[TheThinkTank] alternative payment/stipend structures

Macho Philipovich macho at resist.ca
Mon Feb 4 14:30:11 PST 2008

kyle mckinley wrote:
> It seems to me that what needs to be interjected into this 
> conversation is questions of class. Sure, if there are no paid staff 
> at a bike project, there is a perception of equality. But who is it 
> that has time to 'give' to a project? I'm not, by any means, saying 
> that if you volunteer your time, you aren't working class, but I think 
> that a cursory examination of community bike shops reveals that they 
> are mostly operated by young white men. At the very least, I think 
> that we can agree that this is a group that possesses certain other 
> privileges in this society, privileges that might make it easier to 
> 'donate' a lot of time to a project you love. Many projects have found 
> that paying a living wage has increased gender equity in their shop, 
> and I would guess that it will increase the proportion of non-white 
> core members as well. Both of these factors make the shop more 
> friendly/ accessible to exactly the portions of our communities that 
> probably have the most trouble getting bike help via traditional 
> routes (bro-ing out with the mechanic dude down at the legit bike shop).

I've got a follow-up question to this for all of the shops out there.  
I've always been skeptical about how paid staff would affect our shop.  
We have always been all-volunteer.  The one advantage I saw in it was 
the possibility of redressing class or race imbalances in the way you 
mention.  On the other hand, my impression of most shops with hired 
staff, even the ones who use class and race as an explicit justification 
for it, is that they seem to be no more diverse along race and class 
lines than our shop, usually less.  My impression may totally be wrong, 
so I'd love to hear from other places about this.  Does your experience 
with hired staff show an improvement in class/racial diversity?

As an aside, I might sometimes seem the grumpy naysayer, but I should 
mention that I love this list (and Bike!Bike!) for giving a space for 
critical, thoughtful, and constructive discussion to happen around 
race/class/gender/antioppression/etc in the bike world.  Thanks everyone.


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