Building Bravery with Every Mile ?

Read More ➡️ 2021 Spring Program Report


As Norte‘s outgoing Systems and Communications Coordinator, my job involves posting lots of pictures on social media and exporting lots of reports — but most of all, meeting lots of people and forming relationships with them.

Some of these relationships are rather one-sided, like reading the results of our post-program surveys. But it’s more personal than it sounds. These responses provide me with a small window into families, new friendships, and happy memories that individuals, young and old, take away from Norte programs. Most importantly, I get to hear directly from the stellar young people who benefit the most from Norte‘s bike programs.

This season, one response struck me more than most: “I’m braver now.” This is a response from one seven-year-old girl. Usually, participants talk about particular games they liked or learning to switch gears — but she went straight to the profound, and it was echoed by other young riders as well.

I love it, and I understand it completely because riding a bicycle is a brave thing in and of itself. It builds independence, enjoyment, and power: paramount for all growing folks and young women in particular.

It is a way to constantly challenge oneself to be braver every day and not let conceptions about one’s abilities interfere with the movement of the pedals and the momentum that’s building. As our Advocacy Director likes to quote, you’re in perfect balance when you’re riding a bicycle.

Riding a bike is also a ticket into a brave future, both personal and environmental. Norte‘s Safe Routes to School initiatives intentionally focus on connecting active transportation with education because both are investments in the future. It’s brave to say that there are more ways to get around than a carbon-fueled carline.

After a year of working at Norte, I can firmly say that I’m braver now, too. That’s as much of a reflection on the people I’ve been fortunate enough to work with as it is the work we do.

Team Orange is a team of courageous people who constantly challenge themselves to do better and stay focused on building a healthier, happier, and stronger future. This drive is across the board, from the core staff to the stellar coaches and dedicated volunteers.

Inclusivity, advocacy, and equity are all heroic qualities explicitly named in Norte‘s strategic plan and programming. And as a Traverse City local, I’m immensely proud of Norte‘s work in my hometown.

I’d encourage you to check out the entirety of the 2021 Spring Programs report, which highlights both personal takeaways and systemic patterns within Norte. It’s pivotal to highlight the immense growth our programs have seen within the past year — spreading bravery to 153% more participants in Adventure Bike Club and tripling the number of schools represented for the Youth Mountain Bike Team.

I’m thrilled that I’ll be turning over the SCC reins to the fantastic Aaron Selbig. You know he’s got to be a perfect fit for Team Orange after posing with a giant teddy bear at the Interlochen bike library opening.

Thanks for a great year, Team Orange. I’ll see you around.


Jessie Williams


Thank you, Jessie. ❤️