Original Okie: Ren Barger

by Michael Cooper


Ren Barger stands in what would be a graveyard of bicycle parts to many–but not to her. Barger finds herself in all of the frames, wheels, chains, and seats. The head of Tulsa Hub, a non-profit dedicated to providing bikes to those truly in need of one, Ren embodies the kind of peace achieved through volunteering. She says that dedicating herself to the Hub was a meant-to-be decision, and the organization began to thrive soon after her commitment.

The bicycles are donated–some in a functional state, some wholly unusable–and are eventually brought up to standard by volunteer mechanics, hence the sea of bicycle parts that fill the Hub’s headquarters. Barger told me that bike shops in town like Lee’s and Tom’s have been instrumental in helping her find just the right parts. The bikes, restored or sometimes entirely new, are then donated to to the needy who are referred to the Hub by the likes of Day Center for the Homeless, Salvation Army, and The Mental Health Association among others. Once mobile, a new world of possibilities opens up.

As we walked the streets of downtown after the photo shoot, I got a strong sense of Barger’s love for Tulsa. We both agreed that the city is in a state of transition. With downtown development on the rise, and urban corners slowly being re-awakened from a long slumber, it is up to us to get our hands dirty and mold our city into the place we want it to be.

True Tulsa is a weekly project that highlights the people and places that make our city great.