Transforming a Forgotten Public Building into a Thriving Learning Center
This spring and summer, in partnership with Grand Traverse County Parks & Recreation, we transformed the long-neglected historic Old Northwest Michigan Fairgrounds building at the Civic Center into the Wheelhouse, a new community space for learning.
Like other learning centers, the new Wheelhouse teaches and reinforces bike education through a variety of programs as well as independent and self-directed learning activities and will be home to:
1) The Traverse City Community Bike Shop: Sharing tools, benches, bikes, and knowledge with the public so they can repair and maintain their bikes.
2) The Grand Traverse Kids’ Bike Library: Ensuring awesome kids have awesome bikes no matter their family’s resources.
3) El Barrio Bike Fix: A weekly summertime community bike fix where we fix, create, tweak, align, repair, maintain and adjust bicycles together.
4) La Solucion: A bike mechanic apprenticeship program that trains local high schoolers to become employable at local bike shops.
5) The Civic Center Traffic Garden: A future Safe Routes To School project to allow elementary students to learn bike safety skills in a safe setting.
The Wheelhouse has allowed Norte to do better – to reach our bike-loving arms wider to not only physically transform a very visible corner in Traverse City but to help weave a culture of health into our community so we can be our best – our healthiest.
It’s been just 5 weeks in our new Wheelhouse and all is awesome.
We just wrapped up our busiest fall ever:
- 130+ kids in our after-school mountain bike program
- 80+ kids representing 17 schools in The Bike Mas project
- 20+ kids from TBAISD’s Life Skill Center and Oak Park Elementary in Amigos