Changing the odds in favor of more happy, active-for-life kids in the Grand Traverse Region

This column originally appeared in the Traverse City Record-Eagle on March 12, 2020.

In case you missed it, the City of Traverse City was just announced as a finalist for the 2020 Michigan Governor’s Fitness Award in the “Active Community” category for its recent Safe Routes To School efforts to increase healthy action transportation-centered access to schools across our town. An inspirational $2M investment around Traverse City’s 10 in-town schools is on track for construction this year. Even if we don’t beat out City of Kalamazoo and City of Mackinac Island for the honor, being in the top three in the state this year is a big deal that deserves many high fives.

It’s not exactly news that Traverse City is an active town. With our many runners, walkers, bikers, skiers, hikers, and swimmers, we see this on display daily year ‘round, but what I’m really excited about is the recent investment in the health of our young people.

From more sidewalks and safer crosswalks around neighborhood schools to creating more engaging-for-all-ages art in public places to new and improved neighborhood parks including Hickory Hills, I love that Traverse City is making it safe and fun for kids and their friends to play and explore independently.

By making outside easier–the obvious and irresistible choice–we’re nudging the system away from a culture of screens, the coach, and mom the unpaid Uber driver to a culture of happy, healthy, and independent active-for-life kids.

  • Kids like Tripp who’s biked to Eastern Elementary every day this school year.
  • Kids like Moses who I saw skateboarding by the bay with his buddies last Sunday when it was in the 50s.
  • Kids like Mae and Wren who embraced skating on their neighborhood rink off of 14th Street.
  • Kids like my son, Jameson, who lives at the Civic Center skatepark with his crew even in March.
  • Kids like Kira who walks to take the Bayline to Greenspire School every day.
  • Kids like Parker who go down on wide skies very fast at Hickory.
  • And kids like Will who go up on skinny skis very fast at Hickory.

When we see kids like these in our town, we know we’re doing something right. Much like the trout in a stream tells us the habitat is healthy. It’s the same way with kids in a town. They’re an indicator species of a strong, vibrant town. Outside kids are healthier, happier kids which is the foundation of an active community. Today, and tomorrow.

By dreaming big, thinking differently, and intentionally disrupting the status quo of childhood obesity, anxiety and depression by design, we’ll continue to change the odds in favor of more – lots more! – happy, active-for-life kids.

In the not so distant future, Traverse City won’t just be the most active town in Michigan, but the most active town in America.

Let’s keep it rolling.

Stay Home. Stay Safe. Stay Active, Responsibly


Outside is not canceled. It has been deemed essential. 

To navigate our way through this and come out with a stronger community, staying active, staying healthy, staying responsible is our challenge. Norte programs empower everyone to make outdoor activities part of our everyday lives. Now is the time, like no other, to put that into practice. Get out solo. Explore the area around your home with your family unit. You can wave to your friends from opposite sides of the street.

Importantly, stay active responsibly. The Stay Home, Stay Safe order by Governor Gretchen Whitmer is not a suggestion, it is an order. Thankfully, it recognizes that working out the kinks and stretching our legs is essential. 

Physical Distancing, Social Solidarity

During this time, we must also maintain the social support networks we have, even if that means, for the time being, focusing on timely Facebook shout outs, friendly text messages, and calls, virtual meet-ups, and shouts across the street to a neighbor on their porch. Social distancing is the chosen public health term, and we can honor it with physical distancing and social solidarity. With that in mind, we will be adding activities to the list below to help keep us busy. 

Healthy, Safe, Fun Things To Do:


Stay Home. Stay Safe. Stay Active, Responsibly.  We’ll get through this together.  We encourage everyone to follow the State’s COVID19 Website and Grand Traverse County COVID19 for continued updates to all CDC recommendations and information. 

A special shout out to those on the front lines at Munson Healthcare – Thank you! They are in dire need of community support. Please click through to see if there’s something you can do. They need donations and medical supplies.

Once things return to normal, we’ll have way more fun things to do, promise. Stay up to date and involved.



Outside Still Not Canceled: A Refreshed 20 Mile Family Walk Challenge Continues With Stretch Goals, School Competition and More Kindness

With in-person school canceled and being active as a family unit more critical than ever, the 20 Mile Family Walk Challenge – inspired Mark Wilson’s very successful 100 Mile Walk – aims to raise awareness for happy, healthy, strong families during these uncertain times.


  1. Commit – Complete the form below. If you’re taking part in our virtual “School Competition” – area elementary schools competing in a not so serious way – please select that option.
  2. Sign up – Join the 20 Mile Walk Club HERE to track your progress (Strava is a free mobile fitness tracking app).
  3. Walk – Outside where you are, when you can with your family at least 1 mile a day for 20 days.
  4. Be Kind – Commit to spreading kindness at least once. Think: sidewalk or driveway chalk art, picking up trash, delivering a positive letter to a friend or neighbor etc. Get creative!
  5. Celebrate – Because outside isn’t canceled, let’s celebrate the outdoors by walking at least one mile per day with our families. BONUS! Our friends at Moomer’s Homemade Ice Cream will provide a $5 gift certificate to every family who completes the challenge. Side note: have you tried Norte’s custom Moomer’s ice cream, OrangeCycle, yet? It’s deeeeelicious. 

**4/6/2020 UPDATE**

For those of you awesome folks who started this challenge in March and have already made it to 20 miles, let’s keep it going through April, OK?! You have two stretch goal options from which to choose:

  • Orange Challenge – 2 miles a day through April for a total of 68 miles
  • Blue Challenge – 1 mile a day through April for a total of 44 miles

Let us know which one you’re doing by posting your favorite photo from the original challenge with “Orange” or “Blue” to your favorite social media channel and tag Norte.


  • The 20 Mile Walk is both free and awesome. Physical distancing is a better term than social distancing. Explore your neighborhood or a trail in the woods with those closest to you, but responsibly at least 6 feet apart from other folks.
  • If you don’t have Strava on your phone, download the app, create an account, search for the “20 Mile Walk” club, and then join it. Each time you head out for a walk, hit start in the app and stop when you finish. Super easy. [If you forget, or don’t enough data to keep it on the whole time you’re out, you can also manually log your activity at a later point. Check out this Strava how-to.]
  • We want everyone to avoid cabin fever, so only outside walks count for the challenge.  Sorry, treadmills.


Stay Home. Stay Safe. Stay Active, Responsibly.

When you do have to leave home, please follow these preventive measures for viruses by public health officials.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not unavailable, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others.
  • Stay at least six feet away from others when in a public setting.
  • Replace handshakes and high-fives with a friendly wave from at least six feet away.

Visit the for the latest statewide updates.

Happy, Healthy, Strong Communities by Design

The happy, healthy, strong community provides dignified accessibility for everyone. When we cross the street, we don’t need to run or play “Frogger.” When the family gathers after a day at work and school, the 10-year-old leads the way with confidence to the ice cream shop. On the way home, the family swings by the park and stays ‘til dark visiting with neighbors.

The happy, healthy, strong community is built on top of equitable policies set in school administrative buildings, city and township halls, and conference rooms. Decisions are considered in the abundance created by collaboration and creativity, rather than in the vacuum of short term budget constraints and scarcity mindset. Policymakers strive to understand the cascading impacts of their decisions on health, equity, and connections. The result is safer, more active places where we come together by design. Everyone feels valued, everyone is celebrated, and everyone is encouraged to realize their full potential.

The happy, healthy, strong community is what Norte celebrates, envisions, and works to create and maintain. It is the fundamental metric by which we measure our daily work. Our success is measured by the number of smiles generated in community slow rolls, summer camps, and balance bike meet-ups. We see Norte’s impact when citizen advocates engage and represent their community with confidence and clear voices. We revel in the story of the person inspired to walk to work by all the people on bikes and foot around town in their bright orange hats. And, then inspire their co-workers to join them.

The happy, healthy, strong community isn’t a dream–we see expressions of it every day. Our task at Norte and across northern Michigan is to advance these experiences, celebrate them, advocate for them, and make them the foundation of our work. The happy, healthy, strong community is by design.

This essay by Gary Howe first appeared in Norte’s very first Annual Report.

Read the report online or download a PDF version below.

Download “Norte's 2019 Annual Report” NorteAnnualReport2020-final.pdf – Downloaded 54 times – 25 MB

Stay Home. Stay Safe. Stay Active, Responsibly

Stay Home. Stay Safe. Stay Active, Responsibly

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order No 2020-21,” putting “Stay Home, Stay Safe” in effect until April 13. We encourage everyone to follow the State’s COVID19 Website and Grand Traverse County COVID19 for continued updates to all CDC recommendations and information. 

We want to highlight section 7.a.1 of the Governor’s order. It states we may leave our homes “to engage in outdoor activity, including walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household.” 

Outside is not canceled. It has been deemed essential. 

To navigate our way through this and come out with a stronger community, staying active, staying healthy, staying responsible is our challenge. Norte programs empower everyone to make outdoor activities part of our every day lives. Now is the time, like no other, to put that into practice. Get out solo. Explore the area around your home with your family unit. You can wave to your friends from opposite sides of the street.

Importantly, stay active responsibly. The Stay Home, Stay Safe order by Governor Gretchen Whitmer is not a suggestion, it is an order. Thankfully, it recognizes that working out the kinks and stretching our legs is essential. 

Physical Distancing, Social Solidarity

During this time, we must also maintain the social support networks we have, even if that means, for the time being, it focuses on timely Facebook shout outs, friendly text messages and calls, and shouts across the street to a neighbor on their porch. Social distancing is the chosen public health term, and we can honor it with physical distancing and social solidarity. 

For those who can, supporting our local businesses that remain open during is a powerful show of solidarity and will keep you energized. Here is a list of our Business Champions still open.  Many of them deliver – reduce the number of people out and about, take them up on it! 

Check their websites or call in advance. And for a broader range of businesses, here are lists published by Traverse City TourismDowntown Traverse City Association, and Elk Rapids DDA. The Village of NorthportVillage of Suttons Bay, and Downtown Kalkaska are also sources for local updates.  

Please peruse all of our Business Champions, many of whom will play particular roles in the eventual recovery. None more so than the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, which is seeking donations for its Urgent Needs Fund. These funds will assist vital regional services in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau Counties. 

And, a special shout out to those on the front lines at Munson Healthcare – Thank you! They are in dire need of community support. Please click through to see if there’s something you can do. They need donations and medical supplies.

For the time being, we are going to cloister ourselves. These actions are for the safety and health of the community. Those walls are going to close in, so find a motivator to keep you active and friends to keep you tuned into your social support group.

Be cautious. Stay away from places like playgrounds and things like doorknobs as much as you can, but get outside. Breathe. 

We’re in this together. Be strong. Be well. 


Stay Home. Stay Safe. Stay Active, Responsibly


Happy March! Norte’s Spring Programs are Right Around the Corner

Spring is on the horizon! Here are a few updates from your favorite Norte Program Director, Mr. Ben Boyce.

  1. Classes are available for Norte’s bike mechanics class series during spring break. 2 classes per day from March 27 through April 3 for most ages. Details and registration link here.
  2. Norte’s longest-running after school adventure-by-bike program, The Bike Más Project, returns in May to take 4th-7th graders on 90-minute bike adventures to learn smart biking skills. Small teams of 5 students leave right from school! Details and registration link here. 
  3. ​There are still some spots open for this spring’s Grand Traverse Region Youth Mountain Bike Team Program. New locations and team formats for the new year:    
  4. Does riding in the woods with your kid sound like a good time? We are looking for parent volunteers to help our youth mountain bike team coaches by riding as the team sweep for the back of the pack. There are LOTS of opportunities to help! Details, volunteer background check form, and sign up schedule all here!

It’s hard to NOT be excited for springtime after this warm weekend! Soon enough we’ll have dry pavement and fast dirt ready to welcome hundreds of eager tires for a spin. I hope you can join us!

– Ben

PS. More awesome news! We just opened up another session of summer bike camp the week of June 29th with full-day options thanks to our friends at Northwestern Michigan College For Kids and Traverse Area Community Sailing. Details and registration link HERE.

[Video] Winter Walk Wednesday With Tori Craig

Active Kids, Healthy Grand Traverse

The Center for Disease Control recently unveiled its Active People, Healthy Nation campaign to “help 27 million Americans become more physically active.” The campaign identifies eight evidence-based strategies that communities can implement to increase physical activity across sectors and settings.

We’re implementing six of these strategies right now here in the Grand Traverse Region: 

Strategy #1: Active Routes to Everyday Places

Norte’s Pro Walk/Pro Bike advocacy work is pushing for best practices, policies, design, and infrastructure to support activity-friendly routes to everyday places. Think…more sidewalks in Traverse Heights neighborhood, a proposed trail from 14th & Division to the Grand Traverse Commons as part of the Safe Routes To School project, a contraflow bike lane on 7th, a protected bike lane on 8th, and the pedestrian-activated lights on Grandview Parkway. These important changes improve access to make it safe and easy to walk, bicycle, or wheelchair roll for people of all ages and abilities by better connecting places like grocery stores, schools, worksites, libraries, parks, and health care facilities. 

Strategy #2: Access to Places for Physical Activity

By improving connection and access to the Grand Traverse County Civic Center (the conditionally approved Safe Routes To School infrastructure grant features improvements to Fair at Front, Fair, and 8th, a new sidewalk on West Civic Center Drive and an improved Washington & Garfield crosswalk) and value (Norte’s free Community Bike Shop at the Clubhouse and free Kids Bike Library at the Wheelhouse) to the park, we’re providing options and opportunities to make physical activity safer and more comfortable for people of all ages and abilities.

Our partnerships with the Grand Traverse County’s Bike Share, Winter Walk Wednesdays with Munson Medical Center, the Excellent Bike Parking Project and our Business Champion program are all ways we’re helping workplaces improve their employees’ health behavior, habits, motivation, and culture.

Strategy #3: School and Youth Programs

The Bike Mas Project, Estrellas balance bike program, youth mountain bike team, Summer Bike Camp, Amigos, bike train network and Park & Strolls are all examples of Norte’s engaging and impactful programs that increase physical activity before, during, and after school to help students get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

Strategy #4: Community-wide Campaigns

Our many community-wide campaigns including Winter Walks Wednesdays, the Kids vs Adults Smackdown, The Great Northern Michigan Shovel Experiment, Northern Michigan Walk/Bike To School Days, Winter Bike To Work + School Day, and Fridays Fantasticos, promote physical activity through collaboration along with engaging, multichannel messaging such as television, radio, newspaper columns, and social media to promote community-wide physical activity campaigns.

Strategy #5: Social Supports

Mark Wilson’s 100 Mile Walk, Vasa Domingos, Traverse City, and Elk Rapids social slow rolls, and our summertime meet-ups for preschoolers and kids with special needs are all examples of our inclusive and accessible programs that provide supportive social networks, friendships, and actions that help people start, maintain, or increase their physical activity levels.

 Strategy #6: Equitable and Inclusive Access

Thanks to many generous contributors, Norte’s robust Scholarship Fund allows kids to participate in our educational programming no matter their families’ circumstances. Equity goals are also achieved through our free Kids Library, free Community Bike Shop, and partnership with Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District’s Oak Park School, New Campus School and Life Skill Center.

We believe kids who learn to move and be physically active as part of ordinary life – like going to school or the park or the library or the beach – and then inspire their parents, teachers, principals, neighbors, community to do the same is a powerful means to sustainable well-living and healthfulness.

Learn more about our programs, events and community services.

Winter Walk Wednesday at Munson Medical Center



Winter Walk Wednesday on Barlow Street [Video]

Happy. Healthy. Strong: Norte’s 2019 in Twelve Numbers

Thanks to many, many awesome people, we continue to dream big: from one neighborhood bike train in 2013 to a thriving advocacy organization positively impacting Pro Walk/Pro Bike policy, systems, infrastructure, and healthy habits across the Grand Traverse region.

Here are 12 numbers from 2019 that we’re very proud of:

  • 5 COMMUNITIES: Traverse City area, Elk Rapids, Northport, Kalkaska, Suttons Bay
  • 242 VOLUNTEERSThe heart and soul of Norte and happy, healthy, strong communities
  • 2342 PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS: More – lots more! – kids and adults than ever impacted with lifelong skills
  • 780 DONORS: Kind and generous people who help Norte fulfill its mission
  • 271 COMMUNITY PARTNERS: We couldn’t do what we do without our valued relationships
  • 8 + 39 TEAM ORANGE: Core staff of eight and nearly forty awesome program coaches and instructors
  • 31 SCHOOLS: In-school and after school programs across the Grand Traverse region
  • 97 BUSINESS CHAMPIONS: Organizations who contribute $500+ annually to happy, healthy, strong communities
  • 182 YOUTH MOUNTAIN BIKERS: Michigan’s largest youth mountain bike team
  • 3 + 2 MORE WALKABLE TRAVERSE CITY: Our advocacy efforts help Traverse City build/fix three miles of sidewalk and embrace two new safer crosswalks on the Grandview Parkway
  • 36 CITIZEN ADVOCATES: Teens and adults engaged and activated through the Explore Academy and Advocacy Academy
  • 1 PROTECTED BIKE LANE: Norte helps advocate for Northern Michigan’s first protected bike lane on 8th Street in Traverse City

While 2019 rocked, we’re just getting started. We need your continued support to keep rolling into our highest and deepest impact year yet.

2020 is going to be very big for happy, healthy, strong communities as we have reached the tipping point to truly change the culture of health across the region. Join us today with a contribution big or small toward our Big Orange Promise Campaign. We’re all in this together.

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    Home Park Pride: Norte’s Year at the Grand Traverse Civic Center

    Home park pride! Norte is very proud to call the amazing Grand Traverse Civic Center home.

    Here are our 2019 highlights:

    • Presented “Parks, Schools, Kids, Bikes and a Transformed Culture of Health” with Kris Erickson at the 2019 mParks Conference in Kalamazoo
    • Provided next to free access to our community bike shop at the Clubhouse including sharing our tools, supplies, workbenches, and knowledge to park users
    • Hosted twice-weekly free public balance bike meet-ups for preschoolers on the grassy area next to the Clubhouse
    • Organized and put on the inaugural 24 Hours at the Civic Center which raised $1,560.25 for the park
    • Participated in the North Civic Center Master Plan process as a stakeholder and contributed $2,000 to the Pump Track + Traffic Garden design
    • Grew the Grand Traverse Kids Bike Library to 160 bikes at the Wheelhouse which allows awesome kids to come to the Wheelhouse to check out a bike for as long as it fits them. For free!
    • In partnership with Michigan Cares For Tourism, built a 48 piece wooden bicycle playground that is open for public use at both the Clubhouse and Wheelhouse
    • Received a $7,500 grant from People For Bikes for the Civic Center Traffic Garden + Pump Track
    • In partnership with Food Rescue, organized the 2nd Annual Cranksgiving Traverse City at the Wheelhouse, a bicycle-powered community food drive that supported 14 local food pantries
    • Hosted free weekly summer-time neighborhood bike fix meet-ups at the Clubhouse
    • In partnership with the Ironman Foundation, hosted the Great Traverse City Bike Giveaway at the Wheelhouse and gave away 80 bikes to families in need
    • Expanded our “Art in the Park” project by hanging “Miss Piggy”, an oil on canvas piece by Traverse High School students, on the south wall of the Clubhouse in January. We then replaced “Miss Piggy” who was on loan with a replica of Lindy Bishop’s “Our Piece of the Peaceable Kingdom” in May. This joins Chase Hunt’s “Stars” mural on the west side of the Wheelhouse as our two current “Art in the Park” pieces.
    • Supported the City of Traverse City with their conditionally approved $2M Safe Routes To School infrastructure grant which includes improvements near the park including a sidewalk on Civic Center Drive, Front & Fair intersection improvements, sidewalks on Fair Street, improved crosswalk at Garfield & Washington and a new Fair & 8th crosswalk
    • Organized Winter Walk Wednesdays, a weekly celebration of people – young and old – winter walking, and offered free coffee at the Clubhouse to Civic Center path walkers
    • Helped advocate for an in-street stop for pedestrian sign at Garfield & Washington to improve access and connection for pedestrians to the park
    • Provided a pop-up bike rack at Woodland School bus stop at the Civic Center to encourage students to “Bike 2 Bus”
    • Hosted educational field trips at the Wheelhouse for Eastern Elementary and The Children’s House schools
    • Hosted a series of educational bike mechanics classes for the young and young at heart at the Wheelhouse from fall through spring.
    • Participated in the Grand Traverse County’s Earth Day celebration at Howe Arena
    • Organized the Spring Open House for the Civic Center’s partners at the Wheelhouse 
    • Hosted two 4 week learn to ride programs at the Civic Center for students from Oak Park School 
    • Hosted two 4 week learn to ride programs at the Civic Center for students from TBAISD Life Skill Center
    • Hosted free weekly summertime meet-ups for kids with special needs
    • Provided additional bike parking for the Traverse City Roller Derby’s home bouts at Howe Arena
    • In partnership with the Traverse City Track Club, hosted a #OptOutside meet-up at the Civic Center which featured running on the new “shadow trail”
    • Ran the Traverse City Summer Bike Camp from the Wheelhouse which saw 230 kids from the 1st through 8th-grade start and finish in the park
    • The Wheelhouse is the home base for the Grand Traverse Regional Youth Mountain bike team, the largest youth mountain bike team in the state of Michigan

    We’re dreaming big in 2020 to stretch our arms wider to empower kids – and those who love them – to be active for life. Join us!



    Just (Winter) Walk, Northern Michigan

    This article originally appeared in the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

    One of the questions Tim Ferris asks in his book “Tribe of Mentors” is if you could put any message on a billboard, what would it be?

    For some reason, I find myself thinking about this a lot. “Always bring snacks.” (My mantra when my boys were small.) “Don’t forget the sunscreen.” (My dad died young of melanoma.) “Be kind.” (Google Ben’s Bells in Tucson, Arizona.) But if the powers that be would allow me to put up a giant billboard in the Open Space this weekend, it would read, “Just Walk, Traverse City.”

    You’re probably wondering, “But Ty, aren’t you supposed to be a bike guy? Shouldn’t it be, “Just Bike, Traverse City?” Nope. It’d be “Just Walk,” for sure.

    It’s true that I used to hate to walk anywhere. Took forever. Why walk when you could bike and get there three times faster?

    My views changed 18 years ago when I started working as a physical therapist. After treating pain and dysfunction that results from an inactive lifestyle, I became fully aware of how little we move as a society.

    Drive to work. Sit at work. Drive home. Sit on the couch. Repeat.

    As a young physical therapist, I used to prescribe elaborate and complicated home exercise programs. As time went on, I simplified things. Two or three exercises, some pain management techniques and walking. “Just walk,” I’d repeat to my patients.

    Why? Because walking is both easy and effective. Gyms cost money. Sports require equipment. The simple act of walking is convenient, free, sustainable (people tend to stick with it), and has many health benefits. They include reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes; improved blood pressure, blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels; decreased risk of obesity; improved mental well-being, energy, and stamina; and reduced risk of osteoporosis, breast cancer, and colon cancer.

    Here in Traverse City, we’re lucky to live in a place where walking as part of ordinary life — like going to the library or market or park or restaurant — is, for the most part, easy, safe and comfortable. While we definitely still have work to do regarding equity and fairness (think: Barlow Street), our connected sidewalk grid allows people to be active right outside their front door at home or work.

    With a $4.9 million bond to invest in more sidewalks for the Traverse Heights neighborhood, a more than $800,000 commitment to repair sidewalks in poor condition city-wide and a proposed $2 million Safe Routes To School grant that features nearly 5 miles of walk/bike-friendly infrastructure, our walkability is only going to improve in the coming years.

    Walking is simple. Walking is healthy. Walking is awesome. And walkability matters.

    So just walk, Traverse City. OK? Good for you. Good for me. Good for all of us.

    Ty Schmidt is a physical therapist, Canadian import from friendly Manitoba now proud Michigander and the executive director of Norte.




    Awesome People to Support More Kids On Bikes in the Grand Traverse Region for Giving Tuesday

    Our high impact Estrellas balance bike program is the focus of this year’s Giving Tuesday online campaign.

    We’ve created a very fun, very easy, very orange, very far reaching peer-to-peer fundraising campaign to support our ever-growing Estrellas needs now that we’re in 25+ schools across northern Michigan.

    We’re looking awesome people to raise $100 each to help the Estrellas shine. 

    Can we count on YOU to help us reach our goal to raise $3000 for Estrellas on December 3, 2019–Giving Tuesday?

    Getting started is easy!

    Simply email Ash at with “I’m in!” and we’ll get you hooked up with:

    • a very easy-to-use fundraising page
    • tips on sharing to your awesome network of friends and fans
    • support of Team Orange

    Don’t have time, but want to chip in toward our goal? Awesome. Text ESTRELLAS to 44-321 to donate now.

    Who’s already in:



    Happy, Healthy, Ready To Learn + Northern Michigan Walks To School Day

    With generous support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, TBA Credit UnionTraverse City Track Club, Sweet Pea, and Oryana Community Co-op,  Norte is excited to once again host Northern Michigan Walks To School Day, a community-wide, multi-school celebration of National Walk To School Day on Wednesday, October 2, 2019

    Nearly 1100 students from across Northern Michigan walked to school last year. Can we do better than that in 2019?

    We will also be crowning The Most Walk-tastic Northern Michigan School! That’s a big, big deal. Traverse Heights in Traverse City “won” last year. Help your school win the 2019 title by committing here:


    Everyone is welcome – Pre K through high school, as well as teachers, staff, and principals too.

    If you live too far from home, drive to one of our “Park & Stroll” locations below.

    A 5-10 minute walk to your bus stop totally counts too.

    Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE bikes but we enjoy walks to school too:

    • Walking to school is known to improve academic performance
    • Walking to school gives children good life experience
    • Walking to school gets children outdoors
    • Walking to school provides daily exercise for children

    So set those alarms a little earlier on October 2nd, eat a solid breakfast, invite a friend or 6, strap your backpack on and join us.

    Participating Schools:

    Don’t see your school? Sign it up HERE.

    Live too far from school to walk or maybe your school isn’t yet safe to walk to? No worries. You can still play:

    • Our Park & Stroll locations offer designated places to park and then walk 5-10 minutes to school with your child. Have an idea where a convenient, safe location and route could be? Let us know HERE.
    • Organize a short walk before the bell rings on campus like Cherryland Middle School in Elk Rapids.

    Norte will be transforming our community-wide network of bike trains into “walking school buses” for the day to connect our neighborhoods to our neighborhood elementary schools. We’re in need of more Walking School Bus “drivers” to lead. It’s both easy and fun! Promise. If interested email Abby at

    2019 Walking School Bus Schedule coming soon!

    Central Grade‘s “buses”:
    • Thirlby Stadium: 13th and Pine: Meet at 7:35, walking at 7:40. Bus driver – TBD
    •  Oryana: 10th/Lake: Meet at 7:35, walking at 7:40. Bus driver – Laura Otwell
    • Open Space: Parkway and Union: Meet at 7:35, walking at 7:40. Bus driver – Carrie Smith

    Cherryland Middle School:

    • Walk the track at school: 7:30-7:48. Bus driver – Ann DeVogel

    Courtade Elementary:

    • Walk on the track at school: At the bell. Bus driver – Mrs. Fetters

    Eastern Elementary:

    • Norte Wheelhouse: Meet at 8:25, walk at 8:30. Bus driver – Emily Buchholz
    • Clancy Park: Meet at 8:30. Walking at 8:35. Bus driver – Rebecca Sketch
    TCAPS Montessori @ Glenn Loomis’ “buses”:
    • 10th/Lake: Oryana: Meet at 7:35, walking at 7:40. Bus driver – Kaitlyn Burns
    • Division/14th: Tom’s: Meet at 7:40, walking at 7:55. Bus driver – Sarah Bourquin
    Immaculate Conception “bus”:
    • Darrow Park: Meet at 7:30, walking at 7:45. Bus driver – TBD

    Kalkaska “buses”:

    • TBD

    Lakeland Elementary:

    • River Walk Grill: Meet at 8:15, walking at 8:20. Bus driver – Becky Travis
    • Elk Rapids Apartments: Meet at 7:50, walking at 7:55. Bus driver – Stephen McDonald
    • Corner of 2nd and Pine: Meet at 8:00, walking at 8:05. Bus driver – David West
    Northport “bus”:
    • Marina: Meet at 7:35, walking at 7:40. Bus driver – Corrine Wetherbee

    Old Mission Peninsula School:

    •  Front of our driveway on Island View Road: Meet at 8:00, walking at 8:15. Bus Driver – Dena Schweitzer
    Suttons Bay “bus”:
    • TBD
    Traverse Heights’ “bus”:
    • Jupiter Park: Boyd at Rose Street: Meet at 8:05, walking at 8:10. Bus driver –  Stephanie and Josh Wilson.
    Trinity Lutheran “bus”:
    • 10th/Lake: Oryana: Meet at 7:35, walking at 7:4o. Bus driver – TBD
    West Middle School:
    • Grand Traverse Commons barns: TBD
    • Meijer: TBD
    • YMCA: TBD

    Westwoods “bus”:

    • 1122 Fisher Road. Meet at 8:15, walking at 8:20. Bus driver – Juli Tiesworth
    Willow Hill’s “bus”:
    •  Darrow Park: Meet at 8:15, walking at 8:20. Bus Driver – Principal Sides-Mackay
    Woodland School‘s “bus”:
    •   Meet and park at Mrs.D’s lot on Island lake at 7:40, strolling At 7:45. Bus Driver – Amanda DeBruyn.

    Don’t forget to commit!




    Our friends at Oryana will be generously providing healthy snacks at their “bus stop” for TCAPS Montessori, Trinity Lutheran and Central Grade students.

    The Traverse City Police Department will also be walking to school with us. How awesome is that?

    We are looking for extra volunteers to help keep the kids safe, count walkers at school and hand out highfives. Please sign up HERE.

    Email questions to


    Thank you, Sponsors!

    Thank you, Community Partners!


    Orange You Glad It’s Fall?

    Forget Pumpkin Spice and Football, Bikes are the Best Part of Fall!

    We’re pumped for our best fall ever. There’s just nothing like exploring northern Michigan on a beautiful fall day on bikes with friends, is there? Here are our top reasons to make this your best fall ever with Team Orange.

    And more! What did we miss? We’ll add it. Contact Ash:


    Bikes. Friends. Adventure: The Bike Más Project to Empower Kids to be Active For Life at 22 Schools in the Grand Traverse Region this Fall

    The Bike Más Project teaches confidence, independence, and bike safety skills to 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th graders through empowerment, education, and adventure. Mucho adventure!

    Bike Más Project kids will:

    • Learn how to bike safe and bike smart
    • Develop bike repair and maintenance skills
    • Become a bike handling ninja.
    • Build confidence. Get fit. And have FUN!

    Fall 2019 schedule:

    Each session meets immediately after school and is 90 minutes long. The program begins/ends at school except for a few schools which will meet at the Clubhouse or Wheelhouse. Transportation from the school to the Clubhouse/Wheelhouse is not provided.

    We meet once a week for 4 weeks and sessions start the week of September 16, 2019.


    • Children’s House (Meets at the Wheelhouse at 4:30pm)
    • Eastern (group 1)
    • East Middle (meets at the Wheelhouse at 4pm)
    • Elk Rapids-Cherryland Middle School
    • Northern Michigan Partnership (meets at the Wheelhouse at 2pm)
    • Northport (3rd-5th graders)
    • Westwoods
    • Woodland
    • Central Grade (group 2)


    • Central Grade (group 1)
    • Long Lake
    • Old Mission Peninsula (meets at Clubhouse at 4pm)
    • West Middle


    • Willow Hill (group 1)
    • Traverse Heights
    • TCAPS Montessori @ Glenn Loomis
    • Cherry Knoll
    • Northport – 6th-8th graders
    • Grand Traverse Academy (meets at the Wheelhouse at 4:30pm)
    • Elk Rapids – Lakeland


    • Blair
    • Pathfinder (meets at Clubhouse at 4:30pm)
    • Silver Lake
    • Eastern (group 2)


    • Courtade
    • Immaculate Conception
    • Trinity Lutheran
    • Willow Hill (group 2)

    Helpful Information:

    • Bring a water bottle, helmet, bike and snack to all sessions.
    • Sessions are limited to five (5) participants. If 5 participants do not register, the session will be canceled and a refund provided.
    • Participants will meet the instructor in the school library immediately after dismissal.
    • If the host school is closed, no after school activities will be held per school policy. There is no guarantee of a make-up date in the case of inclement weather. Missed sessions will only be made up if schedules allow.
    • Bikes are available for participants to borrow from Norte’s Bike Library if needed.

    Every Bike Mas Project participant will also receive:

    • a sweet Norte shirt – if you already have a shirt, you can score $10 off something in our very orange online store
    • a free family membership to our Clubhouse

      Program requirements:

    • A positive attitude
    • Can comfortably ride 5-8 miles (4th-5th grade) or 8-10 miles (6th-7th grade)
    • Cost:

    • $35
    • Registration:

      Program scholarships:

      Huge thanks to our sponsors for supporting happy, healthy, strong kids:


    Norte is Hiring! Join Team Orange

    Passionate about bicycles? Like working with kids? Want to build stronger, better connected and more walk/bike-friendly communities?

    Join us.

    Norte is Northern Michigan’s youth-focused, bike-centric advocacy organization that is dedicated to empowering the young and young at heart.


    After School Youth Mountain Bike Coach

    After School Bike Mas Project Instructor

    To apply, email your resume to Ty Schmidt.

    Questions? Get at us via email or call the Clubhouse at 231-883-2404.

    Norte Does Shoreline West: Notes From The Road (Part 2)

    Day #1-3 Recap HERE

    Day #4: Rest Day in Traverse City

    The team took it easy today. We slept in on our beds and it was glorious. Little beach, little relaxing and then we did TC Rides ’cause that’s what we do on Wednesdays in Traverse City. Plus it was Ainsley’s 13th birthday.

    Day #5: Traverse City to Charlevoix

    Bad news: After our layover in Traverse City, just one “Hero of the Road” showed up at the Clubhouse to continue north to the Bridge in support of the League of Michigan Bicyclists’ important work.

    Good news: We had a special guest join us for the first 20 miles today. Patrick Cotant of Patrick’s Heavy Ride With Friends rode with us to Elk Rapids and we rocked it. A beautiful 60ish miles along the shore of Torch Lake through Eastport to Charlevoix.

    Day #6: Charlevoix to Harbor Springs

    Another wonderful morning. Today we rode around the west arm of Lake Charlevoix to East Jordan, Boyne City, Wallon Lake to Petoskey before jumping on the Wheelway trail to Harbor Springs. We had a stiff headwind the last 20 miles but the legs were good and finished strong.

    Day #7: Harbor Spring to the Bridge

    Today we finished off the Shoreline West tour with the shortest stage. We rode the tunnel of trees into Wilderness State Park to Mackinaw City for a total of 48 miles on some amazing road along the shore of Lake Michigan. We made it!

    Big thanks to the amazing tour staff and volunteers who made this week special. We had a blast. Thank you!

    We’re so close to reaching our goal of $7,200 for the League of Michigan Bicyclists. We’re just $300 short. Donate a couple of bucks HERE.

    Norte Fall Program Registration Now Open

    Off the couch. Off the screen. Let’s get outside and ride bikes with friends in this amazing place we call home.

    Norte has mucho bike-y happenings for happy, healthy, young people all fall long here in northern Michigan.

    Our programs are dedicated to empowering young people to be confident, independent, happy and healthy.

    Civic Center-based After School Mountain Bike Program:

    • For elementary, middle and high school students.
    • Learn more and register HERE

    School-based After School Bike Más Project:

    • Adventure-based bike safety program for upper elementary and middle school students in partnership with 22 area schools
    • Learn more and register HERE

    Civic Center-based Bike Mechanics Classes:

    • A series of bike mechanics classes for the young and young at heart hosted at the Wheelhouse.
    • Learn more and registration HERE

    Free happenings:

    Get Involved

    Norte Does Shoreline West: Notes From The Road (Part 1)

    5 members of our youth leadership council, El Liderato, are riding 360 miles from Montague to the Bridge in support of the League of Michigan Bicyclists’ important work. Here are some notes from the road of our first 3 days of the 2019 Shoreline West tour.

    Day #1: Montague to Ludington

    We had a rough start as we lost Amelia to a crash early on today. She’s bumped and bruised but okay. The rest of the team rallied and rode strong through Silver Lake Sand Dunes and Pentwater on our way to Ludington.

    Day #2: Ludington to Frankfort

    Fantastic second day as we rode through Manistee, Onekama, and Arcadia. We tackled a couple of stiff climbs before cruising into Frankfort.

    Day #3: Frankfort to Traverse City

    We had the home-field advantage today as we rode some very familiar roads from Frankfort to Empire to Glen Arbor to Maple City to home. Couldn’t have asked for a better morning considering the heavy storm last night.

    We have a rest day here in TC tomorrow and then it’s back on the road to Charlevoix Thursday. Help us reach our goal of $7,200 for the League of Michigan Bicyclists. We’re just $400 short. Chip in a few bucks HERE.