Some of Santa Cruz’s bicycle advocates are refining their missions and goals—or at least clarifying them. The group known as People Power is changing its name to Bike Santa Cruz County and celebrating with a press event and fundraiser Tuesday, April 7.
“We’re focusing on what we do best, which is bicycle advocacy,” executive director Amelia Conlen says. “The name change is the culmination of that.”
The new name sure gets rid of any confusion or explaining about what the group’s basic mission is: encourage people to bike more and drive less.
City Councilmember Micah Posner, who served as People Power director for eight years, concedes that the new name sounds less political, but adds that that makes sense nowadays.
Cyclists have gained major support, after all, and also counted a few victories in recent years—including the opening of the Arana Gulch multi-use trail, as well as progress on the Rail Trail plan. Posner serves on the organization’s 10-person steering committee, which operates by consensus and approved the name change. Sometimes, he says, the organization connoted other political meanings for community members that were totally unintentional. One person, for example, wanted to join People Power for years, but couldn’t bring himself to sign up because the name sounded “too communist” to him. The man wrote a check to Bike Santa Cruz County as soon as he heard about about the change.
People Power’s old moniker sounded tame, though, compared to the “Militant Bike League.” That’s the “spoof name” that People Power founder Jim Denevan sometimes jokingly called the group, and he would kid about drafting a manifesto to go along with it.
Denevan started the group about 25 years ago, when he was going to farmers markets with a table and handing out fliers. The thing he liked about the old name was that it was poetic. These days, Denevan is an artist famous for his farm-to-table culinary tour “Outstanding in the Field” and his massive pieces of work drawn in sand. Getting ready to board a flight to Las Vegas for a project, he tells GT that the name People Power allowed people to ask what the name meant. That, in turn, started a conversation.
“When you don’t name it directly, it leaves a little room for more discussion,” he says. “But maybe that’s not what people want nowadays. This gets the point across.”
There will be a press event for Bike Santa Cruz County at 4 p.m. on April 7 in the nonprofit’s office at 703 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz followed by a fundraiser and party at Lúpulo Craft Beer House, located at 233 Cathcart St., Santa Cruz from 5-9 p.m.