Spoke Folk and Aspire: Innovative collaboration meshes art, bikes and business

Spoke Folk and Aspire of WNY have created a unique center for creativity in Northern Chautauqua County. In the parking lot of Crino’s Music store at 811 Central Ave. in Dunkirk, a large outbuilding contains both a bike repair/training shop and mini art studio.

Serendipity actually led to the partnership. Spoke Folk was founded in 2007 by Rich Goodman in the basement of the Iglesia Getsemani Church. When the church got sold, Spoke Folk had to search for a new home. At the same time, Aspire was looking to create a place in Northern Chautauqua where individuals could go for art and other programs. Fortunately, Goodman ran into Betsy Dixon-Lang of Aspire and her husband at a local breakfast restaurant. They began chatting about their needs and recognized an opportunity to form a unique and productive collaboration.

Together, they found the available building, got it up to code and built the shared space.

The list of happenings in this hub of innovation and social entrepreneurship is dizzying. It includes classes on bike repair, mentoring of students, bicycle enthusiast gatherings, teaching of retail business practices, and the crafting of all sorts of artwork including murals, paintings, weavings, sculpture and even jewelry (made from bike parts, of course).

This is the kind of place community members need to experience firsthand. People will have the chance to see all the opportunities that Spoke Folk and Aspire have to offer at the upcoming open house, which will be held Thursday, March 21 from 4 to 8 p.m. A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at 6 p.m., and guests can enjoy building tours, information sessions and activities for all ages. Also, refreshments and door prizes will be available. It is a great opportunity for anyone interested in art, business or bikes to find out more.

Aspire of WNY is a comprehensive provider of programs and services for adults and children with developmental disabilities including, but not limited to, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, autism, traumatic brain injury and other neurological impairments. Aspire envisions full participation of individuals with disabilities so that they may live their lives to the fullest in keeping with their informed choices. The agency employs approximately 3,200 people in locations throughout Western New York. For more information, visit www.aspirewny.org.