Common Ground

Slow Roll Joy

One of my favorite activities in summer evenings is to participate the Slow Roll MSP community bike rides through our city’s neighborhoods. 

Led by Anthony Taylor and the Cultural Wellness Center, this weekly event includes all the important elements of community health: Shared activity, music, food, moderate exercise, and community. Slow Rolls help to build connections between participants and the city we love. Anthony and the team take care to support beginners, run safety checks for bikes, and make space for all newcomers to feel welcome. Each ride is capped off with a delicious, healthy (and free) community meal for all participants. 

The bike rides are slow so that kids and adults of varying skill level can take part, and so that neighbors in their yards, balconies, and porches have time to wave and experience a wave of joy as the Slow Roll passes. Music keeps spirits high and bells are often rung as the pack rolls through intersections past waiting cars. Children playing outside almost always stop their play to wave while adults take joy in what feels like an impromptu, peddle-powered parade. 

In their proposal for a 2022 People for Park Fund grant, the Cultural Wellness Center noted: “Slow Roll helps to build healthy, economically vibrant, connected, and people-centered cities and has always focused its efforts in historically marginalized communities. Through Slow Roll, community members claim a community that is honest about its history and transparent about future opportunities. A community that is connected, safe, and active.”

More important than the physical exercise, the connections forged between riders makes these rides a joyful experience. The pace allows conversation among riders to emerge. Being part of something communal while navigating through city streets and stopping at parks and public squares to learn more about their design and history makes each ride unique and memorable.

Every time I’ve participated, I’ve learned more about the city we live in, and the incredible people who share it. These rides generate a sense of pride and enthusiasm for Minneapolis and draw participants back for more.

The last slow roll of this season is scheduled for Thursday night (September 1) beginning at 6:00 from 3800 S. 3rd Street in South Minneapolis. If you are interested, all you need to participate is to show up and bring your joy to share.

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