new community center.
Nossa Familia founder Augusto Carneiro has already pledged to help. “We live here and we breathe here, and I always think, how can we, as a company, create a net positive impact in the community in which we find ourselves?” Carneiro said. “We can make people happy with coffee, but we can’t really solve society’s problems with coffee, so we started partnering with local organizations like Pear.”
For the month of March, Nossa will donate 50 cents from every bag sold of her Full Cycle Roast to Bike Works by Pear.
Construction of the new space is already well underway and the community center and bike shop are expected to be open by this summer.