(photo credit: Allan Crawford)
Meet Melissa Balmer. She pedals love. Seriously. Pedal Love, founded by Melissa and operated in collaboration with Jim Brown (the former Executive Director of the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates), provides storytelling and media skills to help more people fall in love with safer, friendlier streets and a healthier, more sustainable world. Just take a moment and enjoy the stories told visually in the banner Melissa created for the Pedal Love website:
After a professional background in media relations with entrepreneurial and small businesses, Melissa created and hosted the first all-female League Cycling Instructor training in the USA as part of Women on Bikes SoCal (the first iteration of Pedal Love) in 2012. A later stint at the California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike) sealed her commitment to active transportation and further paved the way for Pedal Love.
Melissa and her team at Pedal Love offer live, online participatory storytelling workshops for people with great ideas in the active mobility advocacy network (think biking, walking, public transit, and urbanism) who are looking for intoxicatingly compelling ways to help sell them. She told me:
“We don’t have a “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” campaign like we did in the 1970s that those of us who grew up then still think of every time we see litter. We need that kind of storytelling around active transportation now. We need to be at the think tanks and the big sustainability conferences. We need the major Hollywood storytellers involved. We don’t have time to wait. I can teach people how to do Ted Talks and Board of Directors presentations; how to increase their fundraising; how to persuade mayors and city councils; and how to position themselves as go-to sources for the media.”
Melissa (who suffers from chronic migraines, fibromyalgia, and fatigue and finds that active transportation helps relieve some symptoms) comes at storytelling from every angle. She presented the first storytelling plenary ever at the National Bike Summit in 2017 (which included Monica Garrison, Barb Chamberlain, and Timberley Jones, who was featured yesterday here in the “You Go, Girl!” series on Traveling at the Speed of Bike). She sold a media list with contact information for pitching stories on topics relating to active transportation, which I purchased from her last year (following stories of mine that were published on Ensia and Unearth Women) and which I’m planning on using more this fall during this biggest bike boom since I first experienced bike freedom in the 1970s. And she offers a “From Victim Blaming to Solutions” toolkit:
What’s more, Melissa generously shares what I consider one of the most charming things yet — inclusive, active-transportation coloring pages that are downloadable for free for yourself or loved ones (what a nice transition these could be from online school lessons to outdoor exercise during these trying times!), plus are branding-ready for your bike shop or other organization (with appropriate PedalLove credit, of course). She explained:
“I want to showcase sustainability while celebrating how girls and women can stay active.”
I’m digging out my crayons right now.
* Melissa even created a paper doll collection for her nieces. It served as pilot test for a line of them she will be selling starting in November that reflect girls from around the USA who are living active, healthy lifestyles with a focus on sustainability.
Tap in every day in August for my “You Go, Girl” series showcasing 31 Women in 31 Days who are making it more welcoming to ride bikes in the USA. If interested, you may enjoy my book, Traveling at the Speed of Bike. All proceeds from the sale of my book help more women and girls ride bikes.
The complete series:
10. Meet Irene Lutts
14. Meet Jenn Dice
28. Meet Megan Ramey
30. Meet Aly Nicklas