Complete Streets Ambassadors - Weekend Training
Summer 2017 Complete Streets Ambassadors will work to make biking more safe and accessible!
This past weekend, the summer cohort of Complete Streets Ambassadors gathered at Gretna’s Mel Ott Recreation Center on the Westbank to go through our extensive training for all things Complete Streets. These folks will be community leaders highlighting the need for safer and more accessible biking and walking over the next three months and beyond. While the training and ambassador program is in it’s fourth iteration, there was a special addition this weekend. For the first time, folks from Jefferson Parish gathered around the table along side their Orleans Parish neighbors. We are extremely excited to have community leaders focused on Jefferson Parish’s biking and walking needs. The summer cohort of Ambassadors will be working both individually and as a team to ensure that streets in their communities are built to share and lead to healthier, more equitable outcomes for all Greater New Orleans residents.
The weekend’s training focused on the importance of personal story sharing, best practices on pop-up tactical urbanism demonstrations, Complete Streets technical knowledge, the ins and outs of grassroots outreach, and guest lectures from superstar community leaders and advocates. As a new addition to the Bike Easy staff, this was my first time sitting in on the training. It was exciting to watch complete streets veterans share ideas and knowledge with those new to the effort. And on the other hand, it was wonderful to see new perspectives and ideas brought to the conversation from our community ambassadors. The space was full of learning and discovery. I watched as folks around the table thought about their personal biking stories in a new light, discovered a knack for petition gathering, and honed their leadership skills. By the end of the weekend, the Ambassadors were itching to get started and were wondering if they could be involved for longer than our structured three months. The answer to which, by the way, is a resounding “Yes!”
The Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish Ambassadors efforts will diverge going forward, but remain parallel. Our goals are the same throughout the region whether Central City or Lower 9, East Bank or West Bank – bringing streets built to share to all. For the next three months and beyond, Shaquita Griffin, Lillie Fleury, Cassandra Ruomo, Taylor Scheinuk, Stephen Truxillo, Roi-Lynne Hulin, John Mack III, Cheri Ben-Iesau, and Gloria Moncada will be speaking up and out about the need for complete streets in all neighborhoods of the Greater New Orleans area. They will be attending public meetings in their districts, speaking with neighborhood associations, and voicing their concerns to their elected and agency officials. While working specifically in their own neighborhoods, they’ll also come together as a team to plan and execute a larger-scale project that will bring attention to the positive health and equity outcomes that Complete Streets implementation in both parishes can bring.
We are extremely excited to have this rockstar group of advocates on the Bike Easy team. Stay tuned for more detailed bios and updates from the newest Complete Streets Ambassadors coming soon.