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Thread: IMBA and change

  1. #1
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    IMBA and change

    There have been a few threads lately discussing the love'em or hate'em opinions of IMBA.

    This thread is specifically focused on how IMBA needs to change or evolve or focus their energy. Some chapters are actually dropping their affiliation with IMBA and the question for us is why, and is their reasoning valid and worth discussing amongst our local chapters?

    This is not meant to be a b•tch fest nor is it meant yo be a love fest either. It is meant to help IMBA choose their course for the future.

    Without getting all passionate, uppity, or holier than thou, state your back ground with IMBA, your issue, how and if it was resolved. This is meant to be constructive endeavor, if you can't get there, don't chime in...
    He/she who works the trails does so in their own image.

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    Been an IMBA member since 2001. Our club has been a SORBA/IMBA chapter since 2010. Only real issue we ever had was getting our member database integrated with IMBA and accessing it with the CiviCRM site. That and getting our chapter checked during new and renewal memberships. Was handled by Jason B. with IMBA and us updating our membership links on our website. Haven't had any problems since then.

    I will preface that we have been a club since 1990 (almost as long as SORBA and IMBA) and have pretty much had our own autonomy, our own 501c3 status and done our advocacy "in house" as it were. Our reason for becoming a chapter had more to do with becoming part of the bigger group and not really so much needing help from either group.

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    I was an IMBA member for some years, but when I had to reduce my charitable giving, dropped them in favor of my local club. I don't really have issues with IMBA.

    I think any organization will have members leaving and members joining. What's critical is whether more folks are leaving than joining. So my questions back to you are: What are the reasons chapters choose to leave, and are the numbers significant?

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    Re: IMBA and change

    Quote Originally Posted by HarryCallahan View Post
    So my questions back to you are: What are the reasons chapters choose to leave, and are the numbers significant?
    That is point of this thread. To pin down the discourse and to see what the clubs want that they don't feel they are receiving from the organization.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    There have been a few threads lately discussing the love'em or hate'em opinions of IMBA.

    This thread is specifically focused on how IMBA needs to change or evolve or focus their energy. Some chapters are actually dropping their affiliation with IMBA and the question for us is why, and is their reasoning valid and worth discussing amongst our local chapters?

    This is not meant to be a b•tch fest nor is it meant yo be a love fest either. It is meant to help IMBA choose their course for the future.

    Without getting all passionate, uppity, or holier than thou, state your back ground with IMBA, your issue, how and if it was resolved. This is meant to be constructive endeavor, if you can't get there, don't chime in...
    What Chapters have left IMBA voluntarily? Are there any?
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    I know of one that was kicked out of SORBA.

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    I would like to hear about examples. I know there are some great east coast clubs that do local/regional work and are not IMBA affiliated, but I don't think most of them started out as IMBA clubs and left in disgust or anything.

    -Walt

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    IMBA has 148 chapters at this point in time. Previously, three chapters lost their status because of late/missing filings with the IRS, but they are likely to reapply for chapter status once those issues have been resolved.

    One chapter lost its status because it did not want to follow IMBA policy in regards to land access issues.

    There have been no instances of IMBA chapters asking to leave the program, revert to club status or otherwise voluntarily end their affiliation with IMBA.

    -- Mark E (IMBA Communications Director)

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    Thanks Mark. That's good information to have at the front end of this discussion.
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    If no one has a legitimate beef with IMBA or change they feel is necessary, then there should be a lot less whining in the future.
    He/she who works the trails does so in their own image.

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    The number of chapters that have left IMBA for whatever reason is not a complete picture, it does not address the number of clubs or organizations that did not or will not become chapters of the IMBA. Just sayin. The bias makes the data useless.

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    If a club or organization chooses not be become part of IMBA, it is a problem or just a difference of opinion? Lots of clubs have done well for themselves and not joined. Others have joined and, as it appears, none left.

    There is no rule that says you have to play by their rules. Don't like it? Don't join. It is pretty simple.
    Apathy will get you exactly what you deserve

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    Re: IMBA and change

    Quote Originally Posted by bankerboy View Post
    If

    Don't like it? Don't join. It is pretty simple.
    No kidding.

    But this is about the bigger picture. A lot of folks are anti IMBA and we are trying to pin down why. Aside from the typical arguments based on ignorance and the stereotyping of sustainable trails as dumbed down, I am not seeing the valid points against them.

    I personally want to see more advocacy locally and to see the regional reps leading the charge at important meetings.

    Maybe the regional reps are the ones that need more support?
    He/she who works the trails does so in their own image.

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    Yeah, I think you nailed it- ignorance and stereotyping. I don't think IMBA will lose clubs, but it might lose individual members that are ignorant of trail design. Maybe IMBA needs to get some pro freerider or downhiller that the kids look up to, to be a spokesperson for sustainable trails. Perhaps a cool young guy with tatoos instead of a nerdy older guy. The nerd guys should be used for trips to Washington, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    No kidding.

    But this is about the bigger picture. A lot of folks are anti IMBA and we are trying to pin down why. Aside from the typical arguments based on ignorance and the stereotyping of sustainable trails as dumbed down, I am not seeing the valid points against them.

    I personally want to see more advocacy locally and to see the regional reps leading the charge at important meetings.

    Maybe the regional reps are the ones that need more support?



    You probably have a very valid point, top down is a model that rarely succeeds. But, I would suggest that rather than regional support it should be more local than that. Ideas and opinions tend to get lost at large scale. My two cents.

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    All the angst is because of the whole Sedona situation (about which I know very little) and it's unfortunate because it's now impossible to discuss IMBA without crazed rants being interjected.

    -Walt

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    No kidding.

    But this is about the bigger picture. A lot of folks are anti IMBA and we are trying to pin down why. Aside from the typical arguments based on ignorance and the stereotyping of sustainable trails as dumbed down, I am not seeing the valid points against them.

    I personally want to see more advocacy locally and to see the regional reps leading the charge at important meetings.

    Maybe the regional reps are the ones that need more support?
    A lot of folks? Compared to what? Certainly there are some folks who are very vocal and use the interwebz to amplify their voice, but are they really significant compared to the amount of people who appreciate and support what IMBA does? I'm not really sure there's a truly accurate way to nail that down without some real, statistically valid polling, but my gut feeling about this subject and similar threads is a few people speak loudly, a lot of people either reply with snark and sarcasm or try to present counter arguments in a calm and rational manner, and most people watch from the sidelines more or less indifferent.

    Regardless of what you see in bike porn vids and glossy MTB photos in mags, it's my observation that the vast majority of MTBers do what is labeled these days as "XC" or "trail" riding. (still not really sure what "AM" is supposed to mean, "XC" or "trail" riding, going slower on the ups (or shuttling) and faster on the downs on a bike with 6"+ of suspension that weights 30+ lbs I guess).
    Go to just about any riding area with stacked loops or a variety of types of trails and you'll see the vast majority of use on less technical or moderately technical trails. The hyper technical trails with big drops and serious injury potential get very little traffic comparatively.

    IMBA and most land managers know this and try to put their most effort into projects that serve the most people. That isn't to say that IMBA, or many land managers are inherently against more technical/expert trails as long as they can be done sustainably, but the numbers and demand will, at least for now, favor a higher ratio of trails suited to where most of the demand is with fewer "advanced" trails than what they describe as "dumbed down" or "boring" trails.

    There are also a fairly small in proportion to the overall number of people who feel they should be able to build/burn in trails without any land manager oversight and become very upset and indignant with anybody who questions their perceived entitlement or enforces the law.

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    I think the angst is bigger than one particular place. I hear a lot grumbling and I am on the other side of the country.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    (about which I know very little) .

    -Walt
    Correct, and just because some people rant does not mean their opinions are not valid or valued.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ View Post
    Correct, and just because some people rant does not mean their opinions are not valid or valued.
    The same individuals who continually rant on the same subject actually do dilute their opinions...and the value they once had is greatly diminished.

    Those "few threads" started lately on this subject are exactly that....the same individuals ranting on the same subject in different forums.

    The question on why chapters were leaving IMBA has been answered - none have....and one was dropped due to policy differences.

    Why hasn't anyone answered the "Ask a BLM guy for advice" thread here? You'd think having an insider offering invaluable first hand advice on how to approach trail building on our shared public lands would be the top thread in this forum.
    Ask a BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHUM View Post
    The same individuals who continually rant on the same subject actually do dilute their opinions...and the value they once had is greatly diminished.

    Those "few threads" started lately on this subject are exactly that....the same individuals ranting on the same subject in different forums.

    The question on why chapters were leaving IMBA has been answered - none have....and one was dropped due to policy differences.

    Why hasn't anyone answered the "Ask a BLM guy for advice" thread here? You'd think having an insider offering invaluable first hand advice on how to approach trail building on our shared public lands would be the top thread in this forum.
    Ask a BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner



    That thread got hijacked by a couple of sock puppets whom were allowed to derail it, it fell down the page and was lost to the ages. I would also suggest that dealing with the BLM is a walk in the park compared to any dealings with the Forrest Circus (yes I have had a few) so the interest is not as high. I would also point to the IMBA being the sponsor of this sub forum and that the continued negative comments from mods gives an appearance of toeing party line. Pointing out what might be solutions is frowned upon since when? A discussion ceases to be one when one side is stifled by authority. With all due respect this thread was pretty civil until Walt jumped in with his antagonistic comments.

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    Re: IMBA and change

    Quote Originally Posted by CHUM View Post
    The same individuals who continually rant on the same subject actually do dilute their opinions...and the value they once had is greatly diminished.

    Those "few threads" started lately on this subject are exactly that....the same individuals ranting on the same subject in different forums.

    The question on why chapters were leaving IMBA has been answered - none have....and one was dropped due to policy differences.

    Why hasn't anyone here answered the "Ask a BLM guy for advice" thread here? You'd think having an insider offering invaluable first hand advice on how to approach trail building on our shared public lands would be the top thread in this forum.
    Ask a BLM Outdoor Recreation Planner

    Chapter leaders deal with land managers on a continual basis. Its not a big secret how to deal with LMs. Just check out the IMBA handbook....

    This issue is bigger than any one land manager. Also, every land manager and org they represent is different and should be approached as such.

    I love that the BLM guy is here and offered himself up for discussion. He should be a huge asset to anyone dealing with the BLM. Probably not that much help for someone dealing with a state park or the USFS.
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    Re: IMBA and change

    I am just trying to cut through the hearsay, crap, and misdirection.

    My opinion of certain aspects of IMBA have changed over the last couple of months. And for the better I might add.

    But when people are talking about IMBA and using unethical as an adjective, it seems like its worth getting to the bottom it.

    I have asked members to post up their beef, with no real takers. It seems that the Sedona debacle has left a bad taste for some but it doesn't appear like it needs to be rehashed again.

    I also know of a couple of chapters that are considering dropping their status, but I doubt they will.
    He/she who works the trails does so in their own image.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    I am just trying to cut through the hearsay, crap, and misdirection.

    My opinion of certain aspects of IMBA have changed over the last couple of months. And for the better I might add.

    But when people are talking about IMBA and using unethical as an adjective, it seems like its worth getting to the bottom it.

    I have asked members to post up their beef, with no real takers. It seems that the Sedona debacle has left a bad taste for some but it doesn't appear like it needs to be rehashed again.

    I also know of a couple of chapters that are considering dropping their status, but I doubt they will.


    It's all a journey, no? I appreciate that you will engage the members here. I have no ill will towards your organization and was simply pointing out an observation. I really have no dog in this fight other than that observation, do what you will with it.

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    That is true, but when your medium is the written word, you can't persuade anyone if your writing doesn't make sense. The paranoid jeremiad is SOP for the internet, I know, but when you start talking about how people don't "know the real story" (tell it!) and can't encapsulate your grievances in a concise way (or even answer basic questions about what you dislike or want to change) you just end up hurting your own cause. That's pretty much what happened with the previous threads.

    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by AZ View Post
    Correct, and just because some people rant does not mean their opinions are not valid or valued.

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    As I said in the previous post the ambient population in this forum come together here for support. That throws the point of view in a pro IMBA direction by sheer numbers. To make the assumption that this represents the majority opinion of Mtb in general is both mistaken, unsubstantiated, and begs the question from the outset.
    As one who has participated in an extensive thread on a very closely related thread of over 10,000 views it's pretty clear to me that this is no place to get what this thread asks for. It is very unwelcome to opposition and the pro-IMBA balm flows very quickly and is smothering. It is in the language used. It is very clear to me but so much a part of the mien of this forum that people can't or won't see it.

    I made my views clear, and wrestled, and clarified, and had to manage plenty of direction from mods. There aren't a lot of people willing or able to do that.
    I don't rattle.

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    Mike

    So to be concise and distill your opinion, throw out a few bullet points with your concerns or changes you would like to see with IMBA.

    THANKS


    I think there will always be a large positive slant of opinion for IMBA, and rightly so. But they aren't perfect and will always have room to grow. It is discussions like this that will hopefully bear fruit as IMBA and mountain biking gain momentum.
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    I would think the real issue is reflected in numbers. As a chapter, we know how many IMBA members are in the area; for us it is ~ 120. Various estimates from bike shops, land managers, observed trail traffic, etc. there are ~ 1000-2000 mountain bikers who live locally and many more who drive from 50-100 miles away to ride here, plus all the university dads who spend extra days or visit more often to ride.

    It all comes back to Walt's last blog post, but why do riders not see value?

    On trail work days we ask why the 25-200 (yes, really!) volunteers who show up why they are not IMBA members, and they state IMBA offers them no benefits. There is a large gap between what IMBA "thinks" they do, and what the mountain bikers "think" IMBA offers. What can IMBA do about that? IMBA seems very disconnected from the majority of mountain bikers, they are just not reaching their audience. That would tell me the message needs to change.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    That is point of this thread. To pin down the discourse and to see what the clubs want that they don't feel they are receiving from the organization.
    When I first read this response, it struck me as circular and evasive. It still does, even if you didn't mean it that way. But other folks are treating this thread as legitimate, not a troll, so here are a few thoughts.

    What I see repeated in this thread is my initial comment that folks don't see value added from IMBA. I had occasion years past to reach out to an IMBA rep when the state or area rep was a volunteer. They were polite and knowledgable, but couldn't provide much focused, prolonged help.

    The situation has changed somewhat with the hiring of our state rep. That's a savvy, long term investment by IMBA. But the average local club is still not going to see much immediate help. And most folks deal in the here and now. They want help opening trails, gaining access, legal or technical help in wrestling with local agencies who are obstructionist. Where is IMBA on these kinds of issues?

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    I don't know - when I was more involved with advocacy (I'm on a bit of a sabbatical with family commitments right now) we were *constantly* using IMBA materials to push for access/apply for grants or funding/refute commonly misconceptions ("bikes cause more erosion than hikers"), etc. We also were able to call on local IMBA folks to show up and speak at a variety of meetings (ie city council, open space board/info sessions, etc) as "expert witnesses".

    The caveat is that this was in CO where IMBA is based so of course many of the folks at IMBA had a personal stake in the outcome.

    I guess what I would like to see is more from IMBA in terms of communicating about the *process*, especially the process that precedes actual trailbuilding.

    Most people don't see the sausage-making/deal-cutting/absolute boredom that has to happen at the political level to allow boots, tools, and tires to hit the dirt. Sometimes that process takes years, sometimes it takes decades, sometimes it just keeps dead ending. Obviously we don't need to see every bit of detail on every bit of bureaucratic wrangling, but it would be nice to see some communication of "failure" or "work in progress" stories as well so that people understand that it's not just about getting excited and digging.

    In a way, I guess this means that I'd like to see more "negative" PR from IMBA. I want to hear about the tough battles for access that we're winning, but also the ones we're losing/have lost/are winning slowly, and why, so that I'll know more about how to proceed locally and have realistic expectations.

    The bottom line is that a lot of people expect IMBA to be able to just roll in and work miracles. They cannot, obviously. But they have helped to create the impression that they can because we seldom hear about intractable problems or tough situations.

    -Walt

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    Re: IMBA and change

    Quote Originally Posted by slocaus View Post

    On trail work days we ask why the 25-200 (yes, really!) volunteers who show up why they are not IMBA members, and they state IMBA offers them no benefits. There is a large gap between what IMBA "thinks" they do, and what the mountain bikers "think" IMBA offers. What can IMBA do about that? IMBA seems very disconnected from the majority of mountain bikers, they are just not reaching their audience. That would tell me the message needs to change.
    Thanks Slocaus

    Everyone should be able to find some good in IMBA. I agree about the disconnect, but I doubt IMBA agrees with you.

    The current focus seems to be growing the org and on ride centers. Maybe they will be more open to listen once the low hanging fruit have dried up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    Mike

    So to be concise and distill your opinion, throw out a few bullet points with your concerns or changes you would like to see with IMBA.

    THANKS


    I think there will always be a large positive slant of opinion for IMBA, and rightly so. But they aren't perfect and will always have room to grow. It is discussions like this that will hopefully bear fruit as IMBA and mountain biking gain momentum.
    No. I have already done that in the long thread.
    I don't rattle.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    Thanks Slocaus

    Everyone should be able to find some good in IMBA. I agree about the disconnect, but I doubt IMBA agrees with you.
    That will be the real meat of this discussion, if that can be addressed.
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    To advocate means to speak/represent others. When the "others" do not "feel" they are being represented, whether at the local or national level, the "others" see no value to get involved. One can talk until they run out of breath about all the efforts they have put forth to bring about change, to create riding opportunities for all factions of our sport, but as advocates, we are judged by results, not efforts, at least in San Diego.

    I can list a page of facts that explain what we are up against, the number one issue being the lack of cooperation between local government and State & Federal land managers to conserve land for protection while creating recreational opportunities for 3.3 million+ residents. Not only do we face rejection from local government and the land managers, we face rejection from mountain bikers.

    Whenever a project is proposed here, there is always a threat of an environmental group suing either local government or the land agencies. Until mountain bike advocates have the power to sue, we are not in the same game, here in San Diego.

    I'm leaving right this minute to participate in a mass ride protest of trail closures, organized by local riders, not SDMBA. The California Native Plant Society contacted via mass email all of SDMBA sponsors, which contained lies, misinformation, and stated SDMBA supports the mass destruction of endangered plants and that our sponsors are being included as supporting this mass destruction of endangered plants. How's that for working together?

    Do I expect anything from IMBA? We just became a Chapter. My personal opinion is IMBA cannot do anything for us. SDMBA needs to fight this crap. We've stood on our own for 18 years, I don't see anything changing. If SDMBA becomming a Chapter helps others elsewhere that is a good thing.
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    Last year, our chapter undertook a survey of current and lapsed members. One of the question threads was focused on understanding the rational behind those who did not continue their memberships after we became an IMBA chapter. Filtering out the replies that were related to personal situations, two common refrains remained:

    - As an IMBA chapter, most of their membership dollars leave state and little remains with the local organization and support the trails they ride.

    - IMBA seems "corporate", "sterile", "slick", and it's hard to trust that they have our interest at heart.

    As a chapter, we're taking steps to address these perceptions. It's not clear that we can regain these members, but the concerns they voice may be shared by others.

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    "The California Native Plant Society contacted via mass email all of SDMBA sponsors, which contained lies, misinformation, and stated SDMBA supports the mass destruction of endangered plants and that our sponsors are being included as supporting this mass destruction of endangered plants. How's that for working together?"

    This is IMO, a knee jerk tactic that has nothing to do with the truth and working your way rationally and factually through an issue.

    Ant MTB groups do it often and are no strangers to the interwebz torch and pitchfork mob mentality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren_ View Post
    Last year, our chapter undertook a survey of current and lapsed members. One of the question threads was focused on understanding the rational behind those who did not continue their memberships after we became an IMBA chapter. Filtering out the replies that were related to personal situations, two common refrains remained:

    - As an IMBA chapter, most of their membership dollars leave state and little remains with the local organization and support the trails they ride.
    ...
    It sounds like you are in a postion to comment on that. How do the numbers work out in reality?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren_ View Post
    Last year, our chapter undertook a survey of current and lapsed members. One of the question threads was focused on understanding the rational behind those who did not continue their memberships after we became an IMBA chapter. Filtering out the replies that were related to personal situations, two common refrains remained:

    - As an IMBA chapter, most of their membership dollars leave state and little remains with the local organization and support the trails they ride.

    - IMBA seems "corporate", "sterile", "slick", and it's hard to trust that they have our interest at heart.

    As a chapter, we're taking steps to address these perceptions. It's not clear that we can regain these members, but the concerns they voice may be shared by others.
    It is interesting that you choose to qualify your former members positions as a consequence of "perceptions." It is, perhaps, simply a poor choice of words. If not it assumes an ignorance, a misunderstanding, or some other limitation to the ability for those former advocacy supporters to reason without your orgs guidance and you will show the the error of their ways.

    You can see how that might sit a little funny.
    Last edited by Berkeley Mike; 01-13-2014 at 01:25 PM.
    I don't rattle.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by HarryCallahan View Post
    ... How do the numbers work out in reality?
    After all is said and done, the reality is that in our case we have more $ per member focused on local trails as an IMBA chapter than before. Some costs are lower as a chapter but the biggest impact is that a surprising number of IMBA members donate at significantly elevated levels. Perhaps it's the jersey incentives, perhaps it's the increased confidence in the organization, or perhaps they consider the greater needs when supporting both local trails and global advocacy. Whatever the reason, the message resonates with those with the means to help support us. We only get a 40% slice of the pie, but it's a much larger pie.

  40. #40
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    Loren, thanks. Interesting perspective. 60% seems like a pretty fat slice of the pie to me, but if, as you say, the pie is bigger, then it is a win for your club.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    Some chapters are actually dropping their affiliation with IMBA and the question for us is why, and is their reasoning valid and worth discussing amongst our local chapters?
    .
    So, now that it has been established that no chapter has willingly/intentionally dropped their affiliations, what is the point of this thread?
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  42. #42
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    2bf,

    Thanks for starting this tread, I had thought about doing the same. I have sat on the sidelines and read all the other threads w/o commenting but since this tread messaging is about change and what needs improvement, I can no longer bite my tongue. To play by the ground rules you have requested:

    Been a member of IMBA since the early 90s (though I dropped my membership at the beginning of 2013). Served on IMBA's Board for 6 years until Jan 2009. Have been a professional trail contractor and now just doing consulting work for over 12 years. Helped train many of the trail care crews and also some of the early IMBA Trail Solutions staff. Attended all IMBA Summits except one dating back to the first one at the Biosphere in AZ (and presented at many of them), Contributed to both IMBA books. Needless to say, I have been around the block.

    I have been impressed with the other threads and constructive criticism giving by many, and the frequency and range of posts here on MTBR about IMBA likes and dislikes says a lot to me. After all, we here on MTBR are a big part of the mountain bike community and exactly who IMBA should target for members as we tend to be very avid.

    As called for by the OP, I will make recommendations and observations of what I see and what I hear in speaking with many leaders in the mt bike advocacy world beyond IMBA and beyond MTBR.

    I travel a lot related to work (and play) and talk to many throughout the US. To say there is a growing number of folks not happy with the direction would be an understatement. All the recent activity here on MTBR, posing on blogs and the BetterRide (that seemed to be a starter with them noting they were pulling their corporate sponsorship). There have been IMBA detractors and naysayers almost from the very beginning. I would have to say however that this resurgence of backlash is from a new bred, former IMBA supporters, former IMBA state reps, former IMBA employees etc. Folks from within the "inner circle" becoming less thrilled about the current direction seems to be a bit normal. Mark E. knows this (and I know Mark pretty well), he knows some of whom I speak about. Yes he has pointed out no chapter has left as of yet, but trust me there are a number who have contemplated it. At the SORBA Board meeting down in JAX FL back in Nov when the discussion of SORBA giving up it's own 501c3 and just operating under IMBA's one chapter president noted " we need to retain our own non-profit status just in case IMBA does something really crazy and we need to pull out". His comment did not get booed and in fact many in the room agreed.

    OK, enough of that for now. Let me start thinking of my suggestions for improvement.
    Last edited by Woodman; 01-13-2014 at 03:53 PM.

  43. #43
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    A short list for now to start to scratch the surface:

    -More transparency. I searched online during the IMBA Summit in Sante Fe for the current bylaws. Not to be found on the intwerwebs anywhere. Strange I thought. I went to Mark E. and asked, he is the Communications Director and thus he should have them right? Nope. He sent me to IMBA legal Council guy Jeremy F. who got me a copy of the current bylaws but noted they were under rewrite (and looking at them they really need such). That was back in Oct. 2012. At the Nov. 2013 SORBA (SORBA chapters were the first to join under the new chapter program) Board meeting the subject came up. One president of a chapter asked "we don't even know what IMBA bylaws say, why would we give up our own 5013c". The answer from the regional director and the board member present at that meeting was "They are under re-development, we will inform you when they are final". That garnered the response "we give 60% of our money as a chpater to IMBA, and we don't get a chance to comment and influence the new bylaws?". Who is re-writing these new bylaws, is it IMBA staff or the IMBA Board. Have any of you ever seen a strategic plan (5-10 year vision) from IMBA leadership? This new chapter program brings with a whole host of new responsibilities for IMBA central and one major area is transparency.

    -The IMBA Board is not elected by the membership or IMBA Chapters. it is instead a self selecting board. IMBA keeps 60% of a chapters money, but the chapter and its members do not get to influence who is steering the big ship? Does that seem right????

    -At the past 2 IMBA Summits there was a special invite only IMBA Congress meeting. The idea was a good one, give chapter leadership and top advocates a chance to voice what programs where important to them in their areas. Did IMBA do anything tangible with the feedback collected during these sessions? After all, folks sacrificed going for a bike ride to attend this special meeting. The folks I know in chapter leadership positions (Prez, BOD) have told me they don't feel anything was done with that feedback and many feel it was a waste of their time (maybe next time they will choose the ride option for that day instead). If IMBA is going to ask folks for feedback at these congress affairs, folks need to see how their time invested made a difference.

    -Many are not happy with the database system. This seems to be a big reason why many clubs make the jump to chapter status, better membership management with better tools. I have heard nothing but complaints about how the database system is really hard to use and not an effective tool for clubs. This has to change and IMBA has to be able to deliver on promises made.

  44. #44
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    Of the 4 clubs I belong, one recently became an IMBA chapter, and many of the concerns voiced above seem relevant.
    To speak ill of one that supports the greater good, causes most eyes to stare at you. So I'll attempt to be honest without leaving a bag of flaming pooh on the front porch. Because of this ^ fear, I hear nothing but crickets. Know this - feedback isn't always glowing, that my $0.02 will be direct, as I'm not one to piss on your leg, then convince you that it's only raining. And, if I'm missing something here, please correct me.

    1) Lack of local support, and disconnect with local land managers are valid concerns. How is a Boulder-based company supposed to interface as well to gain the full trust of a local, or in-state agency? Many larger clubs have proven track records of success.

    2) Loss of revenue, migration, co-mingling & contamination of both funds, and membership databases can cause current membership status nightmares. Certain this will soon be sorted, yet this initial hiccup promotes mistrust, and create doubts of competency. (Most follow the $$, and when such a large % -will always be critically viewed.)

    3) Not mentioned is one persistent example of resistance, New England, where IMBA is referred to as NEMBA, that use local chapters. (See #1)

    4) Stacked loop systems built without easy extraction access, and with most difficult features farthest from the trailhead are a local search & rescue's worst nightmare. For a recent IMBA-designed trail system, I cannot wrap my mind around such an egregious, and blatant faux pas.

    5) IMBA trail solutions, may have many good suggestions, but they are not the end-all to trail construction.* (ego check)
    Let's reflect on the AMC's history, and desire to control all hiking trails, and the resentment that their know-it-all / iron-fisted authority has on local hiking clubs. For those that do trail work when told exactly how they must build it, and that it's either their way or the highway- few get involved. (other than an aging demographic, another cause of their shrinking membership.)
    (* Feel this is a core issue that many riders, non-members, and outsiders feel, but do not openly express.)

    If the doorbell rings, and there's a flaming bag on the porch, it wasn't I. My intent was only to highlight current IMBA resistance issues.

  45. #45
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    It strikes me IMBA could offer more in the way of local support on technical issue, whether they be legal or engineering, or safety concerns. Our local club needs a drainage study for a pump track. I bet that's civil engineering 101, and there must be dozens of clubs nationwide with similar needs.

    In this thread, we read about a club in San Diego being slandered by another 501c3 group. I'm thinking that's something a lawyer could bring to a speedy halt with a phone call or letter.

    Most folks working in bike clubs are doing it out of love and in their spare time. It's always great when someone in the club has a particular professional expertise needed, but that's usually just good luck. Yet whan you step back and look at the big picture, the same problems must pop up over and over. That's where a big picture org such as IMBA can really shine, helping the locals not have to re-invent the wheel.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    So, now that it has been established that no chapter has willingly/intentionally dropped their affiliations, what is the point of this thread?
    Nothing to see here, move along. IMBA is and always will be perfect, so this stupid thread should not exist. I do not question my leadership or whom I support or why. As long as they do something good, I will give them my full support, backing, and endorsement. In case you missed, it this is sarcasm.
    He/she who works the trails does so in their own image.

    Speed just slows me down...

  47. #47
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    It seems to me that IMBA corporate should be fighting for San Diego. How many MTB's are in that 3.3million?

    This is where Mark E and IMBA- corporate should be earning their keep, (not that you don't Mark E). The local chapter should be showing up to give their opinions. But when they are outgunned, and have no shot at competing with their opponents, I feel that it is exactly where IMBA-corporate needs to step into the mix. PR, attorneys, a regional rep in the house leading the charge....



    But their are a couple of issues. One is the local chapter needs to ask for help, in writing to the regional rep and the folks in Boulder. If the chapter doesn't ask for help and support directly, should they expect it? Two is, should IMBA decide to support the good fight, they should keep the local club's BOD abreast and go after the goal together.
    He/she who works the trails does so in their own image.

    Speed just slows me down...

  48. #48
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    No flaming poop here, but you bring up good questions, so here are my thoughts on them:

    Quote Originally Posted by Flyin_W View Post
    1) Lack of local support, and disconnect with local land managers are valid concerns. How is a Boulder-based company supposed to interface as well to gain the full trust of a local, or in-state agency? Many larger clubs have proven track records of success.
    The chapter program IS the way to bridge the gap between the national and the local. I think this question is based on the assumption that becoming a Chapter is somehow replacing something local with something national. It not, it is simply strengthening the national connection.

    2) Loss of revenue, migration, co-mingling & contamination of both funds, and membership databases can cause current membership status nightmares. Certain this will soon be sorted, yet this initial hiccup promotes mistrust, and create doubts of competency. (Most follow the $$, and when such a large % -will always be critically viewed.)
    This will vary by club. There were a few glitches with the transfer for us, but nothing too bad. I don't think members noticed anything. For the most part, using IMBA's membership system has been a pretty big time saver for us. There issues, though we have gotten frustrated with some aspects of IMBA's on-line membership tools, it is very hard to find your own current membership status. We recently had an event where it was strictly members-only, and people had a hard time knowing if their membership was current. IMBA says will be making changes to this soon.

    As far as the revenue split, that calculations going to vary by club (the % is the same, but the bottom line will work out differently). For us, it was a net gain from the start, even on the membership dues, but the sponsorship revenue (that we keep 100% of) is also much larger than it was before. All in all, about ~10% of our total revenue (memberships, sponsors, grants) went to IMBA last year. Now, if your club were to gain no/few members from the integration, and if this did not increase your sponsorship numbers, the math might work out quite differently, and it could be a net loss. Every case is different.

    What specifically are you referring to by "co-mingling of funds"?
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  49. #49
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    2bfluid: SDMBA is an IMBA chapter and does, in fact, have access to exactly the resources you describe -- IMBA can and will provide action alerts and PR help, consultations with our in-house legal council, trail analysis and recommended changes by Trail Solutions, etc as requested. However, as you point out the local group decides when and if they want to utilize these resources. In this case, my understanding is that some local riders are very upset about trail closures due to the land manager's concerns about plant and animal habitat. But other local riders, including people who have engaged in productive partnerships with the land manager, agree with some or all of the closures and are willing to work for long-term solutions. As SDMBA formulates its planned response, IMBA will stand by, ready to help.

    Woodman: I'll republish IMBA's bylaws on the website today. The hope is to replace them with an updated version soon -- part of the is related to reincorporating in Colorado, rather than California, which is an antiquated element of the bylaws (IMBA's eadquarters have been in Boulder for quite some time.) We get very few requests for the bylaws, but there's no reason not to post them on the site so they will go back up later today on imba.com/about. Regarding the chapter congress, we agree that gathering needs to become more action-oriented and effective. But the Santa Fe chapter congress was just a start for this young program, and we are already planning for a much more dynamic gathering of chapter leaders and chapter members in Steamboat during the 2014 world summit, with an entire day set aside just for chapters. (Everyone else gets to go riding all day.)

  50. #50
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    I think it is great for people to express what they would like from IMBA.

    Many suggestions come down to "IMBA should provide more _______ (resources, attorneys, representatives, etc)". This is very valuable to know, but keep in mind that all these thinks require more staff time and therefore money.

    I think what would be equally valuable would be to know where you think LESS money and time should be spent in order to free up resources do these things.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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