Alumni profiles: Robin Ellis

Grads get into bikes and branding

Photo provided by Robin Ellis.

Robin Ellis – Bachelor of environmental design, 2012

While pursuing her degree, Robin Ellis began to critically observe the world around her.

“I began to recognize the influence of my actions in the space around me, and I gained trust in the capability of my own hands,” said Ellis.

“It gave me a new sense of perspective and scale and, most importantly, ignited a kind of fearlessness that I have carried with me through each new creative pursuit.”

After graduating, Ellis took on a position at a project-managing company called Creative Spaces Inc. She became intimately familiar with the building construction process, and had the opportunity to prepare schematic design proposals for several home renovation projects.

Over the past eight years, Ellis has been involved in Winnipeg community bike shops that started at the bike dump, a place that offers the opportunity for bike repair and education among other things.

After a fulfilling term at Creative Spaces Inc., Ellis took on a position at the Winnipeg Repair Education and Cycling Hub (WRENCH) to work in a more community-focused environment.

The WRENCH is an organization that promotes education, mobility, skill-sharing, and recycling through the teaching of bicycle mechanics, and “learning through doing.”

With the WRENCH, Ellis was able to organize community-based programming. Over the past year her focus has been primarily on programs for women and girls.

By enhancing the health, safety, and well-being of inner-city women, empowering marginalized women through skill-building programming, and increasing the number of female mechanics in volunteer bike shops, Ellis has taken a more community-focused career path that still satisfies her passion to create.

“I am drawn to organizations such as WRENCH, Bike Again!, and Dal Bike Centre because of their grassroots approach to fostering community, inclusivity, and independence, all while offering mobility, employable skills, and a shared experience of city and space.”

Ellis – now pursuing a master’s degree in architecture at Dalhousie University – has been greatly influenced by her participation in bike culture and community services.

“My primary area of interest for my thesis is community-centred design. I intend to pursue research in the realm of bicycle-related public projects to explore how architectural designs can be used as a means to bring about social change.”