#PeopleOfWilmDE: Laura Wilburn

Laura Wilburn is the Executive Director of Urban Bike Project, as well as this week’s #PeopleofWilmDE! Read her story below: 

Urban Bike Project in Wilmington, DE
Laura Wilburn of Urban Bike Project

“I grew up in the Prices Corner area, just outside of Wilmington. I went to Shortlidge Elementary School, Stanton Middle, and Charter School of Wilmington for high school. My first job was waitressing at the Friendly’s on Kirkwood Highway. I could tell some great stories from those days, but I don’t want to publicly throw anyone under the bus. I guess those folks probably still live in Delaware, although that Friendly’s has since closed. I went to college outside of DC, and then moved to Bozeman Montana for a couple years where I served as an AmeriCorps volunteer then worked for a non-profit. It was a temporary gig, so when it was up and I didn’t have any plans for afterwards, I figured I’d move back to Delaware. I actually shipped my stuff to my parents’ house and rode my bicycle 3,000 miles back home. I figured the move was temporary until I figured out what was next, but then I stumbled on this incredible opportunity with Urban Bike Project. Today I live in the Brandywine Village neighborhood, near Shortlidge Elementary (my old stomping grounds!) and Brandywine Park.

It’s a beautiful city, but it’s really all about the people for me. I met my wife here. My family is close by, and I’ve met so many awesome people that I’ve had the honor to befriend. It’s easy to feel part of a community here. I live on a great street and I love sitting on my front porch and yakking with neighbors. I also have good friends who live in the Cool Springs neighborhood, and sometimes I get to feel like an honorary resident. That neighborhood is really special and connected. My one friend knocked down the fence between her and her neighbor’s back yard to create a larger shared yard. Slowly more fences get knocked down and the shared yard gets bigger. I call it the 7th Street Commune. I think they have their own name for it.

I think one of the very coolest things about working in Wilmington is how easy it is to work collaboratively. It’s essentially like living in a small town. When I first got started as Executive Director of Urban Bike Project, Andrew McKnight with the Challenge Program kind of took me under his wing. He believed in our mission and introduced me to funders and major players in the area. And it wasn’t hard to get to know the right people. I love building relationships, and how much more we can accomplish collectively!

Photography by Brian Windle

Urban Bike Project gets a lot of my time. But through UBP, I get to interact with the community daily. I get to work with kids and adults from all different neighborhoods. Biking is awesome that way – people of all ages, shapes, sizes and colors can enjoy it. It brings people together.

Well, I guess I’ll admit I got bit by the local pride bug when Biden got elected and important things for the nation were happening right here on Market Street. It was cool to have our little city on the map. Personally, my proud moments are small, everyday ones. When I’m out and about wearing an Urban Bike Project t-shirt and someone’s eyes light up and they want to talk to me about how much we helped them. Or when all the kids from across the street pile up at our door every Wednesday evening waiting for Youth Shop to open. It’s fulfilling to know that we’re making a difference, and spreading awareness, and serving as a valued resource for our neighborhood.

I think a lot of people got to sort of reassess their priorities over the last year. I hope that translates into collective action. I’m excited to see what changes we decide to make as a community, and how we can leverage the trials of 2020 to come back stronger than before.”

Check out Laura Wilburn on Facebook and get more information on Urban Bike Project on Instagram and on their website

Read more #PeopleOfWilmDE posts here. To nominate next week’s #PeopleOfWilmDE, email us at info@wilmtoday.com . Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok.

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