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home : commentary : thisissue May 25, 2016

Wheeled women
Norma Smith Olson, left,
and Kathy Magnuson

"[Learning bike mechanics] empowers you to do things on your own. It gives you knowledge and vocabulary. Feeling confident and empowered can translate to other parts of your life."
- Julia Winkels, read more in the June 2014 ActNow column .

by Norma Smith Olson and Kathy Magnuson

As the driver's-side door flew off her car with Kathy sitting in it, we had already planned our "women and wheels" theme for this June issue. The crash happened in an instant. As she looked at the crumpled door on the road, she realized that if a moment later, it could have been her body crumpled on the road. Do you know how your heart thump-thumps in those moments? With four individuals involved and two cars towed away, it was a miracle, really, that no one was hurt.

Some lessons relearned that afternoon: Life is precious. Things are replaceable, people are not. People are kind. As Kathy sat in the rain in her crumpled car's back seat waiting for the police to come, so many strangers walking by stopped to ask if she was OK, if they could sit with her while she waited, if they could bring her a cup of tea or a sandwich from the coffee shop down the block.

Lessons relearned over the next few weeks included the knowledge that owning a car makes one a person of privilege. The ability to replace a car is a privilege. Having a working bike is a privilege. Perceptions of time and distance can shift. Places are not as far away as you think they are and it doesn't take as much time as you'd think when you bike or walk to your destination. Getting caught in the rain on a bike can be fun if it is warm enough outside. The perception of what is a big deal - and what is not - has also shifted.

Our wheels create a certain kind of independence in our car-centric culture. Wheels can make it easier to be in charge, to go places, to do things. When we suddenly lose that source of independence, how do we choose to respond to that? How do we recognize other sources of independence and get things done?

TCPride.KathyGriffin.InContentTile 5-2016

In this issue - with a collection of with or without wheels stories - we share alternatives about how women can get around. To celebrate the opening of the Green Line on June 14 - connecting the downtowns of St. Paul and Minneapolis - we profile local blogger Christina Morrison, a self-proclaimed light-rail geek. In addition, we share stories of a woman who became a car mechanic for social justice, the Crank Sisters on girls and bicycles, Harley riders, a wheelchair basketball Paralympian, bicycle maintenance options and overcoming fears of learning to drive.

When was a time you gave yourself a green light? Have you taken a right turn on the road of life? Have you been spinning your wheels? When the wheels are turning in your head, are you an armchair traveler? Whatever "wheeled" metaphor you would choose to describe yourself, we hope this issue gets your wheels turning.

Coming up:
July's focus is "winning and losing" and we're asking: When was a time that you won or lost and what did that mean to you?
Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: June 10, 2014
July advertising sections:
• Celebrate Your Independents - Buy Local Guide
• Health Guide
• Women and Pets Guide
• GoSeeDo Guide
Deadline: June 10, 2014

What would August in Minnesota be without the State Fair? What's your amazing, unforgettable State Fair moment? Send up to 150 words to editor@womenspress.com
Deadline: July 10, 2014
August advertising sections:
• Education and Lifelong Learning Guide
• Women Going Places Guide
• GoSeeDo Guide
Deadline: July 10, 2014

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