How to motovate people to help
How about discussion & ideas on getting the John Q Public involved in club orgainized workdays. Seems there are lot's of cheerleaders yet not enough doers!
We advertise our workdays in advance yet it's always the same 10 or so show up! Great guys! but it would be nice to grow the group and have more help from neebees or outsiders!
Same here lots of gabbers and blabbers but not a lot of doers. Suggestions would be great as some trailwork days have been horrible and always the same people.
Originally Posted by NEPMTBA
We are trying some food and gear brides this year, who knows if it will work or not. I have also been refusing to disclose the location of cool trails to those who don't show up.
Frankly I think everyone who rides a mountain bike on FS or BLM should have to pay a yearly $20 fee for trail maintenance.
you get ten peeps? hell thats good.
i'm not going to qualify myself in saying i have the answers but this is a topic that interests me, as i have had and seen moderate to outstanding success in some respects.
i think if success is to be had, you have to actively sell the project. By selling the project i mean find multiple key reasons why this work is important. Simple yet descriptive, relay pertinent issues regarding past, present, future. From this always be aware of how this relates to what mountain bikers want, and be creative in expressing how this will get them closer to these goals.
Listen to the community and get a pulse on what's really going on out there. Try to find trail builders who build illegally and find out what the issues are. Find out what similar goals we have and try to communicate how building together will strengthen our ability to have more opportunity. Be it dirt jumps, XC trails, freeride etc...
Lend freedom for innovation if opportunities arise. Select crew leaders that know their stuff, but will also allow for feedback. Projects can get monopolized, i think it's important that within the framework to allow for variation if possible.
Proper equipment for the job, and crew leader/s that are in tune with the motivation of the crew. Perhaps you have a few vocal ambitious folk that egg you on to finish more of the project, but take the pulse of the others so that perhaps they will return. Don't drag people out for a death march, some people just can't hang.
Thank you thank you thank you. You can never thank people enough and be free to show the gratitude for folk that have taken time to volunteer. There is a fellow in our club that cooks meals after the work party is done, now that's fine appreciation, and creative.
Understand that many people are willing to work, but they limit themselves to working only on trails they ride, and trails that accommodate their style of riding. Again this takes selling, and it's an uphill sell. But it's absolutely true that advocacy through the action of trail work shown by mountain bikers can get more opportunity for everybody, and secure access for more and different trails and styles of trails. Ultimately it's each individuals perogative, but by reaching out and networking, perhaps that message will reach people in time if repeated.
Personally i think that it comes down to if people like to do trailwork or not. And also critical is if people have time. You can also find support from people through donations, if they don't have time, perhaps they would want to invest in tools.
i think moving away from tactics like guilting people to show, and other negatives will eventually hurt more than help. i think supporting ride leaders, getting on board with beginner rides, supporting instructors who teach mountain bike skills classes. Basically anything at all that has to do with growing mountain biking will help. Some new riders within the ranks will grow to appreciate trail work. But don't actively hold it against folk who don't, it's pointless.
Campouts and rides work out well. And i think that if it's possible place dates well in advance. Be prepared and organized for the contingency for small or great numbers.
Use the internet, bike stores, and your own bikey network and get the word out.
As some may know i've been involved with the Seattle Colonnade Mountain Bike Skills Park for years. Just yesterday i met some riders with some friends who lived and worked in Seattle. They just found out about Colonnade only a week ago. Were absolutely amazed and wanting to help out. We discussed how we are only a few months away from the end of construction and how valuable and appreciated their help would be.
Keep sending out the word, make the experience the best you can, and don't too discouraged. Leading crews of over 10 people become harder work juggling tasks to keep people busy it's way more exhausting than actually working. So be careful what you ask for.
Skooks as usualllll
It's really important to stay positive, which can be difficult at times. Glass is at least half full, always.
When the IMBA TCC came to town they gave our club a great presentation about building community through mountain biking events that was very inspiring. We are still working ways to do this, but the idea is to make people feel included in thier local mountain bikign community ( both physically:location and emotionally:socially) Usuable ideas include fun events, food, food and a social atmosphere, friendly. Catzilla made a good point that that not all things at work parties are about swinging big tools. You need cookie bakers, get parents/kids involved and more.
Most people I know don't go to work days for the schwag, they go for the personal satisfaction of taking care of the trails or being able to day "I helped build that".
Negativity is a real downer for work days. We have a guy in our area who would block the trail and stop riders; make them get off their bikes and say something like, "if you ride these trails you should be doing trail work on them". It was embarrassing to be around.
I think the long range planning piece is important ( we are still working on that!!!) and also publicity. Flyers at LBS, email notices are good. We have a general public email list for mountain bikers that is close to 300 people, and if we can get our info out ahead of time, the local REI sends it out to over 7000 people.
I figure if we get just one or two new faces each time, we are doing good.
Like every other advocacy organization out there we could easily double or triple the number of volunteers and still use more. So, we don't have all the answers but I think these items work.
1. Make it as easy as possible for people to volunteer. We are lucky enough to have a tool trail filled with tools, which we purchased with a REI Grant, so we have all the tools we need on hand at the trial work day. If volunteers are asked to bring their own tools I think is makes them less likely to show up.
2. Tell your volunteers "No experience necessary". Make sure it is included on all trail day promotional materials.
3. Don't work your volunteers too long or too hard. Keep work days to no more than 3 hours. Tell them to work at their own pace.
4. Always, always provide lunch. Your volunteers deserve it.
5. Swag. Have a drawing for a small door prize. It doesn't have to be something expensive.
6. Let your volunteers know you appreciate them. Thank them at the beginning of the event and when they are leaving.
Cool, not to derail, but we were able to do the same with a grant from OUR REI!!!
We are lucky enough to have a tool trail filled with tools, which we purchased with a REI Grant,
We corral unsuspecting riders on the trail with a welcoming party with machetes, push them off their bikes, hand them tools, show'em what to do. and turn'em loose after an hour .....and give them a warm bottle of water, too. Just for appriciation
IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU'RE NOT RIDING (or building)!
I've seen the "please get off and walk" thing to. It was a SORBA work party I haven't asked riders to do it myself. We have blocked the trail, how can you not if you're doing a reroute? Walking simply becomes the only way through. Walking is probably a safety thing to do with a bunch of people swinging pulaskis. We have started to use "trail under construction" signs as well.
Originally Posted by formica
I happen to agree with "if you ride these trails you should work on them" sentiment. That 5 seconds may be the only time they get exposed to the notion of trailwork. The pitch could be done more tastefully though. "you guys wanna help out for a few minutes, we have some extra tools".
maybe it was the presentation, I dunno.
10 ain't so bad
Howdy. I have helped design and build and coordinate the trailwork down at the Sals trails near Bethlehem. Sounds like we all are experiencing the same thing, a plateauing of the turnout.
I would consider 10 guys showing up that kick ass a pretty good turnout! We have had up to maybe 25 show on days in the past. Usually, it was a nice day in the late fall or early winter when we had good turnout and the trail section was particularly important, such as finishing a loop or whatever. Otherwise it was 5-6 which is OK but not that great. We also do impromptu work sessions and can get a few guys to show up for repairs ,maintenance or hiking/flagging new trails .
I've found that scheduling the days out pretty far in advance helps. This doesn't always fit with my lifestyle though .
One of the local guys has a few teenage kids and they all ride. These are pretty big guys for their age and they have showed up for several sessions. The sons get credit for community service from their schools for working on the trails. This is an angle to explore, getting people that need to do community service for some reason. I'm talking about school kids mostly, but maybe even some outdoor types with minor legal problems!
One more method I want to try is a craigslist volunteer listing and possibly getting some hiking groups interested in building trails. Good luck!
I find most mountain bikers are independent types that aren't into joining groups and many are young and still expect others too pick up the slack. I did a volunteer trailwork day on the Tahoe Rim trail and I was the only MTB'r in the group. Where I live, I'm the one man trail crew because I work for 10-12 hours a day and haven't found anyone that can work and hike with tools that long and I don't like lowering my standards to acccomodate the slow folks. I think that bikers need to understand that the trail probably didn't get maintained by a "Ranger" or paid crew but by folks just like themselves. When I'm working on a trail and people come by, they may give a quick "Hi", but never seem to be interested in who I am or what I'm doing. I'm sure they think I'm a Forest Service employee. I always try to strike up a conversation with them and explain that I'm just a MTB'r maintaining the trail. No one has ever offered help, but that's cool, I probably look a little scarry when I'm covered with dust. Anyway, sorry I'm not much help, just giving my personal observation.
We've just tried another approach - send money.
Over time we have done and do press releases, newspaper articles, announcements via web, mail lists and print material in shops (posters and brochures with calendar). On top of that the club has had periods where efforts for more social events are tried. All of that does little more than bring the few replacements for those who move on. We sit in a bike focused area and the shadows of the headquarters Trek, Pacific and Saris and still struggle. REI's events are the one draw for more than 1-10 volunteers.
We have a new www site and printed business cards this year and hand them out to users hoping they'll register at our web site and be more aware. We hope drawing people to the www site will make them aware of what's here, what's up and what's at stake.
From what I read and hear we're not alone with our scenario.
Some have said we need to advertise our trails more. That seems to do more to get them used and abused than get people to work days. Our biggest and best is also very different than the biggest trail draw in the region. That may have an effect. It is an area with more vertical than any ski area in the state and with rocks, and stream crossings where the place that draws riders from Chicago and Milwaukee is a great and fun but a network of tame and easy XC trail by comparison. Our best makes racers bleed and cry.
The new send money idea comes from knowing how much just two of us got done with thousands from a grant. We do work on and are working on grants but now we have a PayPal link on our www site. It will be interesting to see if our PayPal link is a worthy addition to our working at grants and gifts.
If anybody's interested in our site and/or feeling generous:
Good luck all.
Another twist: give money...
Our local SORBA chapter here in Asheville has worked with the local bike shops (all of them, I think) to give credit for trail work performed. Volunteers receive wooden tokens worth $5 that can be traded for store credit. Each time I've volunteered, I've received TWO tokens! I don't think that any reimbursement is necessary, but if the local merchants (why limit just to bike shops?) agree and are willing to contribute to the future of our trails, then why not? Not only does it help create goodwill, but it also gets people into the stores.
Perhaps another small fee, like what Bikes Belongs does, could be attached to every new MTB sale. Provide a note with the owner's manual explaining the importance of trail work, encouraging volunteering and club membership, and describing the type of work that will be done with that money.
Texas used to have a system where a rider could earn first-place points by volunteering their time on course prep, but I found dealing with some whiney racers more trouble than it was worth. You typically don't want people who don't want to be there.
Articles in the local free outdoor mag? Explain that this is a crisis and the harm that erosion causes. Get word out whenever possible. Look for alternative channels.
Get Oprah to talk about it. That usually works.
How about this..
Make it fun, the whole guilt trip thing doesen't really work, it will just give people a negative attitude towards trail work.
If you tell a group of people how much fun they will have fixing a problem section of trail and how much fun it will be to rip the new supa fun section they build, it will usually fire them up to get involved.
And remember, the guys you harass for riding through while you are doing trail work probably do trail work somewhere else that you ride as well so its a give and take. I used to get harassed at a park for not doing trail maintenance and I know those that harassed me rode my trails so it really pissed me off.
First thing is I have to explain to others that I know and frequently ride in your territory.
The first step you have to make is of course, not guilt tripping people.
The second step is looking inward and changing your own behavior because you're a difficult person to deal with and have lots of extremist ideas that are way out there. You've HELPED build great trails, but all people hear from you, including the nasty PM's you've sent me is "ME ME ME and I I I". Never do you thank people or include them in with the praise you give yourself.
Let it be known to others in this thread that Prompton is truly a world class trail, so the work can and will be done, but it's the attitude of the OP that scares people away out there.
some people just arent into what you're into. we live in a world where sitting on your ass and watching tv reigns supreme, getting 10 people out to do hard manual labor for free, just for the sake of loving the sport is pretty awesome!
We have a about 20 chapters throughout VT, each run their own trailwork sessions, some clubs get 4-6 volunteers, others get 40+ on a regular basis. My view on trail-work, is that if you ride, you should get out and help, not on any specific trail, just do it somewhere, that's all. I have no guilt about riding elsewhere, where I haven't done trail work.
Strategies - post trail sessions well in advance, be on time, plan the project in advance, do a group introduction of peoples names - this is very important, it makes the newbies feel welcome, break up the cliques of the regulars, have them lead small groups, keep it to 3 hours, with a distinct project that gives a sense of completion. Ask a local bar to donate a gift cert and go for a beer after.
There's no excuse for not helping, "i'm too busy", doesn't fly, I'm busy too, when I hear it, it translates to "i'm too lazy". Some folks will never help, ignore them and move on. PK
I've been having good luck with large corporations who have mandatory community service for their employees. Whole Foods Market, Intel, etc....
They don't work very long, maybe 3 hours, but the numbers are there plus they're on the company clock.
Easy, keg or couple cases of cold microbrew post work. Works like a charm.
Tell them there will be punch and pie. Just kidding. If you got 10 or so guys, coincider yourself lucky. Its usually me and another dude who do the building on our trail. We do occasionally get some random help. On the up side, we are usually the only ones who ride it so there is very little upkeep needed. I would give up one of my bikes for a group of ten builders/riders.
"At that point man, your just riding your bike."
Guys lot's of Great responses.
From most I see the "Offer them Beer" -- get them good and drunk, hand them a chainsaw... oh sorry that's how we do it in the motorcycle club ------LOL!
I like the ideas of corporate help, and this requires a whole different approach. Where as the average trail workday leader sees it as just go to the trail and wait for people to show up to help, has to be looked at as the trail person going to the corporate offices to sell the idea of a partnership. Hum, very different approach almost to the fact of looking for people to hire on a trade basis to do the trail work!
I, have noticed controversy works!
If the trail is threatened or blocked by downed trees and unridable then people respond better. Where as if it "Hey let's just clean up the trails" people figure someone else will do it! Both are important tasks weather it be trimming pickers that rip your arms to shreds or major work.
Like Jerk Chicken says "I'm WAY out there and total EXTREME, might come across as pushy or know it all. Not at all... Passionate about riding and keeping open all areas... YES. I think some people look at it as "Who does he think he is" Well, you know I could just go ride my motorcycle or mt bike and do "NO TRAIL WORK" at all! (insert here yes Lee go do that -- LOL) Too bad typing doesn't show emotion, and just last night I thanked Jeff and the Mt Top crew for all they do everywhere, as I have done many times on our website and elsewhere. So it's not about Me ME mE or I I i, but I go out of my way to help and organize everywhere to make sure we all have great trails to ride!
It's not about "ME" but rather "YOU" and what you want to do! At least if "YOU* decide to do trail work you can call "ME" and I will try very hard to pry myself away from a trail project to help you and yours!
If more people just went out and did "ONE" thing to improve a trail it would be fantastic!
Thanks for the responses keep'em coming... lots of great info
If anyone is in VT - check out the 'Governors Conference on Recreation' in October. There is a presentation specifically about recruiting and managing groups of corporate/business volunteers for trail work. The presentation will be led by Mike Smith from Pine Hill Park in Rutland, VT, Mike is the Vice Chair of VMBA, and the brains behind the Pine Hill trails - genius. PM me, and i'll connect you with Mike. PK
Give one day a year.
This is the message we are going to try and use next year. If people feel like they were doing their part by giving one day maybe they will show up knowing they have done their part. If we could get 100 people to give one day that would be 300 hours. Seem so simple but maybe it will work. We are also going to set up 6 days, three in the spring and three in the fall. Advertise them using the Radio, flyers and REI. We will get the days out early so people have time to plan ahead. We will also provide food and swag. The ideas above came from the following members if you have any questions for them.
Vicipher, Irishbudda, Smilycook, SWIMBA trail committee.
If you ain't hike you ain't Mnt Bikin