Two Wheel View as a multi-purpose place of greater community value

March 20, 2023

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Two Wheel View is more than just bikes and bike clubs. A lot of our value comes from the physical spaces we inhabit. Sociologist Ray Oldenburg states that people typically find meaning and connection in three places: the home, the office (or perhaps school, in the case of younger generations), and community hangouts or gathering places.[1] He believes all three have ‘immense social value,’ but specifically promotes the importance of what he calls the ‘third place:’ informal public gathering spaces. These are places like libraries, coffee shops or skate parks, that Oldenburg considers vital to life, providing benefits that cannot be supplied by any other organizations in society. His research suggests that nothing contributes to one’s sense of belonging to a community as much as “membership” to a place external to the home or work/school.

Two Wheel View’s office and workshop serves many purposes. We provide youth development programs, we host a diverse assortment of community outreach events and we have brought together people from a range of backgrounds, cultures and experiences. As a placemaker, we are trying to develop a public space that attracts people and brings them together, fosters local identity and builds community. As Executive Director Laura Istead puts it, “we love to invite people into our space to see what we do” and we hope that our physical space will benefit the whole community.  

A group of people in a large room with bicycles, listening to a speaker

As a place to receive education

As a youth development organization, one of our underlying tasks is to educate young people – not just with formal skills and knowledge, but also social and emotional learning. Our Beltline Bike Club takes place in our workshop, where the young people have the opportunity to gain information and new skills that will improve their chances of success in other parts of the community. We also host volunteer mechanic nights where anyone is welcome to come along and learn some new skills. We have recently launched “Discovery Sessions”, where, on every 3rd Tuesday, we deliver a lesson on different bike mechanic skills. Interested in joining a volunteer mechanic night? Sign up here. We also give lectures and workshops, such as our upcoming “Shift into Winter,” a panel discussion on winter cycling that will be led by Calgary's awarded "Commuter of the Year." Tickets by donation will be available at the door on the evening of the event or can be purchased online in advance by clicking here.

As a place to find social inclusion

Two Wheel View operates an open door policy and we welcome members of our community from all walks of life through our doors. We bring together the young and old through our youth development programs, we bring together those who are retired with those still in the workforce with our volunteer program and we bring together cycling enthusiasts with non-profit supports at our events. This contributes to greater tolerance, understanding, and empathy in our community.

Two older men helping a younger man to fix a bike

As a place to be (rather than being somewhere else)

It’s well known that the hours after school are a risky time for youth, when they are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviours. By operating an after school program in our workspace, we give young people who live in the inner city a safe space to go and develop healthy behaviours and useful skills during the time when they are most vulnerable to negative influence and poor decision-making.

As a place to give back

Through our volunteer program and the various fundraisers we host and participate in throughout the year, we give our community the opportunity to give back. Taking the time to give back is important not only because it benefits others but it makes us feel good, it strengthens our personal values and it improves the relationships we have with others.

As a place to gain something

As a social enterprise bike shop, Two Wheel View has been selling bikes since the beginning of 2018. This program has given our volunteer mechanics new skills and purpose and has given the recipients of these lovingly rebuilt bicycles a source of transportation, healthy habits and entertainment.

As a place to improve our city

We have had hundreds of used, pre-loved and broken bikes and parts flow through our workshop. By recycling, rebuilding, repurposing and rehoming these incredibly useful tools, we have saved our city from the burden of a substantial amount of waste and hopefully, reduced carbon emissions by promoting two-wheeled transportation.

A young man points to a map on a projector screen, showing the route his family took on a round the world bike trip

As a place for entertainment

The fundraisers we host in our spaces serve not only to benefit our organization financially; they also give us a chance to have fun with our friends. They are every bit as much about ‘friend-raising’ as they are about raising funds. Lectures & talks, such as like last week’s “Around the world on a bike” story-telling session hosted by Two Wheel View Founders, the McFerrins, and our annual “Adventurer Series” are more chances for us to bring together people with mutual interests for some vicarious adventures.

is characterized by a sense of belonging, mutual support and opportunity.[2] Two Wheel View aims to provide value to our community in as many ways as possible for as many people as possible. Interested in getting involved? Contact us via email or come on down to our shop – we look forward to your visit!

[1]Oldenburg, R. (1999). The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community. Marlowe & Company, New York, NY.

[2]Tosic, N. (2016). The Importance of Community in Collaborative Space. ShareDesk. Retrieved November 1, 2018.

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Intentional community building should not be overlooked. When we come together, we talk through our insecurities, our uncertainties and share stories to help us better understand each other and the world we live in.

TWV Team Member

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