Expand Leadership in Walk Advocacy

$1,196 of $1,400 goal

Raised by 22 people in 8 months

Please support participation in the Walking College program to strengthen my leadership skills to advocacate for safe, walkable communities.


My name is Maria Sipin. I am honored to be selected as one of 25 fellows for America Walks to represent my community in Los Angeles, California.

I would like to share part of my story with you and how you can support my walking project and travel costs to attend the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference in Vancouver, BC.

Social Media for Social Good

In the last five years, I have been a dedicated advocate for people who bike and volunteering with local organizations. I began my activism online using whatever social media tools I had to participate in local and national actions to support bicycle-related initiatives and to inform others about the urgent issues affecting people who bike. Most people know me by the nature of my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts. Social media has created so many opportunities for me and gave me a platform to be vocal about issues such as reproductive justice, immigrant rights, sexual harassment and assault, racism--issues I couldn't discuss elsewhere. These issues intersect with biking, walking, and public transit use.

Underrepresented and Thriving
"Make space and take space." Being present and participating is just part of the work. Young women like me are still underrepresented in active transportation leadership and in urban planning professional spaces and academia. Every opportunity to learn, lead, and create pathways for others to engage is important to me.

In 2012, I received a scholarship through Women on Bikes California (Pedal Love) to complete a national bike safety instructor certification seminar to increase the number of women and women of color who teach bike safety in their communities . Since then, I have committed to teaching bike safety classes for children and adults of all ages, thanks to supportive partners like Multicultural Communities for Mobility, Walk n Rollers, and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition who have given me opportunities to connect with community members through bike safety events in Los Angeles County. Most importantly, I have grown as a volunteer, leader, young professional, and voice in bike advocacy. Last year, I piloted a local women's leadership project and event series titled "Women Bike, Women Lead" with LACBC and MCM to provide a space for women to discuss their concerns and interests related to biking, institutions, and policies that affect them. Today, I am invested in efforts such as Vision Zero implementation in Los Angeles and participating the Los Angeles Vision Zero Alliance to ensure that community priorities and equity issues are addressed. Founding Alliance members such as Multicultural Communities for Mobility, LACBC, Los Angeles Walks, TRUST South LA, APIOPA, Youth Policy Institute, AARP, and others are partners I hope to engage in this fellowship project.


Along with my commitment to creating safer streets and spaces for people to bike, I am eager to learn more about how I can invest the same energy to issues related to walking, an essential form of transportation, and generating support in communities and political spaces to allocate resources to improve our sidewalks and streets for people who walk, use wheelchairs and other mobility devices. Walking issues became an even more important issue to me beause of my aging parents, their concerns when walking in their neighborhood, and their desire to be less car dependent in these years of their life.

Why I Do What I Do
My dedication to walking, biking, and public transit is connected to providing affordable transportation access to all people, especially young people and low-income communities, to move about their city to gain an education, health care services, employment, and other important parts of their life. This dedication began as part of my employment in health care years ago and my work with LGBTQ and youth experiencing homelessness.

I have had the privilege to volunteer and commit my time to these causes as a community member who has supportive networks concerned with biking, walking, low-income communities, and the health and wellbeing of youth, and as one of 25 fellows who were awarded this fellowship in May .

How You Can Help
This campaign will support my participation in the Walking College and this online education program, walking project expenses, professional development and travel to the attend the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place Conference in Vancouver as part of my Walking College Fellowship from June through September 2016.

The donations will go toward:
-planning for walking events
-professional development program
-travel to Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place Conference

And if you cannot give a monetary amount, I would like to involve you as volunteers in various walking/biking initiatives I'm part of. I am also taking other in-kind donations.

I will recognize my sponsors throughout this process, create an ongoing video series to discuss walking issues and feature various parts of Los Angeles throughout my fellowship. I will also highlight parts of the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place Conference in Vancouver.

Going Back to School
As some of you know, I will be attending Portland State University to pursue graduate degrees in Public Health and Urban Planning. I will be completing this fellowship in between employment and my first quarter in school. This was a difficult decision to make, but I am excited to start this new chapter in my life.

Thank you for your interest in making Los Angeles a better place to walk, bike, and use public transportation. Most of all, thank you for investing in my educational goals and my community.

I would be happy to talk with individuals about this project and share other insights with you.

Sincerely,
Maria Sipin
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Update 7
Posted by Maria Sipin
5 months ago
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On my way to Vancouver, BC. Stay tuned for updates this week about my experiences at the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place Conference. As I'm waiting to board my Delta flight, I want to thank everyone, including my anonymous donors, for the $5 gifts and more:
Mia Humphreys, Karen Canady, Diego Castaneda, Maria Rodriguez, John Lloyd, Emilia Crotty, Chris Morfas, Jessica Meaney, Ian Thomas, Leigh Phan, Jarrett Stoltzfus, Machiko Yasuda, Thomas Clearwater, Gernez Owens, Esther Park, Andrea Sipin, Michael Sipin, the Romasanta Family, and the Ingles Family.
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Update 6
Posted by Maria Sipin
5 months ago
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I'm a week away from the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place Conference. Thank you for helping me get this far in the Walking College fellowship. While I'm preparing my Walking Action Plan, I'm clearing my closet. I'm giving a brand new pair of ASICS sneakers with a donation of $80. Grab them for yourself or someone who loves walking and running. The ASICS-GEL Kayano 22 in Ice Blue retails for $129. Win-win. Stay tuned for anything else I'm posting as rewards from my closet. If you're not interested in freebies and would like to contribute anyway, $5 will go a long way for me too. Thank you.
ASICS GEL-Kayano 22, Women 6.5
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Update 5
Posted by Maria Sipin
6 months ago
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One of the challenges I’ve come across so far is experiencing frustration and sadness having to focus on lively, safe communities when issues of racism, police violence, poverty and injustices impacting people of color and low-income communities are not being acknowledged the way they should be. We can’t continue to have a narrow approach for creating walkable communities; we must create safe spaces for everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable or marginalized, and it's not going to be easy dismantling problematic systems and ways of thinking. I know I have a lot to learn, and I’ve kept an open mind. As I approach grad school in Portland, these are some of the things I’m carrying with me. Los Angeles is the comfort zone I’m leaving behind. Wish me luck.

Two weeks until Vancouver and I am halfway to my goal for the Walking College program. To my contributors so far: thank you for making this opportunity possible. Volunteering for several organizations the past five years has been an interesting and rewarding journey.

Dedicating time, money and energy is something I share with many other advocates who aren’t supported by institutions to do this work. I’ve spent my own resources increasing my capacity to do advocacy work without asking others or organizations for help; conference registration and travel have been funded by me or provided by scholarships on rare occasions. For this fellowship, I have asked the public, friends, and family for help because this fundraising exercise is also part of the learning process. I also expressed my challenges with fundraising to the organizers of the Walking College and how this is a difficult task because of cultural expectations, stigma around asking for help and money, and the amount of crowdfunding taking place in my networks for more serious and urgent issues. As much as crowdfunding is seen as a "normal" thing among nonprofit organizations, we're not always comfortable with it. This is a skill I have yet to learn as an advisory board member and nonprofit professional.

What's left of the Walking College program? By the end of this course, I would share my experiences and a draft of my community walking plan at the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference in September for my ongoing professional development and personal growth. Stay tuned to what happens next. You can always follow me on Twitter for extending musings: @ahealthydesign.

Thank you for listening.
The alleys of Historic Filipinotown
LA, my home
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Update 4
Posted by Maria Sipin
8 months ago
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This week in walking & active transportation: right turning cars at red lights. It's old news, but I can't help but watch these close calls at the Metro Station on Vermont and Sunset near my workplace at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. At this intersection, impatient and aggressive drivers meet adults pushing children in strollers and wheelchairs at the crosswalk. Is anyone out there a fan of eliminating right turns on red lights? Modifications to engineering, design, and policy are just some of the ways to make walking and driving safer in any community. In many ways, we each have a role to play. I'm working on getting better at explaining how and why through this Walking College program.

On Cesar Chavez Avenue for the LA Great Streets activation "#NuestraAvenida" in March 2016, Multicultural Communities for Mobility, From Lot to Spot, CALO YouthBuild Boyle Heights and several community organizations sought input from the neighborhood and demonstrated the possibilities for creating public spaces for people. The results from those efforts were moving, insightful, valuable, and have yet to be implemented by the city comprehensively to complement the existing improvements underway. But we're working on it. Community input and leadership should influence governmental processes not just at the beginning but throughout. I'm interested in how this could be better facilitated as part of building relationships and transforming power dynamics in cities.

Finally, a friend @speechleyish posted something on Twitter that connects to why I'm passionate about volunteering, collaborating, and so invested in community participation:

"Gil Penalosa: Citizens Can't Be Spectators in Urban Planning"

https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/gil-penalosa-citizens-involved-urban-planning-urban-design

We need more champions and leaders at all levels to drive the kind of changes that benefit the community, not just a few powerful interests prescribing how things should be done.

Thanks for moving along with me.

Extra thanks for this week's supporters:
-Jarrett
-The Ingles Family
Discussing changes on Cesar Chavez Ave
Multicultural Communities for Mobility
Nuestra Avenida
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$1,196 of $1,400 goal

Raised by 22 people in 8 months
Created June 21, 2016
GU
$50
Gwen Urey
5 months ago

Always an inspiration, Maria.

CA
$10
Caio Alves
5 months ago
$15
Hyeran Lee
5 months ago

Mobi Bike share monthly fee

MH
$50
Mia Humphreys
5 months ago
$5
Anonymous
5 months ago
$50
Karen Canady
5 months ago
DC
$25
Diego Castaneda
5 months ago
$30
Anonymous
6 months ago
$10
Maria Belen Rodriguez
6 months ago

Your efforts feed the soul, thank you. Wish I can give more!

JL
$50
John Lloyd
6 months ago
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