We’re Hiring: Program and Education Director

Program and Education Director

Norte is seeking a PROGRAM AND EDUCATION DIRECTOR to join Team Orange. The ideal candidate will be passionate about happy, healthy, strong communities and active-for-life kids. 

The Program and Education Director directs and creates a range of programming activities that further Norte’s mission. They organize, implement, and evaluate Norte’s core programs, including developing and refining Norte’s curriculum. This position requires a genuine enthusiasm for Norte’s work and a passion for seeing youth grow and succeed. Strong interpersonal and communication skills are essential to effectively interact with and build trust and confidence among our members and supporters.


  • Reports to: Interim Executive Director
  • Supervises: Program Coordinator, the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, and seasonal staff, namely coaches 

This position is a Leadership Team position, working closely with operations, communications, and development team directors. In addition, this position will strengthen external relationships with community members, such as partners, donors, volunteers, and the general public.


  • Oversee coordination, implementation, evaluation, and sustainability of Norte’s core educational programs. These include Summer Bike Camp, Adventure Bike Club, the Northern Michigan Youth Mountain Bike Team, Bikes For All, Estrellas (in-school balance bike programs), and Solutions (bike mechanic courses).
  • Foster and develop patron relations with an eye on program retention, recruitment, and organizational engagement (i.e., students, volunteers, donors, seasonal staff).


  • Manage the hiring and training process for seasonal staff necessary to run Norte programming successfully. 
  • Evaluate all programming to set short and long-term goals, helping to create impact sustainability standards to support the organization’s brand, and to attract grants and funding. 
  • Lead the Program Team with a focus on retaining and attracting essential employees.
  • Conduct and document quarterly and annual reviews with those who directly report to the Program And Education Director. 


We measure success at Norte by first recognizing that success is a team effort. To achieve this, we work to develop a sense of belonging, acceptance, and support.

The Program and Education Director will succeed if their communication is clear, concise, and professional. They follow, develop, and improve systems and procedures, building and running programming that advances Norte’s vision of happy, healthy, strong communities. 


Norte requires at least five years of relevant experience and a bachelor’s degree, preferably in education, non-profit management, or a related field. Additionally, the right candidate will have at least a year of experience supervising others.


  • Desire to learn and grow professionally
  • Exhibit a passion for active living 
  • Strong leadership and communication skills
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Extremely detail-oriented with solid organization skills
  • Exhibit excellent time management skills with an ability to meet deadlines and strategic objectives
  • Excel at working individually and as part of a team
  • Practical problem-solving and project management skills
  • Proficient with standard office software (i.e., Google Suite Drive) and ideally, experience in customer relationship management (CRM) tools 

The Program and Education Director also needs to work flexible hours, including occasional evenings and weekends.


The Program and Education Director is a full-time FLSA-exempt position with a starting annual salary of $56,000.

  • Benefits: Medical, paid vacation, paid holidays, technology stipend, flexible work schedule.
  • Hours: M-F during the day plus occasional work on weeknights and weekends.


On a typical day, the Program and Education Director will work with core and seasonal staff in Norte’s business casual environment at the Clubhouse and Wheelhouse in Grand Traverse County Civic Center Park and work remotely as necessary. In addition, site visits outside of the Civic Center at regional trailheads, local schools, and with community partners are expected.


There are two steps to apply: 

  1. Submit a cover letter and a resume in PDF form to jobs@elgruponorte.org with “Program and Education Director” in the subject line. 
  2. Submit an online job application at elgruponorte.org/jobs/application

Applications will be accepted until Sunday, October 3, at midnight eastern standard time. 

The ideal candidate would start employment in late October to early November 2021. 


Norte is an equal opportunity and an at-will employer. The above position description describes the position currently available and is not intended to be an employment contract. Norte reserves the right to modify the duties or position description at any time. This position is located in Traverse City and is considered to be exempt.

Download the above description in a PDF.

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Happy. Healthy. Strong.

Exclusive: Meet the Man in the Orange Suit! ⚡

Exclusive: Meet the Man in the Orange Suit! ⚡

If you’ve ever run into Norte Man, you’ve experienced pure energy and unquestionable positivity. It’s contagious. He is the ultimate hype man, and it goes far deeper. When he calls a race, cheers on riders and runners on the trails, or celebrates new sidewalks to schools, he’s inviting all of us into the world of happy, healthy, strong. We recently sat down with Norte Man to learn more about what makes him tick, where he came from, and what’s ahead.

⚡Norte: Thanks for sitting down with us, Norte Man. I know you must be busy. 

Norte Man: Hey, I’m always here for Norte. Let’s do this. You don’t mind if I do some jumping jacks while we talk, do you?

N: Not all. Keep moving. First of all, are you more mascot or superhero?

NM: Superhero. For sure. I feel like my superpowers are energy and motivation. Staying super healthy and super fit is the superpower for self, family, and the community. And for Norte. It’s super exciting; I’m fired up!

N: I see that. You seem to have unlimited energy. What’s your power? What’s the secret sauce? Do you have a favorite breakfast food? 

NM: The secret is lots of fruits and vegetables. And Aussie Bites. Then, also good sleep; eight hours every night. Then, definitely a cup of Higher Grounds coffee in the morning — pour-over, please. And cowbell. Lots of cowbell. Then more cowbell. When I hear cowbell, I put it into gear and move.

A great day is when I wake at 5:20 am. It’s magical. It gives me time to step into my suit, get a workout in, reflect, and hit the day strong. It’s fantastic. Whoo!

N: Speaking of your suit, how comfortable is it? Does it have any cool qualities?

NM: The suit doesn’t breathe very well, but it is nice and snug — tight and right, baby. It’s fast. I recently modified the hands to keep a better grip on the handlebars. It helps me hit those curves flying. I’m working with my friends at NMC’s Aero Park Advanced Research Facilities for upgrades. One upgrade coming to the orange suit is a cape for better lift, and then I’m adding orange cleats for when I need to dig in.

N: Very cool. There’s a lot of mystery around you, Norte Man. When you’re not coaching or cheering on Team Orange, what keeps you busy? What is it you do every day?

NM: I try to be super dad every day. In that role, my focus is keeping my three ginger-headed boys outside and staying active. Because every moment moving is time not on those pesky screens. Let’s roll, kids. Let’s roll! I’m also a Walk and Roll Ambassador at Eastern Elementary in Traverse City, shortening those car lines every day.

N: Where do you come from? How’d you end up here? 

NM: Originally, I emerged from the mountains of the Sierra Nevadas. That was a long time ago. From there, I spent time honing my powers. I even flew Black Hawk helicopters for a while. Finally, I ended up in Northern Michigan because I heard the cowbells ringing and saw the Norte sign beckoning. Right away, I knew Northern Michigan was ready for some significant superhero action. Specifically, a superhero on a bike. You don’t see enough of my type, and yet, almost anyone can do it.

N: Without a doubt, you’re an inspiration. I’m turning orange just sitting with you. Do you have a philosophy on life you can share with Norte‘s newsletter subscribers

NM: Certainly. My philosophy is threefold. One, always have a cowbell on hand. Two, seize every moment — carpe diem! And three, embrace a positive mental attitude — 1, 2, 3. Those are the secrets. And, bonus, wear a tight orange jumpsuit whenever you can. For everyone out there, stay in the present, and you can do anything.

N: What are your most memorable on and off-bike accomplishments? 

NM: Emceeing the annual National Cherry Festival Balance Bike Race is up there. Watching those kids burn through the course and seeing those parents smile. As a dad, it’s the best. I know how hard it can be to get the household going on a Saturday morning and then to watch them just take off. Whoa — hang on! I love it.

On the bike, this past spring’s 24-hours at the Civic Center was epic. We harnessed some real superpowers. When that sky went black, some real villains came out trying to knock us off the task. It was a struggle, but we kept at it, and we got ’em. I’m thankful for my fellow superheroes on that one.

N: Rumor has it you might be throwing out one of the first pitches at Norte Night. How are you preparing? Are you confident you can toss a strike?

NM: I’m keeping my arm loose every day. I have a target in the backyard, and my five-year-old has been training me hard. He has a wicked arm and is a great motivator himself. I sure hope I can make it. Unfortunately, my super dad schedule has me in the UP the night of the game, but we’re going to try. We’ll see. I plan on being ready no matter what.

N: It sounds like you have experience. Do you have any tips for someone throwing their first pitch from 60 feet, 6 inches away? 

NM: It’s all about keeping your eye on the target and keeping your arm loose. You don’t want to hurt yourself. If you don’t hit it the first time, try again, and then again. Keep smiling the whole time. Enjoy the moment.

N: To wrap up, what’s your favorite color?

NM: Orange is in my blood. It screams super. Orange all day!

N:  Anything you’d like to add? 

NM: I couldn’t do any of this superpower stuff without the incredible staff and all the supporters of Norte. This community around Team Orange is the motivation and true superpower — that, and my family.

N: Thank you, Norte Man. You’re the best. 

Do you get our newsletter? If not, sign up for our weekly newsletter so you don’t miss learning about the countless other superheroes from Northern Michigan. 



Board of Directors: July Meeting Minutes

Board of Directors: July Meeting Minutes

Recently, Norte’s Board of Directors approved the publishing of minutes after each meeting, beginning with June 8, 2021.  As minutes are published, they will be archived at Our Governance. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@elgruponorte.org.


To view, click through to full-screen view in the frame below.

“Hold on to your helmet!”

“Hold on to your helmet!”

Fantastic people who aren’t afraid to make a difference have made Norte possible from the get-go. Two of the kindest have been with us from the start, Bob and Laura Otwell. They lead by example and are always there when we need them. We even have an illustrious sustainer’s club named after them. Below, they share why they continue to support Norte—thank you, Bob and Laura. ❤

Being a part of Norte and watching it take shape and grow has been inspiring, uplifting, and hopeful. Watching a group of Norte kids biking past our home is priceless. Their smiles reveal their joy in each other and their growing independence. These are some of the reasons we are thrilled to be a part of Norte.

When asked to lend our name to the sustainer’s group, we felt honored and, at the same time, not deserving because we recognize that Norte is all about the greater community—it’s about all of us. We’ve been there from the early beginnings, but Norte is a source of great pride that we all can share and take pride in. It is all about community.

So we all take turns pitching in together and making it the best place possible. We sustain the effort as supportive donors and Business Champions, as schools and local governments prioritizing people, and as kids staying active, open-minded, and having fun. We also fuel success by volunteering our time and by reinforcing critical skills with encouragement as parents. We are all part of the mix for success.


We should all feel proud that it started here in Traverse City, right out our front window, and that communities around the region and state now embrace the spirit of happy, healthy, strong.

That Norte can-do confident attitude is infectious. It attracts staff, volunteers, and partners, who commit to the effort with enthusiasm, skill, and kindness. We come together for good because Norte is about connecting and caring for each other.

There is nothing status quo or stagnant about Norte. So hold on to your helmet; we’re in for a ride of a lifetime!

— Bob and Laura Otwell


If you’re interested in joining these fabulous luminaries as part of The Otwell Hub, we’d love to have you ➡️ The Otwell Hub


A Virtuous Cycle of Volunteers and Smiles 😀

A Virtuous Cycle of Volunteers and Smiles 😀

Bringing people together and putting smiles on strangers’ faces are a few of my favorite things. While preparing for a recent Bikes for All MeetUp, I met a new volunteer, Cathy. The meeting embodied both of these favorite things.

We bumped elbows and greeted each other with giant smiles as we elbowed our hellos. Then, we jumped into action, lining up adaptive bikes for the riders. A few minutes later, another volunteer, Lee, walked up for a scheduled meeting with me. I told her I’d be a few more minutes and introduced her to Cathy. They immediately started chatting.

As I watched them from inside the Clubhouse, my giant smile grew even larger when I saw them exchange phone numbers with smiles and giggles minutes later. Cathy and Lee had just found out that they live right around the corner from each other. They also share a deep love of staying active and enjoying life. They were immediate friends, and it was almost hard to pull them away from each other. It was such a heartwarming thing to witness.

Cathy then finished setting up for the Bikes for All crew, who had started to gather, and Lee joined me for a lap around the Civic Center. Both of these volunteers learned new things about Norte, our patrons, their community, and each other. They made a new friend—the ripple effects of giving back and serving your community never seem to stop.

It was another magical day at Norte. Everyone was smiling, walking or rolling, and enjoying our public space together. My goal is to bring this kind of joy to our whole community by making friends, riding bikes, and enjoying the outdoors—together. As Norte‘s Outreach Coordinator, I’m fortunate to make this happen with a growing list of volunteers and partnerships.

Last Wednesday, as part of TC Rides and the first slow roll of the summer, we honored all volunteers. We celebrated the friendships and discussed the many opportunities ahead. We also introduced our Super Friends initiative. Here’s to a wonderfully active summer ahead.

Ding! Ding!


P.S. If you are interested in volunteering with us for the first time, please fill out our volunteer onboarding application. I’ll reach out to you soon, and we’ll find a way to create some magic together. 


Norte is committed to supporting our local health departments, public health professionals, Norte staff, and patrons. Please help us prevent the spread and follow precautions, practice healthy hygiene, and get vaccinated.

Board of Directors: June Meeting Minutes

Board of Directors: June Meeting Minutes

Recently, Norte’s Board of Directors approved the publishing of minutes after each meeting, beginning with June 8, 2021.  As minutes are published, they will be archived at Our Governance. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@elgruponorte.org.


To view, click through to full-screen view in the frame below.

Volunteer Spotlight: Paul Deyo

Volunteer Spotlight: Paul Deyo

We’re going to need a bigger spotlight.

To shine a light on all the goodness that Paul Deyo brings to Norte is near impossible. His fingerprints are all over Norte’s growth in the last four years. He builds. He fixes. He plans. He’s even the Master of Fun.

“Volunteering is a responsibility for everybody,” said Deyo. “I like to build things, so when can I use that as part of the volunteer experience I do. Otherwise, I do what people tell me to do.”

If he isn’t building or fixing something for Norte—or TART Trails, the Grand Traverse Regional Conservancy, or some other fortunate organization—you’ll likely find Paul in his workshop at his home in Holiday Hills. He says he’s constantly learning and working to improve his skills. He wears that work ethic and growth mindset like a hat. It’s hard to miss, and it inspires everyone who comes in contact with him.

He was sledding at the Civic Center with his granddaughter in 2017 when he saw a curious sign at the Norte Clubhouse. He was trying to figure out what it meant, so he walked in and introduced himself. That’s when he met Laura Otwell. They chatted about the mission, a shared love of riding bicycles, and a genuine belief in creating opportunities for children. Laura happened to be preparing for the Grand Opening of the Clubhouse. There were donated tools and shelves waiting for installation, so Paul jumped into action.

“It’s not always easy to find your place (as a volunteer) in an organization. It was serendipitous when I met Laura,” he said. “I have a thing for maintenance, building, and taking care of stuff. You’ve got to have something that excites you and that you enjoy. Taking care of things is one of them for me. Luckily, Norte has given me that.”

Paul, and his wife Chris, moved up north from the Detroit area about ten years ago to be closer to family. He worked from his home for a few years as a software interface designer before retiring. They fell in love with the access to trails and biking culture here, and almost instantly, they both started to volunteer: first with Recycle-a Bicycle and TART Trails, and then with Norte.

“I really love riding bikes. I think it is a great opportunity to have freedom. It’s almost like flying,” he said. “There’s something about the freedom that it provides you. I want kids to have that experience.”

Norte is so much more with the Paul around. This year, in addition to fixing bikes, building skills tracks, and general odds and ends at the Wheelhouse, he is following other interests and volunteering as an assistant coach for Adventure Bike Club. Next winter, he’d like to help with balance bike programs in schools. He’s helping create a course for the National Cherry Festival Kids Balance Bike Race this July 3. This challenge is where he earns the title, Master of Fun.

“Just help others. That’s our responsibility,” Paul said in closing. “It’s our responsibility to take care of our community.”

Thank you, Paul. For taking such good care of Norte and your community. 🧡


If you’re interested in Joining Paul and hundreds of other outstanding individuals as a volunteer, fill out an application and let us know. We love making new friends. Also, join us at the June 16 TC Rides as we dedicate the first slow roll of the summer to our wonderful volunteers. In the fall, we fittingly award a super volunteer The Paul Deyo Service Award


COVID POLICY: Norte is committed to the safety and well-being of our community. We confidently deliver programs and events because our staff and families follow preventive measures and monitoring protocols for COVID-19. We also generally look out for each other and stay outside as much as possible. If you are unvaccinated, please wear a mask. We encourage everyone eligible to vaccinate as soon as possible. If you are not feeling well, please join us the next time when you feel better. Let’s work together and #stopthespread.


Bigs & Littles, the Norte Experience

Bigs Littles

Bigs & Littles, the Norte Experience

Four months ago, on a frigid January afternoon, Cecilia Chesney, ED of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan, and I took a walk at the Civic Center together. She greeted me with a gift of a Packers hat. She’s a huge Green Bay fan and the team was about to face Tampa Bay in the playoffs. We then walked and talked about kids in our community facing adversity. I was thankful for the warmth and grateful for Cecilia.

Cecilia and I talked about the power of relationships and mentorship. We hatched plans to team up to do better as the year progressed. This Saturday, we will put that talk into action by hosting the first-ever Bigs and Littles Bike Day. This event will provide a happy, adventure-based experience for bigs and their littles. It’ll give a taste of Norte‘s Adventure Bike Club and the joys of developing the skills, confidence, and friendships that arise from exploring your community on two wheels.

‘m a massive fan of Big Brothers Big Sisters and their work. Since 1970, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan has brought smiles to children’s faces by matching them with adult volunteers in rewarding mentoring relationships. Mentoring is a powerful thing, providing an opportunity for someone to ignite and empower a child’s potential.

If you’re not a Big yet, why not? Cecilia’s team makes it easy to get started.

I’m excited to roll with Bigs and Littles this weekend and, hopefully, many times ahead. Together we can help lift children facing adversity and positively change their lives for the better, forever.


PS. If the organization you support is involved with youth development and is interested in partnering with Norte on a bike experience, don’t hesitate to let me know.

We’re Hiring: Systems and Communications Coordinator

Systems and Communications Coordinator

Norte is seeking a Systems and Communications Coordinator to join Team Orange. The ideal candidate will be passionate about happy, healthy, strong communities and active-for-life kids. 

The Norte Systems and Communications Coordinator supports a range of administration and communication activities to help further Norte’s mission. This position requires a genuine enthusiasm for Norte’s work and a passion for helping build happy, healthy, strong communities.

Strong interpersonal and communication skills are essential to interact and strengthen relationships inside and outside the organization effectively.



  • Reports to: Communications Director
  • Supervises: None

They will also work closely with our teams: communications, programs, development, and administration. This position will develop and strengthen external relationships with community members, such as partners, donors, volunteers, and the general public.



The Systems and Communications Coordinator’s responsibilities fall under three categories, data management, administration, and communications—ideally, integrating them to enable the organization to tell its story internally and externally. 

Systems Management 

  • Ensure data is accurate, meaningful, up to date, and accessible for all staff, including detailed data lists and reporting.
  • Integrate data between databases and prepare for export.
  • Develop, maintain, and implement engagement plans across multiple platforms, including the creation of communication templates. 


  • Collaborate with the Communications Director to deploy communications strategy and ongoing communications, including creating content for the weekly newsletter and social media platforms. This role requires cross-team coordination and compelling narrative and visual storytelling skills. 
  • Support all teams by measuring and evaluating progress across programs and turning that data and testimonials into compelling reports.
  • With the Communications Director, manage and update Norte’s website, including drafting, editing, and publishing posts, pages, and events. Maintain a clean and efficient website structure.


  • Manage Norte’s general email inbox
  • Assist with scheduling staff, board, and committee meetings
  • Assist Executive Director with administrative duties on an as-needed basis



Success means: 

  • Required work is on time, and goals advanced.
  • Written communication is clear, concise, professional, and free from error.
  • Data and communication plans are adhered to and improved when appropriate.
  • Data and communication outcomes are measured, and target goals are achieved.



At least two years of relevant experience.

Formal Education or Equivalent

Bachelor’s degree or work equivalent.

Desired Skills

  • The desire to learn and grow professionally
  • Superior social and interpersonal skills
  • Effective problem-solving and communication skills
  • Extremely detail-oriented with solid organization and time management skills
  • Demonstrate the ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Prior experience with, or willingness to learn: Salesforce, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress.



  • Daily computer work.
  • Occasional light lifting.



The Systems and Communications Coordinator is a full-time FLSA exempt position with a starting annual salary of $42,000.

  • Benefits: Medical, paid vacation, paid holidays, technology stipend, flexible work schedule.
  • Hours: Often M-F during the day plus occasional work on weeknights and weekends.



A typical day will consist of working with eight other remarkable people in Norte’s business casual environment at the Clubhouse in Grand Traverse County Civic Center Park.



Write a compelling cover letter and submit it along with a resume to Ty Schmidt at ty@elgruponorte.org with “Systems and Communications Coordinator” in the subject line.

Applications will be accepted until 5 pm EST on Wednesday, June 23. 

The ideal candidate would start employment mid to late July 2021. 


Norte is an equal opportunity and an at-will employer. The above position description describes the position currently available and is not intended to be an employment contract. Norte reserves the right to modify the duties or position description at any time. This position is located in Traverse City and is considered to be exempt.

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Happy. Healthy. Strong.

Bikes for All, All for Bikes 🚲

Bikes for All, All for Bikes 🚲

Norte‘s Bikes for All program is known for serving special needs students still attending school programs. Bikes for All works with TBAISD’s New Campus, Oak Park, and others. Bikes for All MeetUps — Tuesdays adds an option for those 26 and older whose social opportunities are limited due, in part, to aging out of school programs. While this first run was a small group of five, it proved the concept, and we hope to expand it.

A special thank you to Rose Coleman of the Grand Traverse Pavilions who loaned us “The Duet,” which accommodates non-pedaling individuals. The bike not only looks fantastic, but the experience also places the rider front and center so that they can feel the wind on their face and view the passing world unobstructed.

This summer, join us every Tuesday beginning on June 8 at 10:30 am, weather permitting. The fleet of adaptive bikes is limited, but we will be ready to ensure everyone has a marvelous time. Annie and I both would love to have too many riders — the more friends and smiles, the better.

As a Norte Board member, I feel fortunate to work toward Norte‘s mission of providing biking for all community members. It’s even more special doing so with Annie and her growing list of friends. Come on out, and let’s roll together!


Sue Paul, Norte Board of Directors

P.S. Norte is looking for volunteers to help us with our expanding Bikes for All programming. If helping ensure that everyone has an opportunity to ride bikes sounds up your alley, give us a shout. We’re also looking for gently used adaptive bikes in need of a good home.

If you’d like to donate financially to help grow the Bikes For All program, please made a gift and help us reach our 2021 goal.

$2,400 of $5,000 raised
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Donation Total: $50.00


Safe and Responsible

Giving Back and Changing the World

Giving Back and Changing the World

Recently, Joelle Mabey​ was perusing Norte’s website and saw that our More Girls on Bikes fundraiser hadn’t met its goal of $5,000. Having worked to help empower women as a teacher and through her charity work in Haiti, she didn’t hesitate to close the gap with a significant donation.

“For many girls, riding a bike is their first small taste of freedom. There’s nothing like the exhilaration of wheeling a bike out of the garage on a cloudless summer day to cruise around the neighborhood, hair whipping by her ears, and streamers fluttering from the handlebars,” described Joelle.

Joelle is hyper-aware that boys and girls ride bikes at about the same rate from ages three to nine. Then around age 10, the numbers of girls riding drop off considerably. As they reach adulthood, women make up only about 25 percent of people who ride bikes.

“When girls start hanging up their helmets, they’re getting left in the dust, both literally and figuratively,” she said. “The exercise and outdoor time that bike riders experience boosts moods, fights obesity and increases overall health. A recent study showed girls who either bike or walk at least 15 minutes to school scored higher on cognitive tests.”

Helping young women develop healthy habits and excel is one reason Joelle supports Norte’s More Girls on Bikes program. But the main reason may be the added significance of developing confidence and independence. When a young woman has more autonomy with how she moves around her community, she establishes responsibility and experience, boosting self-appreciation.

“When girls ride bikes, it’s more than just a fun way to pass the time—a bicycle is one of her first teachers,” said Joelle. “Achievements like learning to ride a two-wheeler without assistance are a lesson in balance, tenacity, and grit. It’s a way for her to see the benefit of falling and getting back up again. Navigating her way a few houses down on her bike teaches street smarts, the importance of personal safety, and independence.”

We at Norte firmly believe that you’re in perfect balance anytime you’re on a bicycle. That experience does wonders for self-esteem for people of all ages, genders, and abilities. Joelle supports Norte because she sees value in our focus on safe, healthy, empowering access throughout our programs.

“I believe I have the power to help improve the lives of others and count it as a privilege that comes with its own sense of obligation,” said Joelle. Over the years, she has donated and been involved with many causes, from Habitat for Humanity, Poured OutHands To HaitiCompassion International, and other humanitarian and disaster relief efforts.

“Acting on these powerful feelings of responsibility is a great way for me to reinforce my values and helps me feel like I am living in a way that is true. Sharing the experience of donating has also shown my children that they can make positive changes in the world from a young age.”

Thank you, Joelle. Our work is made possible by people just like you—people who see a need, a value, and who act on their sense of community and follow their heart and mind as one.

And, we couldn’t agree with you more, Joelle. More Girls on Bikes creates healthy, independent, confident, strong girls. And strong girls will change the world.

Ride on.
Team Orange.

P.S. On Friday, girl power could lead the charge in the Kids vs. Adults — A Bike-Off. It’s National Bike to Work Day, so let’s see what the adults can do against the kids! And, on Sunday, our VIP Slow Roll meets up at 2 pm at the Clubhouse. If you’d like to join the VIP circle in time for the VIP Slow Roll and meet individuals like Joelle, please review our Otwell HubColectivo, or Business Champions pages to see what’s right for you.

Safe and Responsible


Board of Directors: May Meeting Minutes

Board of Directors: May Meeting Minutes

Recently, Norte’s Board of Directors approved the publishing of minutes after each meeting, beginning with May 11, 2021.  As minutes are published, they will be archived at Our Governance. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@elgruponorte.org.


To view, click through to full-screen view in the frame below.

Roll on with Eats by Bike Week

Roll on with Eats by Bike Week

Grab a bike, an Eats by Bike Week bingo card from Norte and hit local Businesses Champions for tasty eats.

As Northern Michigan Bike Month hits its mid-way mark, Norte invites everyone to join them in celebrating good eats accessible by bike. Eats by Bike Week is May 17 – 21 and encourages individuals to support the local restaurants and cafes that help Norte put more kids on bikes through their Business Champions program.

“The concept is straightforward. Visit elgruponorte.org to download your Eats by Week bingo card (PDF), then saddle up and hit up our region’s great eateries,” said Wes Sovis, Norte’s Donor Relations Specialist. “I can’t wait to see how many of them I can visit and dive into. I might need to ride a bit farther that week to work some of it off.”

In addition to combining the simple pleasure of biking with supporting local businesses, participants also have the chance to win prizes from Norte’s merchandise store. “To be entered to win a Norte Prize Pack, participants must submit a photo of their sweet eats to Norte — either through tagging us in a public post on social media or by emailing it to us,” added Sovis. Norte also offers a bonus Norte cowbell to everyone who submits five photos to achieve a “bingo” on their card.

Bike Month began in 1956 by The League of American Bicyclists to display the many benefits of bicycling and encourage others to get rolling. This year’s theme is #BikeThere to promote the everyday tasks accomplished on a bike. Norte’s Eats by Bike Week from May 17-21 exemplifies the #BikeThere credo while demonstrating the purchasing power of those who bike for everyday tasks.

To make the most out of Bike Month, Norte offers the following reminders.

  • Give your bike a tune-up and get in early as local bike shops get busy quickly.
  • Obey the rules of the road and ride with respect for others. We’re all in this together.
  • Make sure your bike has working lights. You never know when you’ll need them.

For a complete list of activities for Northern Michigan Bike Month, visit Norte’s website at elgruponorte.org. On their website, you can also peruse Norte’s Wall of Champions, a list of businesses that support the organization with donations.

Download your Eats by Bike Week Bongo card and #BikeThere (PDF)



Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) strongly recommends continued effort to stop the spread. The following steps need to be taken together for the best protection.
  • Health Check – Self-monitor and stay home if you’re feeling sick.
  • Wear a mask – Take it off when you eat or drink, then put it back on, even outside.
  • Physically Distanced – Keep six feet apart as much as you can.
  • Wash Hands – Wash hands regularly. 20 seconds with soap and water.

Norte also supports socializing outside in well-ventilated areas and getting a vaccine as soon as available.  If we all work together, we will beat this pandemic.

Bike There—Adventure and Empowerment Await

Bike There

Adventure and Empowerment Await

I don’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t have a bicycle. I also don’t remember anyone teaching me how to ride. My older brothers and sisters must have taught me, but I suspect their pedagogical method was along the lines of, “Keep up or stay behind.” In reality, they probably ditched me often. But the way I remember it, I not only kept up with them, I bravely struck out on my own and left them in the dust.

That’s the power of the bicycle. It’s a machine like no other. It can transform a mere mortal into an uber-efficient, supremely balanced, go-anywhere supernova. The bicycle is empowerment. It is independence. It is freedom.

Many of the most important life lessons I’ve learned I learned while riding my bike. I was a typical Generation X latchkey child. Adult supervision wasn’t something I had to worry much about. For the most part, our neighborhood’s pack of kids was left to their own devices, roving from house to house searching for food and following our curiosities that expanded outward from the subdivision as we grew older.

Having a functional bicycle was a ticket to a larger world full of adventure. When I was about eight, I was inspired by a calling from deep within: a calling for candy that could only be sourced two miles down the road at Lake Ann Grocery.

I remember coming to the end of my subdivision where the quiet street meets the county road, stopping to contemplate my options, and then gunning it. Up the big hill, along the straightaway, and past long stretches that, back then, were only woods. It was much farther than I expected it to be. Passing cars were a welcome relief; they might be able to save me from the bears I was sure were going to come out of the woods at any moment. The fear of wild animals pushed me, and the temptation of that candy bar pulled me to remarkably high speeds, given that I was an eight-year-old on a makeshift single-speed with a banana seat.

I was relieved to roll into the bustling village of Lake Ann. I sat in the park and enjoyed my Whatchamacallit before heading home. However ill-advised by today’s safety standards, that trip was an early lesson in perseverance and determination. I struck out on my own to pursue my goals, overcame my fears and physical limitations, and achieved my chocolatey aim. At the time, it felt like absolute freedom. It was also my little secret, and there is power in secrets.

As I grew more confident and upgraded to a 12-speed Ross Signature, I struck out farther. As a teenager, I regularly biked the 15 miles to Traverse City to hang with the city kids. I learned to climb the hills, using all my strength. I learned to ride fast and learned back roads to limit my exposure to traffic. A few years later, the bicycle remained my go-to transportation choice throughout college and allowed me to save money quickly without owning a car. I had a ticket to ride.

The pushie crew at Minuteman Messenger in Melbourne, Australia, 1997

After graduation, the bicycle became my livelihood for a year abroad. I landed in Australia with $300 and a work visa good for one year. In two weeks, after stretching the truth about how well I knew Melbourne’s streets, I landed work subcontracting as a bicycle messenger—a pushie.

Still, today, delivering express packages by bike remains one of the most empowering jobs I ever had, and it introduced me to new people every day, from CEOs on the 55th floor to co-workers struggling with addictions and families to feed. We even had a retired CEO join our crew. He was slow, so we gave him the dregs. I was able to pay off a modest student loan with my earnings and head to China. Thanks, bicycle.

This is all to say: May is National Bike Month, a time to celebrate the elegance, value, and gift of the bicycle. Established in 1956 by The Bicycle Institute of America, National Bike Month showcases the benefits of human-powered movement by bike and encourages everyone to give it a try. For me, bike month is a chance to reflect on the riches I have enjoyed thanks to this handy, accessible, and equitable tool.

How are you celebrating Northern Michigan Bike Month? And, what’s your story? Do you remember your first destination by bicycle? Your first time out alone? Please share with us on social media or send me an email. I’d love to hear how the bicycle has impacted your life.

Bike There!

Advocacy and Communications Director

Top image: The Walkway over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, New York 📸 kriosusa

*A version of this column was original published in the Northern Express. 

P.S. Coming up for Bike Month, tonight’s Ride of Silence, this weekend’s  24 Hours at the Civic Center, and next week’s Eats by Bike Week—get your bingo sheet for the latter and the #BikeThere

2021 Bike Month Poster

Download your Mike Erway Design poster for Bike Month.

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Celebrate Northern Michigan Bike Month

Celebrate Northern Michigan Bike Month

During May, Norte has almost daily activities to encourage more people to go outside and roll with the organization’s spin on National Bike Month. Join us, #BikeThere

With spring in the air and the snow finally at an end, Norte invites individuals in Northern Michigan to experience the joy of getting out for a bike ride. Norte‘s Executive Director, Ty Schmidt, urges everyone to lean into Bike Month and try riding a bike for everyday tasks.

“Every day, people across the globe, many of them right here in Michigan, prove daily that the bicycle remains one of the most efficient, accessible, convenient, and safe ways to stay active and get things done,” said Schmidt. “I hope folks use Bike Month to develop a habit of biking to school or work, running to the store, going to the dentist, or getting their vaccination. Bikes are an expression of freedom.”

Norte‘s May calendar is rolling with opportunities for families to participate at all skill levels and confidence. The month kicks off on Sunday, May 2, with the annual Previously Loved Bicycle Neighborhood Yard Sale. This event runs from 11 am–2 pm outside at the Norte Wheelhouse in the Grand Traverse County Civic Center. Norte will have donated bikes for sale, and for $10, individuals may sell their own.

“If you don’t have a bike, don’t let that stop you from experiencing Bike Month,” said Schmidt. “The yard sale is a great opportunity to find a perfect bike to keep you rolling throughout the summer, into fall, and beyond.”

2021 Bike Month PosterClick for the 2021 Bike Month poster (PDF)

Other highlights of the Bike Month include Bike to School Day on May 5, Take a Mom Mountain Biking on May 9, and 24 Hours at the Civic Center from noon on Saturday, May 15 to noon on Sunday, May 16. The latter is what Schmidt calls a “move-a-thon,” where individuals pledge to walk, run, or roll around the one-mile long Civic Center track for 30 minutes out of 24 hours. Participants pledge $20 and encourage others to donate to their cause. The funds raised are invested back into Norte‘s youth programming and improvements at the Civic Center.

Bike Month began in 1956 by The League of American Bicyclists to put on display the many benefits of bicycling and encourage others to get rolling. This year’s theme is #BikeThere to promote the everyday tasks accomplished on a bike. #BikeThere is exemplified by Norte with Eats by Bike Week from May 18-21. Norte will provide a bingo card of local restaurants and encourage individuals to visit as many of them as possible while wearing their orange Norte gear and, of course, arriving by bicycle.

To make the most out of Bike Month, Norte offers the following reminders.

  • Give your bike a tune-up and get in early as local bike shops get busy quickly.
  • Obey the rules of the road and ride with respect for others. We’re all in this together.
  • Make sure your bike has working lights. You never know when you’ll need them.



Let’s Roll! 



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Ready for Spring, Ready to Roll

Ready for Spring, Ready to Roll

Ben Boyce previews the Previously Loved Bicycle Neighborhood Yard Sale happening Sunday, May 2.

Right now, Norte‘s volunteer mechanics are busy fixing up used bikes for spring. They turn more donated bicycles into ready-to-ride bikes for our bike libraryEssential, and to sell every day. The money raised through our used bike sales supports Norte‘s busy season ahead.

This Sunday, May 2, we take that experience to another level with the annual Previously Loved Bicycle Neighborhood Yard Sale. Our goal, to be honest, is to clean out the Wheelhouse and make way for another year of bikes, programs, and adventures. It’s also a great way to jump-start Northern Michigan Bike Month.

The yard sale is an excellent time to repurpose an old bike — or two — and get rolling. We sell used bikes of all ages, types, and sizes, including many that are not-all-that-used. We will also have a few fixer-uppers priced to move, in addition to bike accessories that we have accumulated over the year—need a used car rack?

We also invite the public to clean out their garage and sell a used bike themselves. Individuals are invited to sell their bike or bike accessory for a small table fee of $10.

If you needed another reason to visit Norte this weekend, it might be your first chance to meet our newest staff member and proud Wheelhouse Manager, John Deely. John has big plans for the Wheelhouse, and coincidentally, his plans require more room, so the yard sale is perfectly timed.

With John at the helm, the Grand Traverse region can look forward to a new and improved Norte Wheelhouse. A more organized, useable space will help us grow our youth and adult programs, increase Norte‘s volunteer base, and grow the Community Bike Shop. All helping build a happy, healthy, strong community.

Help Norte spread the bike love and find your new favorite bike thing at the Previously Loved Bicycle Neighborhood Yard Sale.

Let’s roll!

Ben, Program Director

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24 Hours for Our Favorite Place

24 Hours for Our Favorite Place

Moving Norte from the Schmidt Family Garage to the Grand Traverse County Civic Center in 2017 wasn’t my idea. However, looking back, it’s proved to be one of Norte‘s best and wisest decisions—thank you for the nudge, Ashlea.

Right in the hub of Northern Michigan, this active and thriving park has provided nothing but good fortune to Team Orange. In return, I firmly believe our presence has brought renewed energy, interest, and activity to the Civic Center. There’s a vibrancy nowadays at both the south and north end, home to the Norte Clubhouse and the very orange Wheelhouse, respectively.

From these doors, we continue to roll out transformative programs for hundreds of young riders and families. We provide community services like the Community Bike Shop and sling bikes through the Kids’ Bike Library. We plan to keep this up for years to come; we also plan to invest in this home. As we’ve highlighted before, we will soon build a world-class pump track, and we’re working towards a new Education Center. To do so within the boundaries of this fabulous park would be a dream come true.

24 Hours at Civic Center Title Sponsor Logo

Register Today

That’s where 24 Hours at the Civic Center comes in. The event began as a mash-up of Eastern Elementary’s Jog-a-thon and the American Cancer Association, Relay For Life. Norte‘s 24 Hours at the Civic Center celebrates one of my favorite features here—the loop—while helping folks meet their movement goals and raise funds for both Norte and the Grand Traverse County Civic Center.

The idea is simple. Pledge a 30-minute time slot over 24 hours to walk, roll, skip, or generally move around the one-mile track. Enlist friends and family not only to consider joining you but to support your effort financially. The money raised will be invested back into Norte and improvements at the Civic Center.

We have big plans at NorteJoin us beginning at noon on Saturday, May 15 to noon on Sunday, May 16, to celebrate this bright future at the Civic Center. Visit 24 Hours at the Civic Center for the details and to register.

Let’s roll!

Ty Schmidt, Executive Director




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Board of Directors: April Meeting Minutes

Board of Directors: April Meeting Minutes

Recently, Norte’s Board of Directors approved the publishing of minutes after each meeting, beginning with April 13, 2021.  As minutes are published, they will be archived at Our Governance. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@elgruponorte.org.


To view, click through to full-screen view in the frame below.

Walking and Rolling, Safely into Spring 😷

Walking and Rolling, Safely into Spring 😷

Last month, as I walked into the Hagerty Center in Traverse City, a sense of community spirit swept over me. It was not just exciting to see people; it was inspiring to experience citizenship. We’d gathered not only to protect ourselves but out of civic responsibility to protect our community from COVID-19. A vaccination needle never felt so good. I trust that we’re finally in the homestretch of this pandemic.

But we’re not quite there yet. In the race between the coronavirus’s variants and collective immunity, the variants are in the lead. Northern Michigan remains at extremely high risk. Our positivity rates remain in double figures, and hospitalization rates hover near capacity. Michigan is again leading the nation in cases with alarming weekly trends.

Thankfully, we continue to learn more about how to contain this virus every day. We know so much more than we did a year ago about which preventive measures work. Those measures are now daily habits. As Norte enters spring programming, we will continue to implement these precautions to protect Norte staff, our young riders, volunteers, and the wider community.

We ask everyone to stick to the swiss cheese approach. Recognize that each protective action you take is another layer of prevention. Even after vaccination, these precautions are necessary to stop the spread and to stop further mutations. All of us need to stay vigilant and patient as people get vaccinated, and case numbers decline.

We continue to monitor the data and place public health front and center. We’re limiting access to the inside of our buildings, requiring masks for all visitors, and encouraging everyone to become vaccinated. We require masks from start to finish for our bike programs and events and will continue to social distance, wash our hands, and monitor our health. If you have a child in our programs, please help us by going over the rules with them using our COVID-19 Precaution Sheet.

We’re going to get through this challenge, and we’re going to continue to thrive. And, it starts with all of us putting our civic pride on full display. Let’s keep rolling, friends.

Together we can #stopthespread.

Gary, Advocacy and Communications Director

P.S. Please follow the latest CDC guidelines and keep abreast of Michigan’s latest data and information at the state’s coronavirus portal. Learn more about the vaccines and where you can get your free shot at COVID-19 Vaccine



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Board of Directors: March Meeting Minutes

Board of Directors: March Meeting Minutes

Recently, Norte’s Board of Directors approved the publishing of minutes after each meeting, beginning with March 9, 2021.  As minutes are published, they will be archived at Our Governance. If you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at hello@elgruponorte.org.


To view, click through to full-screen view in the frame below.