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Thread: IMBA and change

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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 bētch 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...
    Should you do more trail work?

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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.
    Should you do more trail work?

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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 bētch 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.
    Should you do more trail work?

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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.
    Should you do more trail work?

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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?
    Should you do more trail work?

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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.
    Should you do more trail work?

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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.
    Should you do more trail work?

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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.
    Should you do more trail work?

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
    Should you do more trail work?

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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.
    Should you do more trail work?

  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.

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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.)

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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.

  51. #51
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    To the best of my knowledge SDMBA sent to IMBA a copy of the libelous letter that was sent to ALL of our sponsors. Had I been able to convince my fellow Board Members last January to not become an IMBA Chapter at the time, I honestly believe SDMBA would have a local attorney preparing and/or delivering a response to CNPS. Seeing how this is not the case, I have to give IMBA the benefit of the doubt they are seriously working on this very serious issue.
    The suspension of your bike sucks if it's different than mine. Really. It sucks. Big time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    ...What specifically are you referring to by "co-mingling of funds"?
    Important that any gifted funds remain separate, and earmarked, and not rolled into the general fund.
    Know that Estate/Trust attorneys take this very seriously, especially for funds given in perpetuity.
    If not, fiduciary responsibility will be breached, and all persons may be held accountable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boulder Pilot View Post
    To the best of my knowledge SDMBA sent to IMBA a copy of the libelous letter that was sent to ALL of our sponsors. Had I been able to convince my fellow Board Members last January to not become an IMBA Chapter at the time, I honestly believe SDMBA would have a local attorney preparing and/or delivering a response to CNPS. Seeing how this is not the case, I have to give IMBA the benefit of the doubt they are seriously working on this very serious issue.
    I sure hope you folks follow up on that. A letter ought to go both to CNPS, and there should be outreach to your sponsors as well.

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    Bylaws posted here: http://www.imba.com/about/bylaws

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flyin_W View Post
    Important that any gifted funds remain separate, and earmarked, and not rolled into the general fund.
    Know that Estate/Trust attorneys take this very seriously, especially for funds given in perpetuity.
    If not, fiduciary responsibility will be breached, and all persons may be held accountable.
    All sponsorships and fundraising efforts on the part of the local club stay in the club.

    As far as gifted funds earmarked, I do not see how being an IMBA chapter would make a difference.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

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    Our local group has considered affiliating with IMBA but opted not to, mainly because IMBA would draw away too much of our money. There are also some who believe IMBAs trail building techniques are too heavy handed and the finished product over engineered and "sanitized", although I personally don't agree.
    I am not repeating myself I am not repeating myself!

  57. #57
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    I went to college in a great mountain bike town (Oneonta, NY) where the college mountain biking club led building and advocacy efforts in the community. We (the SUNY Oneonta MTB Club) have funding from the student government and use that (and some fund raising) to conduct our business, which includes:

    -buying and maintaining a few entry-level bikes for new members to give mountain biking a try
    -purchasing trail tools and materials
    -taking several trips each year

    We used to also be an IMBA club. When the club was founded in the early 2000's it seemed prudent to have affiliation with an international organization. As we became more active, involved, and successful within our community we realized the following:

    1. Very few people in our community know what IMBA is. The mountain biking people are content with just the local scene and the rest just don't care.
    2. It wasn't enough to tell people we were affiliated with IMBA. We had to educate them on what IMBA is and why an affiliation with them makes us better, more responsible people.
    3. When asking for resources (read:money) local organizations would respond with "Well can't you get money from....what was it? IMPA?" or something similar.
    4. For some, the first time they heard of IMBA was when we got a $500 grant to buy trail building tools from them. This, in part, prompted #3.
    5. After having been educated by us what IMBA is, local land managers and owners wonder why IMBA doesn't send someone to talk to them, if IMBA really is on our side.
    6. When we built our first trail in Oneonta with what we thought were IMBA guidelines, we received hugely positive feedback from bikers and non-bikers alike. It also had many problems that you can't learn from reading the IMBA book. In hindsight, the fault was ours as newbie trail builders.

    Upon reflection of these points the college MTB club decided not to renew our IMBA membership the following year. It just didn't seem to make sense to put money into an organization that showed very little interest in us when we could instead use that money to get more locals and college students excited about mountain biking. Selling ourselves as an IMBA-affiliated club didn't seem to help boost involvement, but taking an extra day trip to some cool trail system or getting more trail tools so more people could help on trail days.....that seems to work. So I would like to see the following:

    1. Stronger IMBA presence in the Northeast. A regional office just doesn't cut it. I mean a tour to mountain biking towns with communities that are not officially affiliated with IMBA. Even showing up for a weekend group ride would go a long way in giving IMBA a human face instead of a corporate one in the eyes of local riders, government, and clubs.
    2. More advocacy on IMBA's part with local governments. In small towns, a letter or phone call to a local official is enough to leave a good taste in the proverbial mouth.
    3. A cleaner-looking IMBA website. I mean....it's just so loud! Additionally, take a moment to open up the IMBA website and tell me the first thing you see. I see "SUPPORT IMBA" first. Before I support you, why don't you make my life easier and tell me what you do? Then if I think it's a cool and worthy cause, maybe I'll find a way to help.
    4. Finally, take a look at the Trail Care Crew Team job posting. Let me get this straight: in order to be a good face for a company you have to work with your spouse? Also, if I was hiring someone to lead two-day trail design and construction clinics, I would want them to have more than just basic trail building skills.

    There. That's it. That's my two coppers.
    Go ride your bike.

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    Thanks for your input. Is there a difference between a club and a chapter?
    Should you do more trail work?

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    I doubt you will get much "real story" here. It is not a good space for it; more like Whack-a-Mole. Someone reveals the slightest bit of insight and are set upon immediately with explainers and apologists. Not that such responses are invalid, simply smothering. It shuts expression down.

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    2bfluid: Here's an explanation of the differences between clubs and chapters.

    Chapter and Regional Development | International Mountain Bicycling Association

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    Quote Originally Posted by HarryCallahan View Post
    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?
    It has been my experience that IMBA kicks the clubs out. Like in Sedona a world class riding area that tries to cater to hikers and equestrians

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    Sustainable trails need not be dumbed down, IMBA trails are usually beginner type trails. I will never support IMBA again because they threw the SMBC under the bus. Those guys are Sedona. I can't believe how IMBA caved to the forest service.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    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





    I also know of a couple of chapters that are considering dropping their status, but I doubt they will.
    This is because IMBA provides cheap insurance. They are able to do this because they are large.

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    Re: IMBA and change

    Quote Originally Posted by dorse View Post
    It has been my experience that IMBA kicks the clubs out. Like in Sedona a world class riding area that tries to cater to hikers and equestrians
    Any examples besides Sedona?
    Should you do more trail work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    Any examples besides Sedona?


    Sedona stands on its own, don't try to derail the mans point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ View Post
    Sedona stands on its own, don't try to derail the mans point.


    not sure what you mean....that the Sedona trails stand on their own, or the club?...or both???

    also, it wasn't a derail...it was clarification (plural vs. singular) as Mark E had responded that only 1 club was dropped....
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    Anytime that Sedona is brought up the IMBA sycophants avoid the issue with the question of "what other clubs have been thrown out", avoiding any reasonable discussion on the matter. There will be no change in the IMBA if this is the tact they continue to use in a thread titled "IMBA and change". This thread is the equivalent of "Hope and Change", long on promises and ruefully short on execution. Go ahead and continue to shout down any dissent or just keep using the diversionary tactics, IMBA will ultimately suffer from its unwillingness to have any serious discourse on the matter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ View Post
    Anytime that Sedona is brought up the IMBA sycophants avoid the issue with the question of "what other clubs have been thrown out", avoiding any reasonable discussion on the matter. There will be no change in the IMBA if this is the tact they continue to use in a thread titled "IMBA and change". This thread is the equivalent of "Hope and Change", long on promises and ruefully short on execution. Go ahead and continue to shout down any dissent or just keep using the diversionary tactics, IMBA will ultimately suffer from its unwillingness to have any serious discourse on the matter.
    rant much.

    No one is shutting down any critique or discussion, which most of has been very good...I am learning quite a bit. The direct experiences, both good and bad, have conveyed a myriad of constructive points (IMO)

    However, if claims are presented that are not true it's perfectly OK to clarify those...and it is not a thread derail.
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    You are now, I think, in meta-criticism ("nobody will listen to me") territory with BerkeleyMike. That's fine, but if you want to bring Sedona in as an example, you'll need to explain what happened and what you would have preferred to see IMBA do, not just tell us that we're avoiding reasonable discussion.

    As I understand it:
    -SMBC was sort of not playing by the rules with trail building (pirate trail building) over the course of many years and the FS finally got really mad. They had gotten away with a lot in the past but FS put their foot down as Sedona became a destination and the user load increased dramatically.
    -SMBC wanted to (or did?) circulate a petition that was essentially an unfairness claim (ie, hikers can keep using the trails we built, why can't mountain bikers).
    -IMBA felt this tactic was counterproductive and after some amount of recriminations back and forth, threw out the club and cut their own deal with the FS, which AFAIK has resulted in some but not all of the trails in question being recognized and officially opened to bikes/everyone as part of the official system.

    I'm sure there are loads of details missing and many personality conflicts involved. Other than that, is that about right? In my experience the "unfair!" tactic pretty much never works so I sort of see the IMBA side there, and it's also important to recognize that once a trail system/area is popular - the pirate days are over. Period. Land managers didn't care much in the past when many of us started riding (the majority of the riding I did back in the 90s was pirate trails, and I too built some) because there just weren't that many users in many places and as long as you weren't logging or mining or testing poison gas, the BLM/FS/etc would mostly turn a blind eye. That's no longer the case most places, and certainly no longer the case in Sedona.

    I also see the other side, where people feel that IMBA needs to stand up and be less accommodating when they feel mountain bikers are getting the shaft. I've been in the rooms where politicians and land managers make these kinds of decisions, though, and there is a fine line between standing up for yourself and shooting yourself in the foot. Land managers and policymakers don't see this as a civil rights issue or a fairness issue in many cases - they just want fewer headaches with various recreation groups and being the loudest and most disagreeable doesn't usually work. Bikes are (fairly) held to a higher standard as we are the new guys on the block and we move the fastest/cause the most disruption for other users than any other nonmotorized group.

    The ultimate comeback to any "it's not fair I can't recreate on this land!" claim is always the same - you can hike on it just like anyone else. Just don't bring your bike. This is usually the end of the story when it is the response from a land manager - it means the door is SHUT, probably for good. I have been in 3 separate access negotiations that ended this way, and it sucks. So saying "unfair!" is really, really risky in my experience. The "we can make this work and we'll give some stuff up, here's what we can bring to the table" approach IMO leads to better outcomes.

    Can IMBA do better holding the line in situations like Sedona? I think the question really is what will lead to better access and riding opportunities - there is a balance between being a pushover and being agreeable enough to get along and get what you want, but no more. Since I do not know all the details in Sedona I can't say if the results would have been better had SMBC led the negotiations but my instinct is that they would not have done as well given that they had established a reputation for basically doing whatever the hell they wanted and continuing to build pirate trails - that's generally not a group that is going to get a seat at the table for a serious negotiation.

    There's plenty of room to disagree about all of that obviously.

    -Walt

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    Well said Walt, your ability to think rationally is something that a few here could stand to study. As far as the individuals complaining about IMBA, if you do not like what IMBA has done move on with your life, or refocus your discontent, and use your energy more wisely. Complaining about the same old thing over and over again will not change the previous outcome. A war can not be won in one battle it takes many, some will be lost and some will be a success. Simply put we can blame Horsemen Associations, hikers, naturalist, and any number of other poeple or groups that do not want bikes in "their" parks. I see no advantage in blaming organizations like IMBA for a single lost battle, I do see a reason to go back and study what went wrong and try and correct it in the future. I have learned the hard way in life that actions like blame, hate, bigotry will only blind us from the truth and ultimatey succeeding in our goals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ View Post
    Anytime that Sedona is brought up the IMBA sycophants avoid the issue with the question of "what other clubs have been thrown out", avoiding any reasonable discussion on the matter. There will be no change in the IMBA if this is the tact they continue to use in a thread titled "IMBA and change". This thread is the equivalent of "Hope and Change", long on promises and ruefully short on execution. Go ahead and continue to shout down any dissent or just keep using the diversionary tactics, IMBA will ultimately suffer from its unwillingness to have any serious discourse on the matter.
    Hope and change? Save it for Rush.

    This thread was meant to be a discussion on what folks want and don't want from IMBA.

    As I said toward the beginning of this thread, this not another let's rehash Sedona again,and again,and again. At this point I have learned a bit about the Sedona "debacle" from way, way outside of that situation and don't really feel it should be swept under the rug. BUT this is not the thread to argue what has already been beat to death. There are lessons from Sedona but I am still sorting out truth versus perspective versus opinion. So far the only folks that didn't lose in Sedona are the "other" user groups. We got bloody in Sedona, and all lost because of it. I wish you guys the best and will be happy to help you guys out should I ever roll through there. Hopefully, I can still roll through there and not have to hike.

    So to be clear AZ, no offense, but take it to another thread. Or better yet start a new one (Chum?), and keep the rage out of it, keep it to the facts, and see if anyone listens this time. You can take Walt's post #29 with you. Although, it seems like he has been paying attention.


    We are actually trying to have a real and genuine discussion about where we want IMBA to be in 5,10,25 years down the road. I am just glad that IMBA has survived the growing pains of the last few years. But I am just trying to keep this thread clear and trying dispel any bullshi* from anyone.

    And no one is making any promises either, just trying to change some perceptions based on facts, more so than opinions or hearsay, trying keep it civil, and not turn into a bit*h or love fest.

    Lets keep it constructive.


    A few issues do keep coming up though, and its up to IMBA and the powers that be to filter out the nonsense from the gold. It seems Mark E is paying attention. Maybe he can distill this thread for us (and the BOD) after a while, and see if it will bear fruit. Otherwise its up to the local chapter brass to send it up the flag pole. If you pay dues then you chapter BOD should be listening and reporting at the conferences.



    One thing is for sure, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If your chapter needs help they need to ask for it. They probably will help, but the local chapter will have to carry the load and fight the good fight. Maybe IMBA needs to do more coaching of its new chapters?

    I know that around hear we bust our ass and are short on volunteers. But we have made some serious inroads with local land managers and they are coming around. Consistency is a big part of it. Showing up with cash can also help. The old guards are also moving on to greener pastures. So have hope and keep wearing them down, all it takes some times is a new guy throwing his hat in the ring.


    What would happen in Sedona if the new head ranger was a bad ass mountain biker? What if a few seats way up the USFS ladder changed hands? What if?
    Should you do more trail work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bfluid View Post
    Hope and change? Save it for Rush.

    This thread was meant to be a discussion on what folks want and don't want from IMBA.

    As I said toward the beginning of this thread, this not another let's rehash Sedona again,and again,and again. At this point I have learned a bit about the Sedona "debacle" from way, way outside of that situation and don't really feel it should be swept under the rug. BUT this is not the thread to argue what has already been beat to death. There are lessons from Sedona but I am still sorting out truth versus perspective versus opinion. So far the only folks that didn't lose in Sedona are the "other" user groups. We got bloody in Sedona, and all lost because of it. I wish you guys the best and will be happy to help you guys out should I ever roll through there. Hopefully, I can still roll through there and not have to hike.
    Thanks for the constructive thread 2bfluid.

    Yes. There is little to be gained by re-hashing. That said there is much to be learned from the Sedona situation that speaks directly to your thread's topic "IMBA and Change". In the interest of being constructive here are a few points. These will be obvious to those who took the time to read the thread Sedona Kicked Out of I.M.B.A!!!.

    IMBA has not been honest here on mtbr.com in their descriptions of what actually transpired in Sedona. Their communications director Mark E. has not once quoted the actual "violations" for termination of the Chapter Charter as stated in the termination letter sent to the SMBC's board... this despite several requests that I have made here on mtbr.com. Why is this? Why won't IMBA come clean about this?

    So, an obvious first step for IMBA regarding Change is HONESTY and TRANSPARENCEY. There can be no trust without these. Trust being the foundation of productive relationships.

    IMBA did an end-run around the SMBC board (local IMBA Chapter) right from the get go; seeking to lay the ground work for holding their 2014 International Summit here in Sedona (word is they are continuing to seek to hold a Summit here in the future). Historically IMBA has played a minuscule role in Sedona's mountain bike popularity and success. Therefore it is self-serving of IMBA to attempt to hitch their red-rock wagon to Sedona's popularity and success. More to the point it is unethical and unscrupulous to do so while undermining the folks that had EVERYTHING to do with creating Sedona's popularity and success... no matter the justification (illegal trail builders, loud mouths, fill in the blank). Taking the time to set-up an IMBA Chapter in your town should not be the advocacy equivalent of inviting a vampire into your house; where IMBA inserts themselves and takes over by establishing relationships with all the local power brokers for their own benefit without being held to account by the local advocates who invited them.

    So the second thing IMBA needs to do regarding "Change" is be held accountable to the local Chapter's goals. Not the other way round. Those goals NEED to be established in writing as part of the Chapter formation process.

    Lastly, IMBA should not be using it's status and PR clout to drown out the real story. The propaganda that has been spewed in every mountain bike publication imaginable is incredibly inaccurate and misleading... The people that created a good thing (the awesome trails in Sedona) are being thrown under the bus while they're work product is being celebrated... by IMBA and the USFS. IMBA's termination of a Chapter without engaging the membership should be a sign to everyone that there is a problem.

    Regarding Change, in situations where IMBA has a disagreement with a Chapter or local mountain bike community, etc. a conflict resolution process should be facilitated and worked-through. This process should be outlined in the Chapter agreement. It should be facilitated by a non-IMBA or Government affiliated third party. If the conflict resolution results in Chapter termination IMBA should NOT be allowed to operate outside of the pervue of the now non-Chapter, local mountain bike community etc. And they should not be allowed to manipulate/manufacture the facts surrounding the issue as a story in the press.

    I hope that folks on mtbr.com and IMBA can put aside differences and find value in these comments.

    CB

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    Re: IMBA and change

    Hmmmmm, not the usual rant aside from the vampire statement. Some valid points.

    It sounds like there were some hurt feelings from the get go about the possible summit. But not such a big deal in the big scheme of things. Think its still on? I doubt it.

    So has IMBA taken over continued negotiations with the local USFS or did the process stop? I would also like to know the FS's role in all this.



    Transparency and honesty are a good things. Still not seeing the dishonesty. But it seems like this could have been handled better.



    There I go getting sucked in. Maybe Mark E will chime in if you can keep it civil.
    Should you do more trail work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CANADIANBACON View Post
    ...

    So the second thing IMBA needs to do regarding "Change" is be held accountable to the local Chapter's goals. Not the other way round. Those goals NEED to be established in writing as part of the Chapter formation process.

    .....

    Regarding Change, in situations where IMBA has a disagreement with a Chapter or local mountain bike community, etc. a conflict resolution process should be facilitated and worked-through. This process should be outlined in the Chapter agreement. It should be facilitated by a non-IMBA or Government affiliated third party. If the conflict resolution results in Chapter termination IMBA should NOT be allowed to operate outside of the pervue of the now non-Chapter, local mountain bike community etc. And they should not be allowed to manipulate/manufacture the facts surrounding the issue as a story in the press.

    I hope that folks on mtbr.com and IMBA can put aside differences and find value in these comments.

    CB
    OK...let's see if I can boil this down to a few bullet points.

    1. Goals should be outlined/agreed upon during the initial Chapter agreement.
    2. Conflict resolution should be part of the Chapter "contract".
    3. Any conflict must have a 3rd part mediator to address issues and seek resolution.
    4. Failing resolution, and consequently Chapter status with IMBA is dissolved, then there is a "no compete" clause (meaning IMBA stays out of that advocacy groups arena)...

    is that kinda close?

    In any case not sure how viable that is if there are other advocacy groups in an area that overlap local trails/LM's that have a relationship with IMBA...

    Or if "termination" of Chapter would require a mediator....because that could go both ways if IMBA did something a club may find egregious and would want to cut ties immediately...

    Also, attempting to stop the who, what, why and where's might be unenforceable...you, as an advocate, can relay your first hand knowledge of events as well as any other...including IMBA

    kinda hard to censor that IMO.

    interesting though....
    Last edited by CHUM; 01-23-2014 at 12:07 PM. Reason: grammar...blah (still poor I know)
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    Point for Chum
    Should you do more trail work?

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    I think that is a pretty good idea in general, though obviously working out the precise mechanisms (who picks the 3rd party mediator? who pays them?) would take some more effort/thought.

    It really does sound like SMBC and IMBA were working at cross purposes and that is never a good thing - some ground rules when becoming an IMBA chapter would have helped, and having IMBA agree to step aside if the local group disagrees with their approach is also a good thing (though in this particular case I think you'd have ended up with a lot less trail open to bikes in Sedona if SMBC had run the negotiations, and the existence of *another* local bike advocacy club aligned with IMBA also complicates matters).

    -Walt

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    We aren't having a discussion about "IMBA and change," as the thread is titled. Instead, it's turned, once again, "Rehashing the Sedona situation." I guess we can return to that topic if needed, but I have to start by saying that what transpired there is not at all representative of the experiences that the vast majority of IMBA chapters are having.

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    Agreed, Mark. I was hoping for this to go someplace else.

    But Chum's summation of CB's post is on track.
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    Mark, what is the existing mechanism (if there is one) for resolving disputes between IMBA and a local club/chapter? What agreements are made between the chapter and IMBA when a club applies for chapter status?

    If nothing else, the Sedona situation demonstrates the need for some sort of formal agreement on the respective roles of the club/chapter and IMBA itself. Maybe that already exists?

    -Walt

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    The main mechanism for resolving disputes is for the chapter to discuss the issues with their region director and look for solutions together. Chapters are also welcome to consult with IMBA's executive director, or other staff members to resolve conflicts.

    Prior to being accepted as a chapter, IMBA reviews the group's mission statement, bylaws and other documentation to ensure that everything is in alignment with IMBA's mission and core values. Entering the chapter program entails a significant amount of documentation stating that the local group and IMBA are entering a formal partnership and agree to support each others' values and practices.

    In the one instance of Sedona, none of this prevented an unraveling of the local group from the chapter program. For 148 other chapters, with more on tap for the next chapter class, these measures have been successful.

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    Re: IMBA and change

    I am glad you are still with us Mark. I know you don't want to go down that road. But this issue doesn't seem to want to go away.

    Maybe full disclosure isn't such a bad thing. I know our club made a mistake or two with the FS, and we about lost our chapter because of it. It had nothing to do with IMBA corporate. The problem wasn't what we actually did wrong on a random trail workday, the problem was how our chapter handled the situation. The club president got a lawyer instead of throwing his hands up in the air and saying "My bad, we won't do that again."

    We lost a lot of trust in the community because no one knew what actually happened and the real story. Because of this, speculation and negative opinions where rampant. If we had just put out a simple factual statement of what actually took place we would have gained credibility instead of the opposite.

    The secrecy is what killed us, and it took us years to recover.
    Last edited by 2bfluid; 01-24-2014 at 06:27 AM.
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    "Prior to being accepted as a chapter, IMBA reviews the group's mission statement, bylaws and other documentation to ensure that everything is in alignment with IMBA's mission and core values."

    Mark, I would hope this is a 2 way street, and you invite the prospective chapter to review IMBA's by-laws, and other documentation before they sign on the dotted line. You posted up IMBA's by-laws (which I will have some comments on later), but not IMBA's mission and core values. Care to share the core values and strategic plan with us as part of this good discussion? Several have commented on great transparency and that seems a fair ask giving the nature of the chapter program.

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    I think the mission/core values is pretty well spelled out here: About IMBA U.S. | International Mountain Bicycling Association

    I mean, it's one click from the front page. So not too hard to find.

    -Walt

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    Walt,

    That info (which is indeed easy to find on the website, but the bylaws were not there until just recently) is good, but again sharing the strategic plan is not asking too much (which is a much meatier document).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodman View Post
    Walt,

    That info (which is indeed easy to find on the website, but the bylaws were not there until just recently) is good, but again sharing the strategic plan is not asking too much (which is a much meatier document).
    Does the Strategic Plan include the tiered objectives and overall strategy of IMBA and how they relate with specific LM's and policy makers?

    If so, sharing the entire plan would not be a very good idea.

    Sharing the facets of that plan on how it relates to the area/locale the chapter is from is not a bad idea though....

    my .02
    Last edited by CHUM; 01-24-2014 at 09:51 AM. Reason: spelling
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    I don't think most nonprofits make all the gory details of their strategic plan(s) available to the general public but maybe I'm wrong. There is always a sausage-making aspect of making deals in public policy so you don't always want or need to go into every detail of how your leaders interact with politicians or land managers.

    Can you give us some examples of other orgs that you feel are doing it right and how they provide those documents/plans/strategies to their members or the general public?

    -Walt

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    Local vs State vs Federal

    One important aspect to understand is local vs. State. v. Federal.

    While we view the trails close to where we live as local, those properties may be part of a local, State, or Federal systems. As mtb advocates, we have tended to align is a similar manner. We have local, state/regional, and national groups.

    In general, Local Parks want to deal with local riders. State Agencies want to deal with a State wide or Regional Group, and Federal Agencies want to deal with National groups.

    The important point is that the land managers get to determine who they work with. If there are multiple mtb advocacy groups who want to be involved at a given property, it is the land manager who gets to choose who to work with. So if a land manager isnít happy with the local group, they may choose to work with a State wide, or National Group.

    I think IMBA has about 60 paid staff (Mark E can correct me if I am off base on this). For comparison Serra Club has over 500. That is barely one per state. IMBA doesnít have the staff to get in the weeds for every local park. If you are a local group working with a local park, IMBA likely will only know about this property or provide assistance if your group asks them for help.

    If your local trails are on federal land, then it is very likely that IMBA will be involved. They hold the national MOUs with Federal land Agencies.

    Throughout the threads, I have heard some complain that IMBA isnít there in the trenches with them at their local trails, and others complain that IMBA is there involved in their local trails. The key to understanding IMBAís role is to understand whether your local trail is a local, State, or Federal property.

    State Lands fall somewhere in the middle, depending on the state. In my state, HMBA holds the MOU with the IDNR. So we are involved in building trails in any IDNR property (State Park and State Forests). We have local riders/groups in Indiana that are not part of IMBA and donít necessarily see eye to eye with HMBA. But they are working on local trails, so we donít butt into their business, unless they reach out and ask us for help. We also have local groups who are a part of HMBA or the IMBA region that we work with to build trails on State Land.

    And we have the challenging cases where local riders want to build trails on properties near them that are State owned Land. They donít understand why some group in Indianapolis has any say over what happens in the State Park close to them. This creates misalignment. State Parks wants to work with HMBA. The local riders donít want to work with HMBA. HMBA canít build trails without local support.

    But we also have great examples of local riders working with HMBA to build great trail systems in State Parks. In these parks, we have kept the State happy by building beginner and intermediate trails, and in doing so gained there support to build much more difficult trails.

    There is no law that forces local groups to be aligned with IMBA. Local groups have to decide if they are better off working with IMBA based on their goals and the types of properties they want to work with. IMBA has to operate in a way that is fair to all the IMBA groups across the country. It canít dump all its resources into one local battle. It also canít let one group do things that jeopardize other mtb groups around the country that want to work with National Forests of Parks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark E View Post
    The main mechanism for resolving disputes is for the chapter to discuss the issues with their region director and look for solutions together. Chapters are also welcome to consult with IMBA's executive director, or other staff members to resolve conflicts.

    Prior to being accepted as a chapter, IMBA reviews the group's mission statement, bylaws and other documentation to ensure that everything is in alignment with IMBA's mission and core values. Entering the chapter program entails a significant amount of documentation stating that the local group and IMBA are entering a formal partnership and agree to support each others' values and practices.

    In the one instance of Sedona, none of this prevented an unraveling of the local group from the chapter program. For 148 other chapters, with more on tap for the next chapter class, these measures have been successful.
    Might part of the issue with Sedona have been that the Region Director has too big a territory? He's in charge of NM, AZ, SOCAL, and Hawaii. I don't know how many chapters this entails but clearly that's being stretched pretty thin and possibly impacted that partnership. Seems like SOCAL is big enough alone to require a full-time IMBA person to work with the clubs and land managers.

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    The Southwest IMBA region does not include Hawaii (the Pacific Northwest director has that honor) but, yes, it's a big region. That's why the chapter program is so important -- chapterhood is what creates the resources to hire additional region-based staff. Each new class of chapters creates more economy of scale -- and IMBA has been putting that right back into local communities by continuing to hire region directors and associate region directors at a rapid pace. In the balance, the region/chapter program is spending much more money than it creates through the revenue share with chapters (about a 30 percent deficit). But that's okay because it's clearly the path forward to creating stronger, more effective local groups who can achieve great things for all mountain bikers.

    Here's a video outlining the basics of the chapter program:

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    IMBA's strategic plan, as far as I know, is not meant to be a public-facing document. But as a former board member you probably remember the basics -- it hasn't changed much in recent years. The highlights include:

    - Impose a universal trail standard and eliminate technical riding opportunities wherever possible.

    - Stifle dissenting voices and destroy opposing groups.

    - Ensure that the 29-inch wheel size replaces inferior alternatives.

    - I'm kidding, of course. I wonder how many MTBR forums readers just lost their minds.

    Happy Friday!

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    rockman, I can't account for the amount of work the the Southwest Regional Diector does but it does have fewer Chapters than say the Southeast Region (38). That said I see that the Colorado/Wyoming Region only contains (7), so it seems that could be spread out more evenly to help with any of those issues. Our Great Lakes Regional Director Andy Wiliiamson covers (23) Chapters and does a great job assisting our new tiny Chapter, and I have heard nothing but good things from the other Chapter's members.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redd4573 View Post
    rockman, I can't account for the amount of work the the Southwest Regional Diector does but it does have fewer Chapters than say the Southeast Region (38). That said I see that the Colorado/Wyoming Region only contains (7), so it seems that could be spread out more evenly to help with any of those issues. Our Great Lakes Regional Director Andy Wiliiamson covers (23) Chapters and does a great job assisting our new tiny Chapter, and I have heard nothing but good things from the other Chapter's members.
    Roger, the main point I was trying to make was that perhaps some of the rancor between IMBA and the Sedona chapter was because the rep was off representing another chapter and not involved directly in the local issues while the locals were trying to advocate for access and not accepting an imminent trail closure. The IMBA affiliate seemed all too happy to cut the deal and move on. There was the perception that there was some backdoor dealing with the land manager without the involvement of the chapter. That's my 2 cents anyway, but I haven't really heard all the issues clearly presented. And maybe the two club in one area dealio is not affective as well.

    I apologize for drifting the thread back to Sedona but it does serve as an example of how IMBA doesn't work and what changes could/should have been made. In this case, having two different clubs in the same area and both affiliated with IMBA was clearly a bad idea. IMBA simply dumped the new chapter and re-aligned itself with the affiliate which historically serves a greater area and was more roadie oriented. The locals and the ones who did most of the heavy lifting (illegal or legal) felt abandoned and were angry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rockman View Post
    Roger, the main point I was trying to make was that perhaps some of the rancor between IMBA and the Sedona chapter was because the rep was off representing another chapter and not involved directly in the local issues while the locals were trying to advocate for access and not accepting an imminent trail closure. The IMBA affiliate seemed all too happy to cut the deal and move on. There was the perception that there was some backdoor dealing with the land manager without the involvement of the chapter. That's my 2 cents anyway, but I haven't really heard all the issues clearly presented. And maybe the two club in one area dealio is not affective as well.

    I apologize for drifting the thread back to Sedona but it does serve as an example of how IMBA doesn't work and what changes could/should have been made. In this case, having two different clubs in the same area and both affiliated with IMBA was clearly a bad idea. IMBA simply dumped the new chapter and re-aligned itself with the affiliate which historically serves a greater area and was more roadie oriented. The locals and the ones who did most of the heavy lifting (illegal or legal) felt abandoned and were angry.

    <style type="text/css">P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }</style> Rockman, thanks for the points. They are very, very, accurate.

    One clarification though. Although there was a significant loss of respect for IMBA by the SMBC's board I don't know that I would characterize us as "angry" or that our "feelings were hurt". Certainly we were disappointed. On the other hand, the rancor that you speak of was definitely present among a large number of our members. They were quite upset.

    It is important to recognize that the VVCC have done some good work on the mountain side of things and I am proud of the four years I served on the board. What bares repeating for those following the discussion is that the VVCC was founded as a regional (Verde Valley) road cycling advocacy organization, and that it's membership was and is predominantly roadies. During my four years on the board mountain bike issues received an exponentially smaller amount of time and resources compared to road issues.

    When I originally contacted IMBA's Rocky Mtn. Regional director to discuss the challenges in Sedona he communicated that he had a working understanding of Sedona, and the VVCC. He also communicated that in IMBA's practical 'real world' experience "advocacy organizations that encompass both road and mountain do not succeed". It was on his advice that we even pursued an IMBA Chapter as an advocacy vehicle. I often wonder had our board continued to work with IMBA's Rocky Mtn. Regional director would we be having this same discussion?

    Your points have fleshed out one of the primary reasons that IMBA has received the criticism they have about Sedona... they turfed a Sedona specific, Mountain Bike Specific advocacy organization, who's members were almost all Sedona residents to align with a regional road centric org.

    CB
    Last edited by CANADIANBACON; 01-25-2014 at 11:46 PM.

  95. #95
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    There is nothing in the strategic plan specific to how IMBA deals with land managers, I am pretty sure of that. There should be stuff in there like the short and long terms goals of the organization and how to achieve those goals. And I agree that sharing that with Chapters and even the mtn bike community at large is a good idea. That is a step towards greater transparency, which many are asking for.

  96. #96
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    Funny stuff Mark, good thing I don't drink coffee as my screen would now be covered. It is indeed important for us to always keep some sense of humor.

    With all seriousness however:

    Yes, I served on the board during one revision of the strategic plan. That was back in 2005 at the summer Board meeting in Whistler and again fall in Boulder. I would like to think that there is something newer than that, a lot has happened/changed since that timeframe. As one example, IMBA Ride Centers are nothing like what first envisioned by the at the time board and announced at the Interbike breakfast and the fancy marketing brochure. They were envisioned to be trail systems that IMBA had a very direct hand in developing, and now there are some that fit that but many Ride centers IMBA had nothing to do with the development. Park City is a key example, this is an IMBA Gold Level Ride Center but IMBA did not built 2' of trail there. Many advocates there (and those responsible for the trail planning/design/development) see this as IMBA trying to take credit for a great mountain bike destination, and in reality most of the country already knew Park City kicked ass long before this new designation by IMBA. Though I understand what this new and re-purposed program is about, it is creating a lot of ill will in some places.

    Another example is the chapter program, which is growing fast and in many ways defining the work that IMBA does. Back in 2005, there was no Chapter Program though it was discussed as a possibility in 2005 and 2006, with some real movement in the years after. That was seen as an important growth model for IMBA as membership at that time was flat to declining. Without question, the chapter program has increased membership and also profile of IMBA on a more regional and local level. This program is however not perfect and needs much work to get it to where it needs to be. New bylaws need to reflect chapters as the current ones do not mention chapters at all.

    By laws do mention election (by membership) of board members as being the process to determine IMBA leadership in the BOD. I have spoken to over 20+ IMBA members in the past few weeks (including several chapter Presidents, President elects, VPs etc) and no one can remember voting on the current slate of BOD. That is troubling to many and a problem that needs to be addressed. It would be super easy to argue that IMBA as a whole is not a valid 501c3 if it could be proven that the organization is not indeed following it's own operational documentation.

    Current bylaws note that the board can adopt and change new bylaws, but not in the area of members voting on the board of directors. The new chapter program makes this even more important as IMBA mothership is keeping 60% of member dues and the local chapter only gets 40%. Chapters, if not individual members need a very direct process for influencing the board and this does not seem to be happening (or maybe there is some level of vote happening but not really defend-able if no members are aware of attempts for a vote).




    Quote Originally Posted by Mark E View Post
    IMBA's strategic plan, as far as I know, is not meant to be a public-facing document. But as a former board member you probably remember the basics -- it hasn't changed much in recent years. The highlights include:

    - Impose a universal trail standard and eliminate technical riding opportunities wherever possible.

    - Stifle dissenting voices and destroy opposing groups.

    - Ensure that the 29-inch wheel size replaces inferior alternatives.

    - I'm kidding, of course. I wonder how many MTBR forums readers just lost their minds.

    Happy Friday!
    Last edited by Woodman; 01-26-2014 at 12:42 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark E View Post
    The Southwest IMBA region does not include Hawaii (the Pacific Northwest director has that honor) but, yes, it's a big region. That's why the chapter program is so important -- chapterhood is what creates the resources to hire additional region-based staff. Each new class of chapters creates more economy of scale -- and IMBA has been putting that right back into local communities by continuing to hire region directors and associate region directors at a rapid pace. In the balance, the region/chapter program is spending much more money than it creates through the revenue share with chapters (about a 30 percent deficit). But that's okay because it's clearly the path forward to creating stronger, more effective local groups who can achieve great things for all mountain bikers.

    Here's a video outlining the basics of the chapter program:
    I have a question regarding these associate regional directors I see popping up? I was told that the club they represent pays their salary, is this the case?

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    In most cases, the chapter (not club) and IMBA are splitting the Associate Region Directors' salaries. Their duties are generally split between attending to the chapter and region-wide initiatives. This can be a big advantage for chapters who are ready to hire professional staff because IMBA can provide payroll support, taxes, benefits, etc.

  99. #99
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    What is the difference between the duties Reg. Assoc Director vs the Reg Director?

    How does one get on IMBA's BOD? Large contributions? Recommendations from BOD members? Receiving the Lifetime Mountain Bike Advocacy award?

    Do these positions have terms?
    Should you do more trail work?

  100. #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark E View Post
    In most cases, the chapter (not club) and IMBA are splitting the Associate Region Directors' salaries. Their duties are generally split between attending to the chapter and region-wide initiatives. This can be a big advantage for chapters who are ready to hire professional staff because IMBA can provide payroll support, taxes, benefits, etc.
    Mark,
    If the local chapter is splitting the salary of this Assoc. Regional Director, do they have any influence in the hiring/firing on folks on those positions? It would seem logical that they should get a say so if they are putting up have the $.

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