Overview and Vision
The School of Dirt’s mission is to provide youth with essential skills for accessing, riding, and navigating urban trail systems by bicycle. The School seeks to serve the diverse communities of the Greater Boston Area, and will begin piloting courses during the summer of 2021.
The School will offer instruction on safely navigating streets and trails free of charge to youth between the ages of 14 and 20. While a core mission of the School includes cultivating ridership and leadership capacity among women and BIPOC, our programs are open to people of all backgrounds and identities.
We are partnering with the Boston cycling community including Bikes Not Bombs (BNB) and MIT Cycling to cultivate cycling leaders and recruit program participants.
The School of Dirt’s curriculum revolves around four skill sets that are essential for becoming a competent rider, route planner, and ride leader.
Safely traversing technical terrain - including roots, rocks, sand, and steep hills - demands a specific set of riding skills. Course instructors will help youth practice riding on challenging terrain in the controlled environment of Franklin Park.
The ability to read different types of maps is crucial for finding bicycle-friendly pathways to destinations throughout the city, as well as navigating trail systems. Ultimately, the School seeks to empower youth with the ability to create their own maps using commonly-available navigational tools to find safer routes to common destinations or satisfy their desire for adventure.
Riding on rough terrain can wreak havoc on bicycles, so understanding what tools to bring and how to use them is critical for self-sufficiency. All School courses will include mechanical instruction for addressing a range of common issues encountered while riding through the forest such as fixing a flat, repairing a broken chain, and adjusting brakes & derailleurs.
Organizing the ride, providing route information, selecting the right equipment, and setting expectations for fellow riders are essential to a successful outing in the woods. As such, School instructors will model and reinforce key leadership skills including maintaining a positive outlook, risk assessment, problem solving, and consensus building.
Frequently asked questions
How are you working to build a diverse community around cycling?
Urbandirt is working with leadership of Bikes Not Bombs (BNB) to identify instructional leaders and course participants specifically from the Boston neighborhoods of Jamaica Plain, Mattapan, and Dorchester, which have high populations of Black, Hispanic, and Asian backgrounds - all of which have been historically underrepresented in the cycling community. As part of the recruitment effort, BNB will assist the School recruit instructors and participants from within its current programs as well the vast alumni network that it has cultivated throughout decades of serving Boston communities.
The School’s core mission is strongly aligned with BNB, which seeks to leverage the bicycle for social change through a wide array of skills programming for youth. The School of Dirt seeks to complement these programs by increasing trail riding and navigation competencies among youth from the same communities that BNB presently serves. A key objective of the School is to identify and promote individuals from these communities into leadership positions within the School, both in an instructional capacity and at the director level.
Notes on Instructional Staff: We are presently working with Bikes Not Bombs, MIT Cycling club, and members of the local Cycling community to assemble an instructional staff that is racially, economically, and gender-diverse. In the near-term, the School is seeking to identify a Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to help coordinate DEI training for instructors, and ensure the School’s implementation and growth embodies DEI principles. Additionally, the School will fund one Youth Ambassador (ideally a Bikes Not Bombs alumni from a community that the School seeks to serve) to assist with on-site logistics, as well as ongoing coordination and communication among youth participants.
instructor / participant enrollment
Interested in enrolling in the School of Dirt or helping out as an instructor? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to stay tuned to details as the School shifts into higher gear!
To make the School a reality, we are relying upon the generosity of anyone who can afford to give! No amount is too large or too small. Please help us raise $12,000 by May 15th.