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The Right Path Ahead

kyle1The first time I stepped into Revolutions back in 2006, I knew this place was special. Although I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it that first day, somehow I knew that beyond the nuts and bolts existed an opportunity to grow, learn, and be inspired by people from all over the city. The environment was engaging, the people friendly, and the mission ambitious – the perfect place for a recent college grad to whittle away the time while searching for direction. What I didn’t know was that what started as a simple volunteer opportunity to help people fix their bikes would lead me down an eventual path to managing the city-wide bicycle program for the City of Memphis.

For the last three years I have been serving dual roles – both as the Director of Revolutions and the Bike/Ped Coordinator for the City of Memphis. Beginning a citywide bicycle program from scratch was slow work, leaving time to remain engaged at Revolutions. Furthermore, my new position with the city allowed me to better link the citywide program’s work with the great work and volunteer service at Revolutions. As my responsibilities have increased at the city, and as my family has increased in size over the last couple of years (with the birth of my son, Ethan) my ability to continue at full pace with work at both Revolutions and the City of Memphis has dwindled.

You’ve no doubt seen less of me at the shop over the last 12 months, and even less of me over the last 6 months. This has been an intentional effort to gradually transition the leadership and responsibilities of Revolutions to other capable volunteers as I officially step down as Director at the end of 2013.

To me, the departure is bittersweet. I’m proud of the work Revolutions has accomplished and been involved with since I took over from Anthony Siracusa in 2008. We’ve put thousands of bicycles onto the streets of Memphis, provided hundreds of children with their first bike, and developed relationships with community partners that have blossomed and impacted the lives of countless Memphians. Internally, we successfully revamped our membership program earlier this year making each person’s experience at Revolutions more meaningful. By launching open shop hours, weekly mechanic classes, and orientations programs in 2013 we have helped reshape what it means to be a part of a community of bicyclists.

More importantly, though, I am most proud of where Revolutions is going. As I’ve been quietly pulling back from the day to day operations at the shop, I’ve been hard at work behind the scenes, working hand in hand with First Congregational Church’s leadership to set Revolutions up as the premier provider of bicycle-related education in the Mid-South region. It’s still too early to make any official announcements about what will be happening over the next 12-18 months, but suffice to say that Revolutions’ programming and services will be expanded and taken to new levels not currently seen in the southeastern US.

kyle5As we near my official departure, leadership is being handed to two capable volunteers, Mark Allen and Keith Norman. Along with our long-time mechanic, Gene Carkeet, and volunteer coordinator, Toni Davis, I rest assured each night knowing Revolutions is in good hands. Mark and Keith are long-time members of both Revolutions and First Congo, and they have been involved in Revolutions since we opened 12 years ago.

In the coming weeks you’ll begin to see some of the changes take place. After our winter holiday (Dec. 22-Jan. 4) the shop will only be providing limited services as we work on some long overdue construction and remodeling projects. There will be opportunities to volunteer during this time, but the normal shop hours and schedule will be moderated to accommodate this construction work. My hope is we can bring back full levels of service by early spring, just in time for the ice to melt and the spring time weather to welcome you back to your bike.

For that past seven years I’ve been humbled by your commitment, inspired by your work, and amazed by the results. I know now as I move forward at the City of Memphis I have an able and willing partner in Revolutions as we all work to make Memphis the best place to bike in the entire United States.

With the utmost admiration for each of you,
Kyle Wagenschutz

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