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 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 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.

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! 



Safe and Responsible

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


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

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


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

Attracted by a Desire to Help

Jessie Williams in the Norte Clubhouse

Last January, I decisively told myself that I didn’t know what I would do for Summer 2020. This is definitively unlike me. I’m someone who maintains a spreadsheet of my plans through the next four years. As it turns out, even if I had made plans for last summer, they likely would have been canceled.  Like many college students last spring, I unexpectedly found myself at home taking Zoom classes.

As the pandemic grew larger and summer approached, I knew I wanted to do something as impactful as my job as a Resident Advisor on campus. I needed something that tangibly helped people during the challenges of 2020. Then, I saw a listing for an AmeriCorps VISTA hosted through United Way.

I’d previously heard about AmeriCorps through my friend Eva, who spent a year in Petrolia, California, as a VISTA. Her work seemed similar to what I missed about my work as an RA — planning ways to help people, encourage healthy behaviors, and positively change the community around me. From my first chats with Ranae McCauley of United Way and Ty, I knew and hoped that Norte was the place for me to spend my summer helping people do the most good.

I had some prior experience with Norte, which isn’t typically the case for everyone considering being a VISTA. As a Traverse City native, I’d used Norte’s Very Orange bike racks more times than I could count. I’d also always noticed that everywhere something remarkable was going on, Norte was a part of it. There were bike valets at Concerts on the Lawn, and a rainbow-colored Slow Roll at Pride Week. All my favorite businesses happened to be Norte Business Champions. This was promising. 

As an Environment major, I was 100% on board for helping Norte with the radical and important work of teaching future generations a zero-emissions way to get around their community — and how to do so on their own two feet. I’d learned my way around Traverse City by walking and biking it, but not every student had that same opportunity.

When I started as a VISTA, I was introduced to Summer Bike Camp’s excitement and commotion, along with the Grand Traverse Regional Kids’ Bike Library. The Bike Library was a project that directly fit my interests. I would be recycling bikes between kids to get them moving in a way that fits their needs, their families’ resources aside.

Through my daily work with the Bike Library, I’ve met many incredible people, colleagues, and patrons. While developing my database management and project management skills, I learned how to determine relevant metrics and design tracking systems that were simple and user-friendly. My experience sending out and analyzing survey results from both the Bike Library and Summer Bike Camp has made me feel one step ahead of my upcoming senior thesis project, with real-world surveying already under my belt.

More than the academic skills I took away from my Norte VISTA experience, I’ve appreciated the overwhelming and astounding positivity of Norte as a work environment and as an organization. I’ll never forget some of the moments from my summer as a VISTA. I witnessed tears of joy when I was able to find a green bike for a young boy. I walked in on a Summer Bike Camp team, making up a cheer for the fun of it. I shared a young rider’s first jubilant pedal away from the Wheelhouse on a “New Bike Day.”

Lastly, being a Norte VISTA changed the way I view the community around me. I take more notice of my commutes that had previously been more destination-oriented than memorable. I’ve realized that I’m in the minority by having sidewalks and bike lanes to keep me protected where I most frequently travel. It also brings the biggest smile to my face when I see kids and their guardians riding or walking together. I can’t help but wonder if I’ll see them in a Norte program soon.

If you’re like me a year ago, thinking about what you want to get up to this coming summer, consider becoming an Americorps VISTA for Norte. It’s an opportunity to do much more than ride bikes — though you’ll definitely have that opportunity. As a VISTA for Norte, you’ll have a chance to learn new skills, witness greatness,  and connect with a community of people striving for happy, healthy, strong for all. 


Email Jessie if you want to learn more about being a VISTA for Norte


In addition to VISTA opportunities, Norte has several opportunities to join Team Orange open. Currently, we’re seeking a year-round, part-time Bike Mechanic. The right candidate will manage the Grand Traverse Regional Kids’ Bike Library, Community Bike Shop at the Clubhouse, and Essential transportation program. We’re also looking for seasonal staff and coaches, including Youth Mountain Bike Team Coaches, Adventure Bike Club Coaches, Summer Bike Camp Coaches.

Finally, we need volunteer assistant coaches for Mountain Bike TeamBikes for All, and ABC. These positions are an excellent fit for individuals looking to build some coaching skills before taking on a team of their own in the future. We can start you as a volunteer for as little as one day a week.

Safe and Responsible


Meet the Newest Members to Team Orange

Donor Relations Specialist Wes Sovis

Norte recently welcomed Wes Sovis to the Norte Staff as their Donor Relations Specialist. The youth-focused organization also added three new members to the Board of Directors, Jim Witte, Sue Paul, and Eric Mannix.

As Donor Relations Specialist, Sovis will manage fundraising and engagement activities supporting Norte’s youth programs, community outreach, and advocacy. His marketing and communications experience will fortify Norte’s foundation as it experiences rapid growth across the region.

“I’m thrilled to help Norte bring the benefits of bicycles, active lifestyles, and a more connected community to Northern Michigan,” said Sovis. “I hope to support our team so that we can be more efficient as fundraisers, develop more meaningful relationships with our donors, and, ultimately, have a bigger impact on the lives of thousands of people in our region.”

Q+M Agency formerly employed Sovis as an Account Executive. He was also the Digital Communications Manager for the Michigan Society of Association Executives.


2021 New Board Members, Jim Witte, Eric Mannix, and Sue Paul

Norte’s newest board members, from left to right, Jim Witte, Sue Paul, and an exhausted Eric Mannix.


In addition to staff growth, Norte recently welcomed three new board members. Eric Mannix of Traverse City, Jim Witte of Elk Rapids, and Sue Paul of Pennisula Township joined Norte’s Board of Directors at the February meeting. Directors serve three-year terms.

“I believe that it is an incredible achievement what Norte has accomplished in a very short time,” said Witte. “The Norte model is well-positioned to replicate and diversify in many areas. Developing specific and strategic plans for project and product implementation is an area that I have helped business clients achieve. I believe I can offer some of that same thinking for Norte initiatives.”

Norte’s Board of Directors adopted a two-year strategic plan in 2020, focusing on four primary areas for advancement:

  1. Active for Life Kids
  2. Happy, Healthy, Strong Communities
  3. Grassroots Advocacy
  4. A Leveled-Up Team Orange

The organization’s specific focus over the next two years is happy, healthy, strong initiatives for everyone. New board members will help guide accessibility, equity, and inclusion efforts for Norte programs and governing.

“As the mother of a special needs daughter, I’m thrilled to know Norte is working to accommodate and include this segment of our community,” said Paul. “I think my family’s personal experience, along with my training as an occupational therapist, can be beneficial to this organization.”

Mannix may be a new board member, but he’s no stranger to Norte. On June 27, 2020, he raised over $3,000 to put more kids on bikes in Eric’s Heavy Ride. On that day, Mannix biked over 100 miles and climbed over 11,000 feet in elevation on the Vasa Trails. He brings that same proactive, high energy to the board.

“I see Norte evolving more and more towards active–for–life and healthy lifestyle advocacy,” said Mannix. “While I believe the connection of Norte and bicycles will remain, Norte is striving to achieve its reach to attract more than just people on bikes. I see Norte reaching the young and old and inspiring them to be their best active self. I want to contribute to making that impact thoughtfully and expeditiously.”

Safe and Responsible

Summer Internships at Norte

A summer summer intern smiling.

We’re seeking 2021 Summer Interns to join Team Orange. We have both paid and unpaid, full and part-time internships available. 

Submit Applications by 5 pm, February 28, 2021

Do you have a passion for healthy, happy, and strong active living? Interested in what it’s like to work in the nonprofit field?

Applications at Norte are open now for summer internships and one AmeriCorps VISTA spot. We offer one paid internship and internships for college credit, depending on what best meets your needs.

We’re looking for enthusiastic community advocates who are good with kids and ready to roll into our busy summer camp season. Learn more and apply today at:

Norte Summer Internships


Happy healthy Strong

Registration Open For Norte’s 2020 Explore Academy

Norte’s Explore Academy once  again invites teens to learn and use their voice to shape their community.

Norte’s advocacy program is again offering teens a unique opportunity to explore their community and develop their own voice in shaping it. The Explore Academy is a six-week, student-informed practical course featuring an experiential understanding of how communities are planned, built, and changed over time.

“Explore is an excellent opportunity for teenagers to step out into the community and develop not only their understanding of how the community works – or doesn’t work – but also develop their voices and skills to work towards making the positive changes they see that are needed,” said Norte Advocacy Director, Gary Howe. Howe once again is teaming up with the owner of Parallel Solutions, Megan Olds, to facilitate the fall program.

Norte’s Explore Academy is open to all 13 to 18-year-olds interested in community leadership, planning, and development. Students will graduate with a heightened understanding of decision-making processes and advanced observational and communication skills. This year’s interactive sessions will be held online and include frequent break out sessions. Guest speakers will offer expertise and insight as students develop their interests. Last year’s session featured TART Trails Executive Director, Julie Clark, and BATA’s Transportation Planner and Planning Commissioner, Tyler Bevier. Some of the class meetups will be in-person physically distanced walking conversations—masks required for safety.

“In light of an ongoing public health crisis, continued community protests and marches, coastal flooding, wildfires, and against the backdrop of a national election, this year’s program is primed for some deep exploration and conversations focused on how design, policies, and investments in places impact and are impacted by these conditions,” said Olds. “I’m looking forward to hearing students’ thoughts and observations about whom and what they see impacted, how decisions are made, and what types of design and investments they feel matter most and why.”

The program’s weekly meetups begin September 28 and meet on Mondays from 4:30 to 5:30. The six sessions include an additional four-weeks of independent teamwork. The program costs $35 per participant, with plenty of scholarships available.   The 2020 Explore Academy is underwritten by the Traverse Area Association of REALTORS® (TAAR) and a Smart Growth Grant from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The Norte advocacy training program introduces teenagers to smart growth principles through its hands-on, active curriculum. Children of TAAR members are eligible for free registration.

“We’re excited to have the support of TAAR and their national partner, NAR. Their support allows us to offer an adaptable curriculum to more students by virtually eliminating any financial burden,” said Howe. “In response to the pandemic, we’ve needed to adapt the structure of the course, but not the key goals. Explore remains an engaging exploration of the neighborhoods of the Grand Traverse Region while doing our part to keep everyone safe, healthy, and to stop the spread of the coronavirus.”

For more information and to register for Norte’s 2020 Explore Academy, please visit: Norte Explore Academy.

If you have questions about the program and for scholarship information, please contact Gary Howe at

If you’d like to make a $35 donation to sponsor a student, please go to

# # #
Norte | Happy. Healthy. Strong.  

Program Facilitators  

Megan Olds has dedicated her 20-year career to community growth and development, land and water conservation and restoration, food and farming systems, housing, transportation, and access to nature and outdoor recreation. She was a former Director of Regional Planning at Networks Northwest and served as a past board member of the Michigan Association of Planning and Michigan’s Complete Streets Advisory Council. She worked for seven years as the Associate Director and Director of Development for the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. Pairing her professional experience in community and organizational development with a personal zeal for building trust and clarity in decision-making, Megan founded Parallel Solutions in 2014. You can find out more about her firm’s services, clients, and recent projects at

Gary Howe brings over ten years of direct experience in creating and advocating for public policy and planning processes that support healthy transportation and socially-engaging public spaces to his role as Norte’s Advocacy Director. He served as a City Commissioner for the City of Traverse City from 2013-2017, in addition to serving on the Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission, and on the boards of Neahtawanta Center, SEEDS, and International Affairs Forum. He is also a writer and New York Times-published photographer with over 20 years of teaching experience in China, Taiwan, and Traverse City, including 15 years as an adjunct instructor at Northwestern Michigan College.

Kids + Bikes = Happy


Some fresh Norte! eNews is up. And it’s good. Read it HERE.