VMBA put its best foot forward in 2022 with a renewed effort to engrain diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into our operations and community.
Highlights from this season include VMBA’s first paid role dedicated to DEI, the development and completion of 2 major initiatives, and the continued support of other ongoing goals. VMBA also has developed some exciting new objectives and initiatives for the upcoming 2023/24 season.
VMBA Hired a DEI Coordinator
VMBA’s amazing DEI committee, consisting of community members, Chapter representatives, and VMBA Board and Staff, began the season by hiring VMBA’s first part-timeDEI Coordinator. This role, first filled by Izzy Johnson and now by Kenzie Fuqua, fills a much-needed space to build consensus, engage with Chapters, VMBA-adjacent organizations, and the community, and help shepherd the DEI Committee’s initiatives. Over the year, Kenzie and Izzy have helped embed DEI principles in VMBA’s relationships, programming, and Chapter relations.
2022: A Big Year for Initiatives!
VMBA’S DEI Committee began tackling four main areas of work:
Indigenous Land Acknowledgement Statement & Relations
The DEI committee began assessing VMBA’s existing land acknowledgment statement and how it should evolve moving forward. As the effort unfurled, we found it was a more significant task than simply rewriting an indigenous land acknowledgment statement. Instead, they found it essential to focus on Vermont’s history of indigenous peoples, its relation to recreation, and how the trails community can work with each Tribe to lift their voices. This is an ongoing project through which the DEI committee is working on meeting with tribal leaders, providing an indigenous resources library, and creating a map overlay of the specific tribal lands on which each of VMBA’s 29 Chapters resides.
Adaptive Mountain Bike Demo Days
Providing opportunities for everyBODY to enjoy the trail is something that both VMBA and Vermont Adaptive aim to do. This year, the two teamed up with VMBA’s Fellowship of the Wheel Chapter to provide an adaptive demo day for riders of all abilities to learn the ropes or the ‘pedal strokes’ of adaptive bikes on adaptive assessed trails, and for the community to learn and better understand adaptive bikes and those who use them. The successful event, held in August, set an example for similar events to come in the future as well as VMBA’s commitment to making more trails accessible to folks irrespective of the equipment they use.
VMBA has a fantastic group of existing impactful partners in the DEI space, including PrideRidesVT, Vermont Adaptive, Vermont Youth Cycling, and others. However, there are many important organizations that VMBA would like to help lift and promote due to their work’s essential and inclusive nature, particularly in terms of increasing outdoor recreation opportunities for black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) populations. VMBA’s DEI committee is working to d establish new relationships in hopes of long-lasting partnerships in programming and access.
An important aspect of inclusivity in mountain biking is seeing someone like you on the trails, both in reality and in the graphics and visuals that promote outdoor recreation. VMBA put in a concerted effort this year to gather marketing imagery at organic events around the state to show each rider that there is a rider like YOU out there. These events have ranged from rides with Kelly Brush and Vermont Adaptive to ladies’ and BIPOC rides. We can’t wait to continue to capture these moments and use them in our visuals that showcase our community.
2023: What Lies Ahead
While 2022 was a fantastic year, our DEI Committee is just getting started. In addition to continuing the work that began in 2022, 2023 has some exciting new initiatives in the works:
Bike Share Program
Not everyone who wishes to ride has access to a bike. VMBA’s DEI committee is exploring programming options to create more equitable access to bicycles around the state. With better access to equipment, friends, parents, and children can share the joy of community, activity, and trails.
Learn to Bike Month
Similarly, access is vital, but proper instruction is just as critical. When starting a new sport, it is hard to know where to begin! VMBA’s DEI Committee is working hard at figuring out HOW to create these spaces for WHOM and WHERE.
Instructor Certification Scholarships
Providing safe spaces is important to learn from someone who is accessible, potentially has a similar background as the student, and potentially looks like the student. We’re working to create a scholarship fund for those who would otherwise be unable to afford instructor certification to access the education they are looking for. This is in hopes that with this certification, they will give back to the community.
We’ve got a lot to be proud of and exciting work on the horizon. If you or your community would like to be a part of this critical work, VMBA is looking for more DEI committee members and is always looking for feedback and community ideas. Please reach out to our DEI Coordinator at Kenzie@vmba.org