Build School Recap
I recently had the opportunity to join the Laneshift team as a member of the support staff for their inaugural Build School (www.laneshift.net/build-school) held in Bentonville, AR. I look forward sharing some of my experiences and key learnings from my time working on this impactful project.
Who is Laneshift?
Laneshift (www.laneshift.net) is an education and consulting agency based in Bentonville, Arkansas who works to create bicycle and pedestrian networks that are safe, comfortable and connected, and bike cultures that are welcoming, inclusive and encouraging. Laneshift curates two primary educational offerings. The first is Build School, which is focused on individual and professional development. Second, Laneshift offers Study Tours (www.laneshift.net/study-tour), which are designed for teams, groups or business units. It also provides consulting services, such as design/development review, master planning and corridor studies on various projects within the private and public sector. Laneshift is passionate about equipping organizations and individuals to make the bicycle an important part of their daily routine and to become advocates within their spheres of influence.
What is Build School?
Build School ( http://laneshift.net/build-school ) is a four-day, immersive learning experience designed to accelerate the participants learning how to plan for and grow safe, comfortable and connected bicycle infrastructure as well as welcoming, inclusive and encouraging bicycle cultures.
The September 2019 Build School hosted 14 participants who represented a diverse cross-section of city planners, chamber of commerce members, real estate developers, architects, and cycling advocates. Our attendees represented local, regional, and international geographies. We kept a full schedule that was purposefully balanced between active learning on a bike, as well as time spent in learning sessions. The “active, on-site” elements came each day as we rode bicycles along numerous sections of bike-friendly infrastructure throughout Northwest Arkansas. We experienced first-hand how transformative many of these projects have been to our community as we learned about the challenges, as well as the less-than-ideal project outcomes in a few instances.
Integrated into this schedule was a lineup of all-star speakers, from the mayor of Bella Vista, other city staffers, agency executive directors, and urban land use experts. We also heard from those with poignant stories about how safe, inclusive infrastructure and culture, or lack thereof, has forever impacted their lives, and what they are doing about it as a result. Personally, all of these speakers had me trying to soak up every word they were saying – it is a tribute to the Laneshift team and their overall stature and credibility in the region to be able to leverage such a strong speaker line-up for Build School.
Evenings transitioned into great food and drink, and fun together in many of the area’s eateries and watering holes. My personal favorite was an afternoon break on day three, where we grabbed some amazing street tacos at the Taqueria Don Guero in Springdale (https://www.facebook.com/TaqueriaDonGuero/), then walked across the street to Black Apple Crossing ( https://blackapplecrossing.com), to get a cidery tour and a history lesson from its founder, Leo Orpin, while sampling various flavors of delicious cider. Later, things moved to historic downtown Rogers for dinner, games, and a bit of laugh-til-it-hurts karaoke. We followed that up with a sublime, late-night ride around Lake Atalanta and personal reflection time. It is in these settings where the real magic happens - interaction, collaboration, networking, relationship building, and FUN!
Build School is billed as an immersive, hands-on experience. As a staff member and participant, I can attest; it is absolutely this, and much more. I’d even call it intensive- intensive learning, intensive networking, and intensive collaboration, brainstorming, and motivation. Alas, all good things must come to an end. As a capstone to our time together, Laneshift set aside several hours dedicated to developing a personal action plan. This session was equally as inspiring as it was emotional, as participants shared how they plan to activate the lessons learned during Build School. All that to say I didn’t want it to end, but I neededit to end! I spent most of the “day after” trying to unpack all that occurred. I look forward to watching the fruits of our time together come to fruition.
Residents of this region have seen and experienced how transformative the bicycle has been, encouraging community collaboration and acting as a catalyst for economic development. In the course of our region embracing bicycles, there has certainly been a transformation in our infrastructure, and I would assert that a cultural transformation has taken place as well. Build School served as a guide that we could engage with to fully understand and process the community-wide impact bikes are making on our community. I also saw first-hand how Build School fosters personal transformation for many of its participants. One Build School participant promptly went to local bike shop, Highroller Cyclery ( www.highrollercyclery.com), and purchased an e-bike the following Monday. She has been transformed from spectator to active participant. In fact, I ran into her at my local coffee shop, Airship ( https://airshipcoffee.com) , a day or so later, and she said with a big smile, “Wasn’t last week magical?” Of course, I agreed.
In my time at Build School, I have experienced and contributed to positive, holistic life change. Can I promise that you will experience this as a result of Build School? To experience that magic? No, but it surely seems worth a try, don’t you think?
The next Build School will be held on April 21,2019 - April 24, 2019. Click here for more details and information: www.laneshift.net/build-school