If you could identify the item in this week’s Access Points photo game, you’re smart — just like Jaye Boyer, who guessed correctly that it’s the East Atlanta Kids Club logo, as it appears in a mural at Sopo Bicycle Co-op.
I don’t expect everyone to have seen this mural, but if you have, I expect you remember it. It’s painted on the wall inside Sopo Bicycle Co-op, which lives inside a concrete room in the alley behind the Australian Bakery in East Atlanta Village.
When the non-profit bike shop moved there in 2005, the walls were bare, boring. Organizers wanted a mural, and looked to the East Atlanta Kids Club, an organization founded in 1998 to work with kids in southeast Atlanta ages 7 to 17.
Rachael Spiewak, one of Sopo’s founders, said the Kids Club was one of the things that attracted them to East Atlanta; while the shop is a resource for adults, it’s a place for young people to learn and fix bikes, too.
(You can read more about the bike shop’s history in a story I wrote about Sopo, “Non-profit bike shop gets cyclists in gear,” in 2008. The shop was one of the first things I learned about upon moving to Atlanta last year. Full disclosure: I often rely on it for bike maintenance, and have a lot of friends among its volunteers and regulars.)
Kids Club Founder/Executive Director Jill Sieder said the kids were happy to get their hands on a canvas and some paint. The club called on Ernesto Cuevas, an artist who painted a mural inside their home facility, nearby Brownwood Park Recreation Center.
About 15 kids brainstormed, drew pictures and developed a composite sketch with Cuevas, who blew up the image and guided the painting.
“We just gave them the key,” Spiewak recalls now. “We’d come in and it would be a little closer to done.”
So what’s in the mural? Tools, like the ones people learn to use at the bike shop; people of all sizes, races and bike styles; the phrase “2 Wheels Good” — the simplest way to say it’s faster than two feet and healthier than four wheels.
And then there’s that blue butterfly, the East Atlanta Kids Club logo. Sieder wanted a butterfly as the logo because it represents transformation. Her brother, Kirk, was the one to design it and paint it blue. In the mural, it’s on a rider’s backpack.
“It’s cute, bright, cheerful,” Spiewak said of the mural. “People seem to respond to it really favorably.”
Even years later, the Kids Club and bike shop partner on events like the annual Brownwood Bicycle Rally and the One Love Century ride.
When someone shows up to the Kids Club with a broken bike, “I say ‘You know where to go,’” Seider said. If there’s an issue with a kid at the bike shop, Spiewak said, they can go to the Kids Club for help.
Those types of community relationships are even more important to the Kids Club now. Last year, Brownwood rec center was among those closed as the city dealt with money shortages. For about a year, the Kids Club ran out of a local church. After negotiating with the city, the Kids Club agreed to pay for the building’s utilities and maintenance with the help of other community partners. The Kids Club finally moved back to Brownwood in September.
As for Sopo, more and more people and bikes have passed through the shop doors — more than its founders ever expected. It’s gotten harder to keep the mural free of tool and part storage. Still it’s still important to keep the painting in view of the kids, and everyone, Spiewak said, “just to signify we’re there for them, and they’re part of us, too.”
Want to go? Sopo Bicycle Co-op, 7-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 2-6 p.m. Saturday. Free, but donations are requested for parts and tool use. 465-C Flat Shoals Ave., Atlanta. 404-425-9989, www.sopobikes.org.
East Atlanta Kids Club, after-school programs meet 4:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturdays. Free. Brownwood Park Recreation Center,602 Brownwood Ave. S.E., Atlanta. 404-635-0795, www.eastatlantakids.org.