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  1. #1
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    IMBA's Regional Leadership Council Program

    http://www.imba.com/resources/rlc/index.html

    Any thoughts or opinions?

    I don't really understand the need for this type of program across the board. I do see the need for this in some areas.

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    They are replacing the IMBA rep program with this leadership council program.

    Basically the concept is:

    Give a man a trail and he rides it for a day and then will want you to do more for him...teach a man how to create sustainable mtbr clubs and trail systems and he rides and preserves trails for a lifetime without bothering you anymore.
    Michael Vitti
    CLIMB President
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    NY State Trails Council Member

  3. #3
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    Okay...

    Quote Originally Posted by sick4surf
    They are replacing the IMBA rep program with this leadership council program.

    Basically the concept is:

    Give a man a trail and he rides it for a day and then will want you to do more for him...teach a man how to create sustainable mtbr clubs and trail systems and he rides and preserves trails for a lifetime without bothering you anymore.

    So IMBA is going to teach SORBA, NEMBA, MMBA and all the other established mountain biking advocacy organizations how to create sustainable clubs and trails? That seems unlikely.

    It seems to me that introducing another layer of "regional" mountain biking representation in regions that already have an established organization that works with LM's will muddy the water and potentially result in a conflicit of interest between IMBA and regional organizations.

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    The person already doing the IMBA rep work in those areas will most likely help create new chapters for those larger organizations. The rest of the country is wide open for access issues and potential new IMBA clubs and affiliations.

    Maybe someone from IMBA can chime in?
    Last edited by sick4surf; 12-22-2008 at 11:39 AM.
    Michael Vitti
    CLIMB President
    www.CLIMBonline.org
    www.IMBA.com
    NY State Trails Council Member

  5. #5
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    Yeah but...

    Quote Originally Posted by sick4surf
    No, the person already doing the IMBA rep work in those areas will most likely help create new chapters for those larger organizations. The rest of the country is wide open for access issues and potential new IMBA clubs and affiliations.

    Maybe someone from IMBA can chime in?

    Someone from IMBA needs to chime in.

    After reading the FAQs and more about the program, it seems to me that this adds another layer of complexity in those areas with established organizations. Using CLIMB as an example and with the understanding that this is purely hypothetical:

    Currently
    CLIMB has strong relationships with Land Managers. Those Land Manager know and respect CLIMB based on the work done locally by CLIMB representatives. CLIMB from time to time asks IMBA for support in some capacity for their projects and because the NY IMBA State Rep is heavily involved with CLIMB.

    There are (hypothetical) times when the local LM's identify grant monies that are available that CLIMB can apply for and manage as those grant monies result in more trails that CLIMB helps bring to the public.

    New RLC
    There's now a regional branch of IMBA that would represent mountain bikers in the same region as CLIMB. CLIMB may or may not be represented on this regional IMBA branch based on whether or not a CLIMB member is selected by IMBA to join the regional IMBA RLC.

    One of the goals of the RLC's is to raise funds, manage grants and ultimately provide paid positions as part of the plan. This seems to put them in conflict with CLIMB, to me. And because IMBA has Trail Building division, do they expect to compete for regional trail building grants or paid trail building opportunities? It seems to me that the new RLC ensure that.

    So those organizations that have spent litterally decades establishing relationships with LM's are now not the go to voice for mountain biking advocacy in the region?

    Again, it would be nice if IMBA corporate would jump in here.

  6. #6
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    Yea, I see your points. I think Ryan Schutz at IMBA can answer your questions. I'm not sure if they have implemented the program yet.
    Last edited by sick4surf; 12-22-2008 at 11:40 AM.
    Michael Vitti
    CLIMB President
    www.CLIMBonline.org
    www.IMBA.com
    NY State Trails Council Member

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    So IMBA is going to teach SORBA, NEMBA, MMBA and all the other established mountain biking advocacy organizations how to create sustainable clubs and trails? That seems unlikely.

    It seems to me that introducing another layer of "regional" mountain biking representation in regions that already have an established organization that works with LM's will muddy the water and potentially result in a conflicit of interest between IMBA and regional organizations.
    No, but they can help groups like OMBA work to pull together. Or HMBA. They're working to be like MMBA, MORE, SORBA, but it will take time. This MIGHT help out.

    The regional rep system does work, but does have it's limitations too. Even in states like MI with a great organization - covering the entire state has difficulties. It can create hot spots or rather cold spots for advocacy because they don't have representation - this can work to shake that up.

    There can be conflicts between IMBA and local groups, but there can be conflicts even between local groups too. HMBA and NIMBA may have slightly different goals when it comes to which state park we should be trying to open.

    My guess is IMBA was realizing the limitations of the single regional rep system, and was looking for ways to improve on it. The efforts of the regional reps were uneven due to many factors - different states/government entites, how close (physically and otherwise) to the positions of power in the state, different support organizations they worked with, heck even different personalites make a difference.

    JmZ
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  8. #8
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    My experience....

    Quote Originally Posted by JmZ
    No, but they can help groups like OMBA work to pull together. Or HMBA. They're working to be like MMBA, MORE, SORBA, but it will take time. This MIGHT help out.

    The regional rep system does work, but does have it's limitations too. Even in states like MI with a great organization - covering the entire state has difficulties. It can create hot spots or rather cold spots for advocacy because they don't have representation - this can work to shake that up.

    There can be conflicts between IMBA and local groups, but there can be conflicts even between local groups too. HMBA and NIMBA may have slightly different goals when it comes to which state park we should be trying to open.

    My guess is IMBA was realizing the limitations of the single regional rep system, and was looking for ways to improve on it. The efforts of the regional reps were uneven due to many factors - different states/government entites, how close (physically and otherwise) to the positions of power in the state, different support organizations they worked with, heck even different personalites make a difference.

    JmZ
    The problem with turning cold spots within regions in to hot spots has less to do with organizational representation and leadership and more to do with locals willing to act as the organizations official representative, Trail Steward or Trail Manager and accept ownership of an opportunity.

    Without local support, regional oversight/management or direction will never result in a success in a "cold" spot.

    We can see this play out in nationally recognized successes. IMBA was a part of Mike's success in New York but IMBA would and could not have been successful without Mike and CLIMB's direction and leadership.

    In the KC area, we have more requests for new trails than we can take on right now. Not because we need more "leadership" but because we don't have enough middle management willing to take ownership of the request or opportunity. We will not take on any new trail projects unless a qualified Trail Steward is identified and has volunteered to be responsible for that specific trail.

    There are limitations with a state rep program and I'm not suggesting that it doesn't need to be revamped. I have concerns with this approach because it really defocuses succesful organizations from what they're doing, runs the risk of confusing our clients (Land Managers and mountain bikers) and seems to put IMBA and those local groups in a competition for limited funds, perhaps resulting in IMBA obtaining funds that would have otherwise gone to the organization.

  9. #9
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    I think the RLC is a way to bring more club leaders into the fold and to create more capacity and access among them to the top levels of regional government. It makes sense around here- you've got CLIMB, NYCMTB, JORBA, WMBA, Fats in the Cats, the newly-founded Hudson Highlanders- all in a fairly tight area. We all ride each others trails, and we all have some valuable experience that we can share with the leaders of the other groups (and can work together to incubate new groups where we need them). With a single IMBA rep, it's just more difficult to maintain continuity in the region if, say, that single rep relocates, gets disillusioned, or moves on. And it's much harder to ask that single rep to cover, on a volunteer basis, a wider geographic area in an even-handed manner. If nothing else, I think it's a great idea just to get top-level trail advocates in various regions together and bouncing ideas off each other.

    The RLC's only make sense if they're made up of the leadership of the current IMBA clubs. I don't think IMBA is going to go out on a limb and appoint random people who haven't been in the fray to the RLC's- they don't want to lose support of the clubs.
    Former New Yorker, now in Fort Collins
    http://www.nycmtb.com

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    Someone from IMBA needs to chime in.
    The challenge that Kansas City mtb advocates face is becoming somewhat common - capacity does not match opportunity. This growing challenge is largely what has spurred IMBA to take a new direction with our advocacy support programs.

    The RLCs are not advocacy organizations, or a new level of bureaucracy. The RLCs are facilitated networks of passionate mountain bikers assembled to share best practices, identify opportunities, cultivate leadership, build relationships, and develop strategies to benefit the mountain bike community. Each RLC's direction and character will be determined by the members of the RLC.

    Mike, Jamie, and Jmz are pretty accurate in their estimations of the RLC program. RLCs will exist to support clubs, develop more leadership within the mtb community (this includes "middle managers" that could eventually become board members or presidents), and develop strategies to cultivate and marshal more resources (human & economic). Paid staff in a region would serve to support affiliate clubs, not compete with them. IMBA is not interested in co-opting, usurping, controlling, or hijacking any club. IMBA understands that access advocacy starts and ends with the local club, that's why we seek to do what we've always done: Provide education and support.

    When you want answers from IMBA in the future, just give us a call or an email. You know our number and you have my email

    Ryan Schutz - IMBA
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    Someone from IMBA needs to chime in.

    After reading the FAQs and more about the program, it seems to me that this adds another layer of complexity in those areas with established organizations. Using CLIMB as an example and with the understanding that this is purely hypothetical:

    Currently
    CLIMB has strong relationships with Land Managers. Those Land Manager know and respect CLIMB based on the work done locally by CLIMB representatives. CLIMB from time to time asks IMBA for support in some capacity for their projects and because the NY IMBA State Rep is heavily involved with CLIMB.

    There are (hypothetical) times when the local LM's identify grant monies that are available that CLIMB can apply for and manage as those grant monies result in more trails that CLIMB helps bring to the public.

    New RLC
    There's now a regional branch of IMBA that would represent mountain bikers in the same region as CLIMB. CLIMB may or may not be represented on this regional IMBA branch based on whether or not a CLIMB member is selected by IMBA to join the regional IMBA RLC.

    One of the goals of the RLC's is to raise funds, manage grants and ultimately provide paid positions as part of the plan. This seems to put them in conflict with CLIMB, to me. And because IMBA has Trail Building division, do they expect to compete for regional trail building grants or paid trail building opportunities? It seems to me that the new RLC ensure that.

    So those organizations that have spent litterally decades establishing relationships with LM's are now not the go to voice for mountain biking advocacy in the region?

    Again, it would be nice if IMBA corporate would jump in here.
    I think you hit on some really good points here. Many local clubs of various types already work with local land managers with trail maintenance, trail patrol programs, materials and equipment support....etc, and on trail recommendations, design and construction.

    Some of them have been very successful for years. IMBA is definitely seen as more of the broader advocacy group with large membership drives, but not intimate with many local scenes.

    I know in my local area, several mountain bike clubs do the lions share of support for the local parks....State, County, and Federal areas, and IMBA really does not have much of a presence with the exception of a couple of NMBP club affiliates, but even these have created successful patrol groups on their own.

    I know for my personal part as a land manager....IMBA has not replied to more than a half dozen e-mail requests in the past two years, so we simply work through our own resources and the mountain biking community members.

    The concept sounds good, but I believe that most areas will always be served better by local groups that use their areas on a daily basis and have a close relationship with their local land managers.

    Good stuff though

    Thanks

  12. #12
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    JamR ... sorry to hear that your messages to IMBA went unanswered. Messages to "info@imba.com" come to me (I'm the communications director) and I try to answer all requests with 48 hours of receiving them. You can also write to me via markeller@imba.com I promise you will receive a reply.

    -- Mark

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    I think that having a paid position for IMBA is a very good idea. It gives a level of accoutnability and direction. I have been the IMBA Rep for North Carolina for the last two years. I did not get any direction from IMBA except for when I asked for advice. I personally felt like it was a little too hands off in some instances. But I always felt served, completely. I always get a response when I call on IMBA, usually the same day. Even though I have never felt more productive as a trail advocate, I do not think I have done every thing I could, mostly due to family responsibilities. After all, I am a volunteer and this is a big state. I dare say that the eastern part of NC has no voice in mtb'ing. This was one of my goals for next year, but I may not get to it since I will probably not be the Rep. next year. I am hopeful that the new person will be in place soon and they are on board with the good things that are going on in NC already. If IMBA can put the right person in place and have them guide and be responsible for their area, this could be very good. If IMBA does not guide this person and the person is not very responsible, it could be terrible. I hope this is a good move by IMBA, for all of our sakes. Until then, I am the Rep. for NC, if you have any concerns, let me know.

    Brian Williford
    NC IMBA Rep.

  14. #14
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    Here's where I'm confused. There will be 6-8 RLCs, so let's just say that's likely to be a bunch of 6-state groupings. The "Midwest RLC" could be Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma and Arkansas +/-. I know Kansas has at two State Reps, and so does Missouri. Let's assume each state has at least two, so you're talking 12-15 "Representatives" currently, with that number being closer to 20 if you have 8-state RLCs.

    The RLC will be 6-8 people, and they will be all volunteer to start, and from my reading of the documents, it sounds like these groups will be highly "encouraged" to actively seek out funding opportunities. That sounds like MORE work than the current system, not less.

    The 'election' process seems a little odd, in that you may have some very successful organizations in a region that will end up NOT having a representative on the RLC. My thought was that every IMBA-affiliate club/org should have one elected person on the RLC, even if they are on a lower-level board (like an Advisory Board), and they Executive Board members are elected from there, and they are the directional leaders. Every org/club has achieved their successes in a different way, so if you want truly collaborative learning/leadership, it seems odd to leave out a potentially large number of orgs.

    I think I read the words "funding" and "paid" about 50 times on two pages. It may have given me the wrong impression of the intended direction.

    And I think that Ken posting this here vs. having a 'private' conversation with IMBA is actually a good avenue. It's a way to find out what other clubs/orgs across the country are thinking and to figure out if he's just off base or if others have having the same concerns.

  15. #15
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    Took a while to stew on the response.

    First - I agree. Without local support, building and maintaining a local trail are very difficult, at best. And more likely than not to fail.

    Second - getting local people involved can be part of a regional operation. The group is there to help the local club building efforts, to be the ones to talk to local shops, etc. Sometimes it's just getting the word out to the locals that they CAN do something... sometimes.

    And Mike's success has been duplicated on many different levels. Getting NIMBA a trail in one of the state parks was pretty close to the same model. Work with the park, work with the state club guys, and work with IMBA to bring it all together. The planning stages took longer than the building stage for the first loop.

    Developing a regional group of leaders is a good idea, but I do hold some of the same worries that you have Ken. If they are not inclusive at some level - they're just going to hurt some group of locals. I've seen it at the local level and at the state level. If people don't feel like they're represented... and then it's hard to work towards the same goals.

    JmZ


    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    The problem with turning cold spots within regions in to hot spots has less to do with organizational representation and leadership and more to do with locals willing to act as the organizations official representative, Trail Steward or Trail Manager and accept ownership of an opportunity.

    Without local support, regional oversight/management or direction will never result in a success in a "cold" spot.

    We can see this play out in nationally recognized successes. IMBA was a part of Mike's success in New York but IMBA would and could not have been successful without Mike and CLIMB's direction and leadership.

    In the KC area, we have more requests for new trails than we can take on right now. Not because we need more "leadership" but because we don't have enough middle management willing to take ownership of the request or opportunity. We will not take on any new trail projects unless a qualified Trail Steward is identified and has volunteered to be responsible for that specific trail.

    There are limitations with a state rep program and I'm not suggesting that it doesn't need to be revamped. I have concerns with this approach because it really defocuses succesful organizations from what they're doing, runs the risk of confusing our clients (Land Managers and mountain bikers) and seems to put IMBA and those local groups in a competition for limited funds, perhaps resulting in IMBA obtaining funds that would have otherwise gone to the organization.
    JmZ

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    So IMBA is going to teach SORBA, NEMBA, MMBA and all the other established mountain biking advocacy organizations how to create sustainable clubs and trails? That seems unlikely.

    It seems to me that introducing another layer of "regional" mountain biking representation in regions that already have an established organization that works with LM's will muddy the water and potentially result in a conflicit of interest between IMBA and regional organizations.
    Not sure if this was already mentioned but SORBA has merged with IMBA. We are now called SORBA-IMBA. I refer to it as SIMBA. Following the merge all SORBA members became IMBA members and all IMBA members in the south east became SORBA members.

    I think IMBA is shifting slightly from teaching the world how to build trails to club building. They have written the book on traiol building techniques. Now they are moving into supporting local clubs. SORBA has done a good job on building local clubs. What we know about trail building we got from IMBA.

  17. #17
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    Sweet...

    Quote Originally Posted by willie b
    I think that having a paid position for IMBA is a very good idea. It gives a level of accoutnability and direction. I have been the IMBA Rep for North Carolina for the last two years. I did not get any direction from IMBA except for when I asked for advice. I personally felt like it was a little too hands off in some instances. But I always felt served, completely. I always get a response when I call on IMBA, usually the same day. Even though I have never felt more productive as a trail advocate, I do not think I have done every thing I could, mostly due to family responsibilities. After all, I am a volunteer and this is a big state. I dare say that the eastern part of NC has no voice in mtb'ing. This was one of my goals for next year, but I may not get to it since I will probably not be the Rep. next year. I am hopeful that the new person will be in place soon and they are on board with the good things that are going on in NC already. If IMBA can put the right person in place and have them guide and be responsible for their area, this could be very good. If IMBA does not guide this person and the person is not very responsible, it could be terrible. I hope this is a good move by IMBA, for all of our sakes. Until then, I am the Rep. for NC, if you have any concerns, let me know.

    Brian Williford
    NC IMBA Rep.

    You bring up a point that needs to be considered in the RLC approach that I don't see addressed: Does the RLC represent IMBA at the state level?

    I head to the Topeka (KS state capitol) 1-2 times a year as IMBA's representative to testify before the state house, senate or a sub-committee regarding legislation that impacts mountain biking, mountain biking access and or volunteering. I also testify before county and city boards or councils. In addition to driving and the actual testimony, this involves hours of preparation, meeting with lawyers and practice. I've been doing this for years. IMBA doesn't need to provide me with direction or provide any sort of reimbursement for this. I just do it as part of the job.

    I assume that the RLC will take this over for me? That would be awesome! I don't like the time commitment this takes. I don't like the lack of appreciation from a-holes who biatch about me not doing enough for them with my really expensive, free time.

    I think it's fantastic that the RLC will replace the state reps. It works a lot better for me, personally. I just don't see this addressed in the FAQ's.

    I don't get the sense that the RLC's will be entities that would look to IMBA for direction and leadership as you're suggesting. If they are in fact doing so, then I suggest this approach is heading in the wrong direction. Direction (goal setting, strategic planning, etc.) needs to work in both directions: The RLC needs to be aware of IMBA's goals but primarily, they need to support organizations in their region and obtain their direction from those organizations, not from IMBA.

  18. #18
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    I may assume too much...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    You bring up a point that needs to be considered in the RLC approach that I don't see addressed: Does the RLC represent IMBA at the state level?

    I head to the Topeka (KS state capitol) 1-2 times a year as IMBA's representative to testify before the state house, senate or a sub-committee regarding legislation that impacts mountain biking, mountain biking access and or volunteering. I also testify before county and city boards or councils. In addition to driving and the actual testimony, this involves hours of preparation, meeting with lawyers and practice. I've been doing this for years. IMBA doesn't need to provide me with direction or provide any sort of reimbursement for this. I just do it as part of the job.

    I assume that the RLC will take this over for me? That would be awesome! I don't like the time commitment this takes. I don't like the lack of appreciation from a-holes who biatch about me not doing enough for them with my really expensive, free time.

    I think it's fantastic that the RLC will replace the state reps. It works a lot better for me, personally. I just don't see this addressed in the FAQ's.

    I don't get the sense that the RLC's will be entities that would look to IMBA for direction and leadership as you're suggesting. If they are in fact doing so, then I suggest this approach is heading in the wrong direction. Direction (goal setting, strategic planning, etc.) needs to work in both directions: The RLC needs to be aware of IMBA's goals but primarily, they need to support organizations in their region and obtain their direction from those organizations, not from IMBA.
    I got the news about the RLC from a local chapter TORC-SORBA Rep. when he got back from the Summit in Utah. I could not go, I had a very pregnant wife at the time. Imagine my surprise when he told me I would likely not be the State Rep. next year. I took the job because the guy before me decided to spend more time with his family. Something I plan to do this year. I had heard nothing from IMBA prior. Once I spoke to a couple of folks at IMBA (Ryan for one) and other State Reps.(several), I figured out that IMBA had NOT decided what the RLC program was actually going to do at that time. I do not think the FAQ's cover everything. I think they are still figuring things out as they go. Probably not a good idea, but here we are, let's make the best of it. This is what I know for sure from the FAQ page:
    What about the IMBA State Rep program?
    The IMBA State Rep program is being replaced by RLCs.

    If IMBA does not lead the RLC's it won't be any different than the current State Rep. program. If they are running around without some guidance in foreign territory, they will be lost. Hopefully they will pick folks familiar with their area.? Maybe that guidance will come from us, the Reps.? Who knows? For now, I have not been contacted to serve as an RLC or been told who will be my new RLC will be.

    I do much like yourself, I travel to meetings/events all over the state representing and lobbying for IMBA and local clubs for mtb access. And just like you, on my own dime and precious time. This is why I said I probably have not done everything I could have due to family responsibilities. I know I don't do this for the jerks out there and I am sure you are not doing this for the "a-hoes who biatch about me not doing enough for them with my really expensive, free time". You are volunteering because YOU think it is the right thing to do and it is. You are the kind of people IMBA cannot do without. So, do not give up on them just yet. IMBA needs to be sure they do not disenfranchise some of their best volunteers, the State Reps. Because some of them may already feel this way...

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Francis Buxton
    "And I think that Ken posting this here vs. having a 'private' conversation with IMBA is actually a good avenue. It's a way to find out what other clubs/orgs across the country are thinking and to figure out if he's just off base or if others have having the same concerns."
    HEAR! HEAR!
    Thanks Ken.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Francis Buxton
    "And I think that Ken posting this here vs. having a 'private' conversation with IMBA is actually a good avenue. It's a way to find out what other clubs/orgs across the country are thinking and to figure out if he's just off base or if others have having the same concerns."
    Quote Originally Posted by Shelbak73
    HEAR! HEAR!
    Thanks Ken.
    Gotta agree too. This also helps IMBA know that their members and their volunteers have several questions. I tentatively am supportive of it, but I too have many of the same questions.

    Adding a level of middle management might be needed, or might be just another level of bureaucracy. It's a tough call, and depending on how well the groups are funded, how well they pull from the many volunteers working, and how well they can represent a multi-state area will determine if they were a good idea.

    Unfortunately that means I don't know how well it works, until it does, or doesn't.

    Getting rid of the State Reps is a risk, since many have been very successful in their efforts, but IF it means having a full time paid staff in a geographic region - it could more than make up for this 'loss' with this change.

    JmZ
    Last edited by JmZ; 01-03-2009 at 10:41 AM.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by JmZ

    Getting rid of the State Reps is a risk, since many have been very successful in their efforts, but IF it means having a full time paid staff in a geographic region - it could more than make up for this 'loss' with this change.en very successful in their efforts, but IF it means having a full time paid staff in a geographic region - it could more than make up for this 'loss' with this change.

    JmZ
    IMO, the most qualified people for this paid position are the state reps that have been largely successful. Up to now, they've done it on their own cost/time. If they were paid, they could put three or four times the effort into it....assuming being paid IMBA staff doesn't require a major pay cut. They already love the job or they would be doing it for free.

    The problem is that there isn't a one size fits all here. The rep that's an engineer isn't going to give up the day job for a paid position. However, putting that rep on a regional council may infact lighten the workload he was doing by making others more active. Sorta like making the board of your local club, 9 members instead of 5. You're likely to get more new blood doing more stuff that way.

    I don't think a regional council or area rep should mess with the affairs (negotiate/deal with local land managers) of a successful local club without being asked. That's where new bureaucracy gets made. There are plenty of areas without representation and state wide matters, grants to chase etc. that the paid position would do. It would be important for each local club to have a voice on the regional council.

  22. #22
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    Depending on what the RLCs eventually develop into and depending on what your local existing(or nonexistent) organizations are currently doing, they could be a good thing or maybe less so. The concern I have is what happens during the time they are being formed and becoming relevant.It seems to me that fewer toes would have been stepped on and the transition would have been smoother if the state reps had been left in place while this is organized with the option for them to eventually be integrated in to the RLC. In our case in NC we have had great service from Brian Williford and I see no way that a multi state RLC will be able to give us the local support that he does. I understand that other states have less active reps and in some cases they are even detrimental but I would have rather seen them dealt with individually and kept the reps working while the RLCs are formed. As far as I can see the local grassroots club efforts are where the rubber meets the dirt in the MTB world and while I understand and support big picture initiatives like the ride centers we can't focus too much on them at the expense of local efforts. RLCs look too much to me like we are moving the resources and decision making another step away from the local level. I also fully believe we should continue to find ways to fund everything from advocacy work to trail building but the transition from all volunteer to having some paid positions is a tricky thing to pull off. If the RLCs eventually help establish a funding pipeline that is equitably distributed across the board and includes the local level that will be great but that will be a challenge on several fronts.
    I hope the RLCs are a big success but I think the change could have been handled better. I know the reps are still technically in place but they were given their pink slips last July. The RLCs may be a long way from even getting started - I have yet to hear about anyone from central NC being contacted to help with the search committee or serve on the council.

    Stewart Bryan
    TORC
    SORBA/IMBA

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark E
    JamR ... sorry to hear that your messages to IMBA went unanswered. Messages to "info@imba.com" come to me (I'm the communications director) and I try to answer all requests with 48 hours of receiving them. You can also write to me via markeller@imba.com I promise you will receive a reply.

    -- Mark
    yeah right (can you say "black hole?)

    So to be a part of regional leadership one will have to be prepared to fund raise for yet another level of bureaucracy?

    ssweet
    I ride with the best people.




  24. #24
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    Volunteer turns Pro

    Many of the comments voiced here are right on and our hope is IMBA is listening with the understanding that veting this through an open forum should be embraced as a modern way to communicate.

    The way I read it "I have yet to hear about anyone ... being contacted to help with the search committee or serve on the council."

    Application and nominations are being taken by IMBA.


    After 20 years volunteering it would be great to "turn pro" but how would I (anyone) get paid?

    Seems of those who apply they would need to be connected to funds they can bring to the table that establish a budget for a "professional advocate".


    I made an assumption that IMBA wants to be involved in this discussion on this mtbr forum.
    OR
    As IMBA has stated-send a private email and we will do our best to answer.

    We seem to all have similar FAQ.

    Does IMBA want to use this forum?

  25. #25
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    No offense..

    Quote Originally Posted by willie b
    I got the news about the RLC from a local chapter TORC-SORBA Rep. when he got back from the Summit in Utah. I could not go, I had a very pregnant wife at the time. Imagine my surprise when he told me I would likely not be the State Rep. next year. I took the job because the guy before me decided to spend more time with his family. Something I plan to do this year. I had heard nothing from IMBA prior. Once I spoke to a couple of folks at IMBA (Ryan for one) and other State Reps.(several), I figured out that IMBA had NOT decided what the RLC program was actually going to do at that time. I do not think the FAQ's cover everything. I think they are still figuring things out as they go. Probably not a good idea, but here we are, let's make the best of it. This is what I know for sure from the FAQ page:
    What about the IMBA State Rep program?
    The IMBA State Rep program is being replaced by RLCs.

    If IMBA does not lead the RLC's it won't be any different than the current State Rep. program. If they are running around without some guidance in foreign territory, they will be lost. Hopefully they will pick folks familiar with their area.? Maybe that guidance will come from us, the Reps.? Who knows? For now, I have not been contacted to serve as an RLC or been told who will be my new RLC will be.

    I do much like yourself, I travel to meetings/events all over the state representing and lobbying for IMBA and local clubs for mtb access. And just like you, on my own dime and precious time. This is why I said I probably have not done everything I could have due to family responsibilities. I know I don't do this for the jerks out there and I am sure you are not doing this for the "a-hoes who biatch about me not doing enough for them with my really expensive, free time". You are volunteering because YOU think it is the right thing to do and it is. You are the kind of people IMBA cannot do without. So, do not give up on them just yet. IMBA needs to be sure they do not disenfranchise some of their best volunteers, the State Reps. Because some of them may already feel this way...
    I've been a state rep for over 10 years. I don't really need an IMBA pep talk. I've seen multiple complete employee turn overs within IMBA and this RLC approach is likely a result of the most recent leadership change and the new leaders bringing their perspective to IMBA. The RLC is probably an initiative presented for setting and trying to meet new strategic goals for IMBA. I think we all understand that at some level.


    My frustration is that IMBA made the public announcement with very little feedback from very many people. They took an idea that works great for one region and applied it to the entire world.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Howley

    The way I read it "I have yet to hear about anyone ... being contacted to help with the search committee or serve on the council."

    Application and nominations are being taken by IMBA.

    http://go.imba.com/site/Survey?ACTIO...SURVEY_ID=5081

    You can nominate someone through the link above.

    I received and email, made nominations about a month ago.

  27. #27
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    None taken. I've been around a while too, just not as State Rep.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    I've been a state rep for over 10 years. I don't really need an IMBA pep talk. I've seen multiple complete employee turn overs within IMBA and this RLC approach is likely a result of the most recent leadership change and the new leaders bringing their perspective to IMBA. The RLC is probably an initiative presented for setting and trying to meet new strategic goals for IMBA. I think we all understand that at some level.


    My frustration is that IMBA made the public announcement with very little feedback from very many people. They took an idea that works great for one region and applied it to the entire world.
    I think we are on the same page. Maybe they are listening now?

  28. #28
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    I am usually hesitant to try and have a productive discussion on a forum and maybe IMBA is feeling that way too.Sometimes things spin way out of control.I always feel like I fail to get across some part of what I am thinking. When you drop out part of my statement about not hearing about any progress in central NC it changes the meaning. I am aware of IMBA asking for nominations but what I meant was that in our part of this state(where I think I am involved enough to have heard) I am not aware of any one being contacted to serve on the council. There are also regional search committees to review applications and presumably recruit council members and I have not heard of anyone working on that committee either. Maybe the committee is well along in the process but with no representation from our area and maybe there have been no nominations from our area. My original point was that it appears the RLCs are still a ways from being functional and the transition from state reps could have been smoother. If the RLC in our area is set and central NC does not have a rep then that is a different concern.

  29. #29
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    But that's the central issue, I think....

    Quote Originally Posted by Blurred_Vision
    I am usually hesitant to try and have a productive discussion on a forum and maybe IMBA is feeling that way too.Sometimes things spin way out of control.I always feel like I fail to get across some part of what I am thinking. When you drop out part of my statement about not hearing about any progress in central NC it changes the meaning. I am aware of IMBA asking for nominations but what I meant was that in our part of this state(where I think I am involved enough to have heard) I am not aware of any one being contacted to serve on the council. There are also regional search committees to review applications and presumably recruit council members and I have not heard of anyone working on that committee either. Maybe the committee is well along in the process but with no representation from our area and maybe there have been no nominations from our area. My original point was that it appears the RLCs are still a ways from being functional and the transition from state reps could have been smoother. If the RLC in our area is set and central NC does not have a rep then that is a different concern.

    1. There has been little or no communicate with people currently neck deep in advocacy regarding the RLC program, yet it's been announced publicly, in the IMBA newsletter and on the website.

    2. My intent in posting isn't to bash IMBA. My point is to discuss this in an open and professional manner in about the only national (international) forum dedicated to trails and advocacy. Communicating in silos has never seemed a very effective way to engage in a dialog.

    3. If IMBA would prefer to establish a different way to discuss the RLC program in a manner that fosters dialog (that's not on a public BB), I think people will be okay with that so long as they have the ability to be involved in the discussion as they do here.

    4. Again, I'm stressing that this isn't IMBA bashing. IMBA is a fantastic organization who has done more for promoting trails (regardless of user group) than any organization since perhaps the CCC. Obviously I'm biased. The purpose purpose in this post is to engage in productive dailog.

  30. #30
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    I simply think the "unveiling" or application process could have been done better. It may sound petty, but I think sending out the initial RLC application invite to the SRs and then posting publicly would have been a better approach, to give just a little bit of courtesy to the people who have been busting their volunteer balls for the sport for years.

    There is a lot to talk in the PR docs about 'funding' and 'paid staff' etc., that makes it fairly clear (to me) that IMBAs primary goal over the next term is to increase membership in IMBA and bring in funding. The RLC application seems to be looking for accountants, graphic artists, salesmen, etc. that would work up a bunch of "glossies" to market the merits of IMBA membership and get more people to join not just their local club but IMBA as well. I understand that, and fully support more membership in IMBA, but I really think that each 'local' IMBA club or organization needs to have some sort of participation in their RLC.

    Like I said previously, the midwest has +/-12-15 IMBA reps that would be replaced by 6-8 RLC members, all of which would be unpaid volunteers until they find a funding source that will allow one or more of them to become paid staff. IMBA may have a hard time finding people that want to step up that kind of commitment for the next two years, because it sounds like twice as much work as being a state rep (and many SRs are facing terminal burnout). If each of the existing SRs and one appointed representative from each club/org were appointed to a lower-level "Advisory Board" of the RLC and then a 6-8 member "Executive Board" were elected from there, then I think the transition to the RLC system would be almost seamless and a lot more would get accomplished. IMBAs "open application" system could still be in effect to allow IMBA to infuse some additional fresh blood into the RLC and ensure it has good marketing/lobbying people in it as well as the seasoned advocates. This would also make a good way for SRs to be phase out and the torch can be passed to newer people.

    It may simply be the engineer in me, and I really don't mean to sound like a jerk about it, but it just seems like a plan that was thought through about 75%, but the final nuts and bolts were all hammered out, leaving a number of loose ends, leading to discussions like this.

    I know we've dropped some fairly hard-hitting comments/questions here, but I would be nice to hear some more response from Ryan and the rest of IMBA.

  31. #31
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    fwiw Oklahoma has one Rep... just like all the others I don't think he was contacted about giving feedback to or helping with the RLC program. I think this goes to some of the other comments, that IMBA doesn't seem very pro-active or consistent with asking IMBA reps for feedback or ideas. Yes IMBA reps. can do their jobs without any help since so much info is available on-line, in papers, books, World Summit, etc but I don't think IMBA has used their reps in years. This was very obvious when they released their 'State rankings' a few years back without getting the latest info from their reps... result; odd rating and comments...

    anyway, for some reason this topic makes me think 'MidWest MTB Summit'...

    Marcel
    OKC

    Quote Originally Posted by Francis Buxton
    Here's where I'm confused. There will be 6-8 RLCs, so let's just say that's likely to be a bunch of 6-state groupings. The "Midwest RLC" could be Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma and Arkansas +/-. I know Kansas has at two State Reps, and so does Missouri. Let's assume each state has at least two, so you're talking 12-15 "Representatives" currently, with that number being closer to 20 if you have 8-state RLCs.
    Last edited by cooldaddy; 01-07-2009 at 06:30 AM.

  32. #32
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    Did you see the press release about SRAM donating $200k to IMBA? This line stuck out...

    "We will invest $150,000 to add professional staff on a regional basis to bolster local clubs capacity to build and maintain trails,"
    Former New Yorker, now in Fort Collins
    http://www.nycmtb.com

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken in KC
    1. There has been little or no communicate with people currently neck deep in advocacy regarding the RLC program, yet it's been announced publicly, in the IMBA newsletter and on the website.

    2. My intent in posting isn't to bash IMBA. My point is to discuss this in an open and professional manner in about the only national (international) forum dedicated to trails and advocacy. Communicating in silos has never seemed a very effective way to engage in a dialog.

    3. If IMBA would prefer to establish a different way to discuss the RLC program in a manner that fosters dialog (that's not on a public BB), I think people will be okay with that so long as they have the ability to be involved in the discussion as they do here.

    4. Again, I'm stressing that this isn't IMBA bashing. IMBA is a fantastic organization who has done more for promoting trails (regardless of user group) than any organization since perhaps the CCC. Obviously I'm biased. The purpose purpose in this post is to engage in productive dailog.
    I've got a nomination.....Ken in KC for the post of National director IMBA USA.
    Qualifications: Honset, Proactive, Transparent, Experienced, and that's just for starters.
    I sincerly appreciate Ken's approach to this issue, it shows his open mindedness and confidence in bringing this debate to an open forum where all mountain bikers can get involved and participate in the re-organization of the association that represents us world wide.

    A vote for Ken in KC is a vote for change.
    or perhaps.......
    Tired of the status quo? Vote Maverick, Vote Ken in KC.

    Perhaps IMBA should have a forum on their web page, that way we wouldn't have to have this discussion on this open forum.
    Last edited by Shelbak73; 01-08-2009 at 06:43 PM.

  34. #34
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    Wow, this is a great conversation. Sorry I didn't check back in sooner. Thanks to Chris Scott for giving me the heads-up.

    Managing the launch of the RLC has been challenging, and I know that things haven't progressed as smoothly as they could.

    The process of developing this program has involved consulting many State Reps and longtime advocates via phone, in-person, and email communication. I sent an email to all 120 reps and called about 35 (the ones in the first proposed RLC regions) in the summer to give them a heads-up of the coming changes that would be announced initially at the IMBA Summit, then more broadly through eNews and the ITN. Since then, priorities have shifted and progress with RLCs has slowed.

    With the New Year we've restarted the process of establishing RLCs. It will be done region by region, starting with areas that will receive paid staff thanks to the SRAM money. We're starting with RLC development committees, which are groups of longtime advocates (either state reps or club leaders), to provide guidance, help us vet new contacts (applicants & nominees) and recruit the all-stars. Ideally, an RLC will include the State Reps that want to continue working with IMBA, some proven up-and-comers (who we can hopefully bring up to the level of guys like Ken Miner, Mike Vitti, or Tim Wegner), and some new faces that have specialized skills or are well connected (example: Steve Hawley of Hawley USA, the big Southeast parts distributor, will be on the Southeast RLC). We're aiming for 12-15 members per RLC. We've taken this concept from successful networking groups like the Lions, Rotary, and Chambers of Commerce, who have been able to significantly enhance their regional impact through councils. The first RLCs will be in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Upper Midwest, California, and Northwest. The Northeast will follow soon after with the Mountain States, New England, and Texas. Admittedly, the middle of the country poses challenges due to the locations of population centers, so I want to get a few RLCs off of the ground and learn a bit more before we tackle the Great Plains, North Eastern Rockies/Northern Plains, Alaska, and Hawaii.

    RLCs will not be a level of bureaucracy, and they will not try to tell anyone what to do. And we absolutely do not want to be exclusionary or ignore the exceptional volunteers who are responsible for building the relationships and trail communities that lead to building trails, the goal is to bring everyone closer together, to make IMBA more responsive to the needs of local clubs, and to bring more resources into local advocacy. We can't do this without support from clubs and advocacy leaders. RLCs will exist to support advocacy (give existing advocates/clubs support and fill gaps when we find them), catalog best practices for a region, cultivate leadership, and develop regional strategies for cultivating resources (human and economic) in conjunction with local clubs. Overall, they will assess the needs of a region and respond. Each region will probably have different goals and strategies that are catered to the region. Also, councils will provide a level of support, consistency and accountability for IMBA's volunteer advocacy force that was nearly impossible to provide with the stand-alone State Rep system.

    The RLC will result in more IMBA-connected advocates than the rep program, but with a structure that allows IMBA to actually provide support and guidance. The Upper Midwest Region (Wisconsin, Iowa, Eastern SD, Eastern ND, and maybe northern Illinois) currently has 6 active reps, we'll bring that up to 12-15 through the RLC, and no one will be left to go it alone. I used to be a State Rep, I've founded 2 clubs (one had 300 members when I left), been a club leader and local advocate, and I was lucky enough to be part of the Trail Care Crew for 2 years. I know how important it is to have a support network, and how hard it is to go it alone.

    Region boundaries will be flexible over time, and we're trying to structure regions so that population centers relative to riding areas result in collaboration between regions. An example is the Allegheny region of PA. Tons of folks from Virginia and Maryland go there to ride, but PA will be in a different region than VA & MD. This should encourage collaboration between these regions. We may even ask some key people to serve on RLCs in 2 regions in order to strengthen the bond between regions. We want this program to be flexible and responsive - the opposite of bureaucracy. Once launched, IMBA wants to provide the support and direction necessary to make the RLCs become whatever the local leadership in the region needs them to be. We're looking for marketing and design professionals so that they can help clubs design better marketing plans & materials, we're looking for fundraisers and financially minded folks so that they can give clubs better fundraising & leveraging strategies. We want lawyers and Insurance/Risk Management folk to help us assess clubs' true liability exposure and give guidance in crafting agreements state-by-state.

    Yes, money is a big part of IMBA's new strategies because we're seeing more and more situations, like what Stewart and TORC have in the NC Triangle area, where opportunities are exceeding volunteer capacity. Land managers want the trails, but remain unwilling or unable to fund & construct them, so we want to develop revenue sources that fund professional trail construction (or at least do the heavy lifting so that volunteers can handle finishing or design/approval work).

    Paid Staff: The first paid staffers will not be political advocates or policy analysts. Local advocates already own those relationships and we don't want to interfere. Staff will have to swim in those waters a bit just because of the nature of the job, or when their assistance is requested by locals, but their focus will be development. This means putting resources together with opportunities in order to enhance club capacity, grow revenue through membership and corporate support, and build trails. The original plan was to set up the RLCs and work to develop funding for staff. But we knew that would take a while, so we then decided to go after some seed money from grants & industry to hire staff now, knowing that we have the potential to generate enough revenue over the next 5 years to add paid staffers focused on politics, or whatever else is necessary. Regional Directors will work with RLCs to get things done and report directly to IMBA's Executive Director in order to help IMBA shape our programs to achieve the greatest good.

    Now, there's another part of this strategy that we haven't talked much about, partly because we learned from the RLC program not to broadly advertise a program until it's ready, this the Partnership Program (we haven't even settled on this name, it will probably change later). This program is intended to provide administrative support to clubs, freeing volunteers from burdens of accounting, data management, membership renewals & fulfillment, and most other aspects of membership management, so that they can focus on the fun, fulfilling & productive apects of advocacy. Part of this program is joint membership, where IMBA and the local club share members & member revenue. This creates greater incentive within IMBA to support clubs and help them build membership, while giving the local club a big boost in membership (so far we've found only 10%-20% overlap between IMBA members and local club members). It also serves our political goals by generating a larger constituency and unified approach. This program will include a host of tools designed to make it easier to generate club communications, raise funds locally, manage web resources, and eventually even manage events. We've started this already with SORBA, they've been a wonderful partner and helped us work out some tough challenges. In March we'll launch this program at the beta level, offering it to some select clubs that we've been working with, including large established clubs and some new groups that are starting up in areas that have long lacked a mtb advocacy group. We'll probably bring on a few more clubs that fit a certain criteria during '09, then launch the program for all comers in 2010.

    Mountain bike advocates, comprised almost exclusively of volunteers, have done amazing things over the last 25 years, and we've done it with the support of .2% of mountain bike enthusiasts. Not 2%, but two-tenths of one percent. That's according to our estimates of everyone that's been a member of IMBA or a local club v. Outdoor Industry Association estimates of the number of mountain bike enthusiasts out there. Our potential for growth is tremendous. We'd grow 10 times by simply upping our number of supporters to 2%. Our trailbuilding savvy and proven capacity to steward trails & create trails dwarfs that of the other user groups. Our opportunities for new trails are growing quickly. We even have the political will to access federal and state lands that were once off-limits. All we're lacking is resources, dollars and hands to build the trails and provide support to local clubs. This is our plan to get there.

    Together, we're better.

    Thanks again for all of the interest, I was hesitant to hold a conversation here because I thought it was going to be a lot of effort to reach a few people, when I generally prefer a phone conversation. Clearly I was wrong. Your input will be very valuable as we move this process forward. I'll try to provide regular updates here and respond to questions.

    Thanks for reading all of these words,

    Ryan
    Last edited by DancingBear; 01-09-2009 at 07:04 PM.
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  35. #35
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    Now that's one heII of an explainer, Thanks Ryan!

  36. #36
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    Good explanation, and I think it answers a lot of concerns.

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    just got into this thread, thanks Howley!

    First, I am impressed and amazed at the level of knowledge among many of you. I am way behind your level of seeming professionalism. I am honored to be able to discuss advocacy with you.

    Second, from what I understand here, the RLC concept looks excellent, but I agree it is half-baked at this point in time. Being from Montana, while reading this thread, I am mulling over how our situation would fit into this scheme physically. How boundaries would be drawn. I see a real symbiotic relationship with Idaho, because of our long and mountainous shared boundary.

    Third, the timeline and strategy for staged inclusion into the RLC program would leave Montana high and dry. It was noted by Ryan that the Northwest would become part of this program in the first stage, and the Rocky Mountain region in a later second stage. Generally Montana is a Rocky Mountain State, which would be included later. We have been crying for a more focused assistance for several years now. The timeline and staging would doom our hoped-for extra assistance from IMBA to a future point that would be too late.

    Our situation doesn't call for building trails, we have thousands of miles of highly endangered ones. Ryan mentioned trails first, politics after. He mentioned the political end of it would recieve no funding, as locals have things under control. Actually in Montana we barely have a grasp of which way to turn from week to week. We are all volunteer, with no funding, and some of us are now out of work as well! By "we" I mean the active members of the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance. This club was started because the local clubs within the state did no advocacy. It has been only halfway formed because of the frequency of the fires we are fighting. The MMBA is persuing an IMBA Charter status at this time. Most of the local clubs are sporadically functioning, some better, some less better. Two strong ones have almost dissolved. What I see is that Ryan's grasp of parts of the big picture is incomplete. Hopefully, an RLC, formed correctly, and not hampered by being part of a later planned sequencing, will fix most of the dire situation that exists here.

    I would love to be part of that program, one part of an RLC. I would love to be paid too, but I need a job now, not in 2010.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregB406
    The timeline and staging would doom our hoped-for extra assistance from IMBA to a future point that would be too late.

    Actually in Montana we barely have a grasp of which way to turn from week to week. We are all volunteer, with no funding, and some of us are now out of work as well!
    IMBA is currently laying off field program staff to roll out the RLC program. Your situation will be even more hard pressed to get support from the office staff if your state is not in the PNW region.

    How does everyone feel about the RLC program now? No support from Boulder.

  39. #39
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    Interested in the SW region

    Quote Originally Posted by DancingBear
    Wow, this is a great conversation. Sorry I didn't check back in sooner. Thanks to Chris Scott for giving me the heads-up.

    Managing the launch of the RLC has been challenging, and I know that things haven't progressed as smoothly as they could.

    The process of developing this program has involved consulting many State Reps and longtime advocates via phone, in-person, and email communication. I sent an email to all 120 reps and called about 35 (the ones in the first proposed RLC regions) in the summer to give them a heads-up of the coming changes that would be announced initially at the IMBA Summit, then more broadly through eNews and the ITN. Since then, priorities have shifted and progress with RLCs has slowed.

    With the New Year we've restarted the process of establishing RLCs. It will be done region by region, starting with areas that will receive paid staff thanks to the SRAM money. We're starting with RLC development committees, which are groups of longtime advocates (either state reps or club leaders), to provide guidance, help us vet new contacts (applicants & nominees) and recruit the all-stars. Ideally, an RLC will include the State Reps that want to continue working with IMBA, some proven up-and-comers (who we can hopefully bring up to the level of guys like Ken Miner, Mike Vitti, or Tim Wegner), and some new faces that have specialized skills or are well connected (example: Steve Hawley of Hawley USA, the big Southeast parts distributor, will be on the Southeast RLC). We're aiming for 12-15 members per RLC. We've taken this concept from successful networking groups like the Lions, Rotary, and Chambers of Commerce, who have been able to significantly enhance their regional impact through councils. The first RLCs will be in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Upper Midwest, California, and Northwest. The Northeast will follow soon after with the Mountain States, New England, and Texas. Admittedly, the middle of the country poses challenges due to the locations of population centers, so I want to get a few RLCs off of the ground and learn a bit more before we tackle the Great Plains, North Eastern Rockies/Northern Plains, Alaska, and Hawaii.

    RLCs will not be a level of bureaucracy, and they will not try to tell anyone what to do. And we absolutely do not want to be exclusionary or ignore the exceptional volunteers who are responsible for building the relationships and trail communities that lead to building trails, the goal is to bring everyone closer together, to make IMBA more responsive to the needs of local clubs, and to bring more resources into local advocacy. We can't do this without support from clubs and advocacy leaders. RLCs will exist to support advocacy (give existing advocates/clubs support and fill gaps when we find them), catalog best practices for a region, cultivate leadership, and develop regional strategies for cultivating resources (human and economic) in conjunction with local clubs. Overall, they will assess the needs of a region and respond. Each region will probably have different goals and strategies that are catered to the region. Also, councils will provide a level of support, consistency and accountability for IMBA's volunteer advocacy force that was nearly impossible to provide with the stand-alone State Rep system.

    The RLC will result in more IMBA-connected advocates than the rep program, but with a structure that allows IMBA to actually provide support and guidance. The Upper Midwest Region (Wisconsin, Iowa, Eastern SD, Eastern ND, and maybe northern Illinois) currently has 6 active reps, we'll bring that up to 12-15 through the RLC, and no one will be left to go it alone. I used to be a State Rep, I've founded 2 clubs (one had 300 members when I left), been a club leader and local advocate, and I was lucky enough to be part of the Trail Care Crew for 2 years. I know how important it is to have a support network, and how hard it is to go it alone.

    Region boundaries will be flexible over time, and we're trying to structure regions so that population centers relative to riding areas result in collaboration between regions. An example is the Allegheny region of PA. Tons of folks from Virginia and Maryland go there to ride, but PA will be in a different region than VA & MD. This should encourage collaboration between these regions. We may even ask some key people to serve on RLCs in 2 regions in order to strengthen the bond between regions. We want this program to be flexible and responsive - the opposite of bureaucracy. Once launched, IMBA wants to provide the support and direction necessary to make the RLCs become whatever the local leadership in the region needs them to be. We're looking for marketing and design professionals so that they can help clubs design better marketing plans & materials, we're looking for fundraisers and financially minded folks so that they can give clubs better fundraising & leveraging strategies. We want lawyers and Insurance/Risk Management folk to help us assess clubs' true liability exposure and give guidance in crafting agreements state-by-state.

    Yes, money is a big part of IMBA's new strategies because we're seeing more and more situations, like what Stewart and TORC have in the NC Triangle area, where opportunities are exceeding volunteer capacity. Land managers want the trails, but remain unwilling or unable to fund & construct them, so we want to develop revenue sources that fund professional trail construction (or at least do the heavy lifting so that volunteers can handle finishing or design/approval work).

    Paid Staff: The first paid staffers will not be political advocates or policy analysts. Local advocates already own those relationships and we don't want to interfere. Staff will have to swim in those waters a bit just because of the nature of the job, or when their assistance is requested by locals, but their focus will be development. This means putting resources together with opportunities in order to enhance club capacity, grow revenue through membership and corporate support, and build trails. The original plan was to set up the RLCs and work to develop funding for staff. But we knew that would take a while, so we then decided to go after some seed money from grants & industry to hire staff now, knowing that we have the potential to generate enough revenue over the next 5 years to add paid staffers focused on politics, or whatever else is necessary. Regional Directors will work with RLCs to get things done and report directly to IMBA's Executive Director in order to help IMBA shape our programs to achieve the greatest good.

    Now, there's another part of this strategy that we haven't talked much about, partly because we learned from the RLC program not to broadly advertise a program until it's ready, this the Partnership Program (we haven't even settled on this name, it will probably change later). This program is intended to provide administrative support to clubs, freeing volunteers from burdens of accounting, data management, membership renewals & fulfillment, and most other aspects of membership management, so that they can focus on the fun, fulfilling & productive apects of advocacy. Part of this program is joint membership, where IMBA and the local club share members & member revenue. This creates greater incentive within IMBA to support clubs and help them build membership, while giving the local club a big boost in membership (so far we've found only 10%-20% overlap between IMBA members and local club members). It also serves our political goals by generating a larger constituency and unified approach. This program will include a host of tools designed to make it easier to generate club communications, raise funds locally, manage web resources, and eventually even manage events. We've started this already with SORBA, they've been a wonderful partner and helped us work out some tough challenges. In March we'll launch this program at the beta level, offering it to some select clubs that we've been working with, including large established clubs and some new groups that are starting up in areas that have long lacked a mtb advocacy group. We'll probably bring on a few more clubs that fit a certain criteria during '09, then launch the program for all comers in 2010.

    Mountain bike advocates, comprised almost exclusively of volunteers, have done amazing things over the last 25 years, and we've done it with the support of .2% of mountain bike enthusiasts. Not 2%, but two-tenths of one percent. That's according to our estimates of everyone that's been a member of IMBA or a local club v. Outdoor Industry Association estimates of the number of mountain bike enthusiasts out there. Our potential for growth is tremendous. We'd grow 10 times by simply upping our number of supporters to 2%. Our trailbuilding savvy and proven capacity to steward trails & create trails dwarfs that of the other user groups. Our opportunities for new trails are growing quickly. We even have the political will to access federal and state lands that were once off-limits. All we're lacking is resources, dollars and hands to build the trails and provide support to local clubs. This is our plan to get there.

    Together, we're better.

    Thanks again for all of the interest, I was hesitant to hold a conversation here because I thought it was going to be a lot of effort to reach a few people, when I generally prefer a phone conversation. Clearly I was wrong. Your input will be very valuable as we move this process forward. I'll try to provide regular updates here and respond to questions.

    Thanks for reading all of these words,

    Ryan
    Ryan, I would like to discuss the SW RLC program with you when you have the time. I've emailed you @ IMBA, please reply.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by splitter_66
    IMBA is currently laying off field program staff to roll out the RLC program. Your situation will be even more hard pressed to get support from the office staff if your state is not in the PNW region.

    How does everyone feel about the RLC program now? No support from Boulder.
    No wonder your name is Splitter. If you are gonna flame, provide some real details. Who is being laid off? Might there actually be a different reason for this? Might there be more to what you are saying? Are you being selective with that remark?
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregB406
    Who is being laid off? Might there actually be a different reason for this? Might there be more to what you are saying? Are you being selective with that remark?
    I take it you didn't work with one of the laid off staffers and so you didn't get the e-mail last week?
    Former New Yorker, now in Fort Collins
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    ---
    Last edited by splitter_66; 01-20-2009 at 04:44 PM.

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    Wouldn't the truth be more that IMBA's membership revenue is down and so IMBA *has* to let staff go, and will hopefully make up some of the difference with the RLC's? The situation pretty much sucks for all sides, as far as I can tell.

    No matter what the decision, IMBA is damned if they do, and damned if they don't.
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  44. #44
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    Some thoughts...

    Quote Originally Posted by GregB406
    First, I am impressed and amazed at the level of knowledge among many of you. I am way behind your level of seeming professionalism. I am honored to be able to discuss advocacy with you.

    Second, from what I understand here, the RLC concept looks excellent, but I agree it is half-baked at this point in time. Being from Montana, while reading this thread, I am mulling over how our situation would fit into this scheme physically. How boundaries would be drawn. I see a real symbiotic relationship with Idaho, because of our long and mountainous shared boundary.

    Third, the timeline and strategy for staged inclusion into the RLC program would leave Montana high and dry. It was noted by Ryan that the Northwest would become part of this program in the first stage, and the Rocky Mountain region in a later second stage. Generally Montana is a Rocky Mountain State, which would be included later. We have been crying for a more focused assistance for several years now. The timeline and staging would doom our hoped-for extra assistance from IMBA to a future point that would be too late.

    Our situation doesn't call for building trails, we have thousands of miles of highly endangered ones. Ryan mentioned trails first, politics after. He mentioned the political end of it would recieve no funding, as locals have things under control. Actually in Montana we barely have a grasp of which way to turn from week to week. We are all volunteer, with no funding, and some of us are now out of work as well! By "we" I mean the active members of the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance. This club was started because the local clubs within the state did no advocacy. It has been only halfway formed because of the frequency of the fires we are fighting. The MMBA is persuing an IMBA Charter status at this time. Most of the local clubs are sporadically functioning, some better, some less better. Two strong ones have almost dissolved. What I see is that Ryan's grasp of parts of the big picture is incomplete. Hopefully, an RLC, formed correctly, and not hampered by being part of a later planned sequencing, will fix most of the dire situation that exists here.

    I would love to be part of that program, one part of an RLC. I would love to be paid too, but I need a job now, not in 2010.
    Let me get this out of the way: Splitter_66: This isn't an IMBA b!tch post. If you have problems with organizational structure of IMBA corporate, please find your own vehicle to voice that frustration.

    Greg,

    I understand your frustration. We're fortunate because we have a population base to draw on in Kansas City that is likely larger than the population of Montana. But we had a similar problem as you're describing. In our case, there was a split focus between the social club aspect of mountain biking and the political aspect of advocacy.

    What we found is that people interested in group rides, social club meetings, racing, etc. weren't always the same people that were interested in advocacy and the political side of mountain biking access. We wound up splitting the club and the advocacy organization and it worked well for us. By splitting the organization, ERTA (the advocacy organization) could focus on access and Earth Riders (the club) could focus on membership, newsletters, group rides, etc.

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    I must take issue with the claim that Montana has a situation similar to Kansas City. We have, in a way, created a "split" club system. The Montana Mountain Bike alliance plays that split role, being an umbrella advocate group for various clubs and individuals around the state. We may have a similar population base, we are approaching 1 M.

    But where we differ, on a grand scale, is that we are facing the creation of over 50 wilderness areas. We will lose about 80 to 90 percent of our alpine backcountry access. This access is public land, and is relevant to anyone from anywhere to come here to enjoy on a bike. So the point I must make is that we need vast amounts of help, support, whatever, to stay off this loss. We look to IMBA for guidance and assistance, and it is tough to take sitting down that our access and resource would be squandered to instead cheerlead another urban jump park. (for example) The difference is, wilderness is forever, there is always time to build urban trails.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregB406
    I So the point I must make is that we need vast amounts of help, support, whatever, to stay off this loss. We look to IMBA for guidance and assistance, and it is tough to take sitting down that our access and resource would be squandered to instead cheerlead another urban jump park. (for example) The difference is, wilderness is forever, there is always time to build urban trails.
    Touché. While I understand your concern because you're losing what's close to you, realize that for every trail advocate, everywhere, *their* trails are the highest priority. And somehow IMBA has to play triage nurse to all of it, deciding where to dole out thin resources in situations where they can do the most good or have a reasonable shot of success.

    But the bottom line to all of this is that in wilderness battles like that, IMBA's going up against groups like the Sierra Club, who have three paid staff and tens of thousands of members in Montana alone. Until we all step up to the plate, increase IMBA's membership rolls, give them real money to pay regional staff with, and hefty membership rolls to approach politicians with, mountain bikers are going to get the short end of the stick.

    Arguing about how IMBA's splitting up the pie is counter-productive. What we need to be working towards is a bigger pie. That's the whole point of the RLC program, and that's why I support it. Lets build stronger local and regional IMBA organizations, and in turn, create a stronger IMBA that better serves all of us.
    Former New Yorker, now in Fort Collins
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  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbogner

    But the bottom line to all of this is that in wilderness battles like that, IMBA's going up against groups like the Sierra Club, who have three paid staff and tens of thousands of members in Montana alone. Until we all step up to the plate, increase IMBA's membership rolls, give them real money to pay regional staff with, and hefty membership rolls to approach politicians with, mountain bikers are going to get the short end of the stick.

    Arguing about how IMBA's splitting up the pie is counter-productive. What we need to be working towards is a bigger pie. That's the whole point of the RLC program, and that's why I support it. Lets build stronger local and regional IMBA organizations, and in turn, create a stronger IMBA that better serves all of us.
    How true. Building membership would trump building trails in Montana.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

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    So, there have been layoffs and staff restructuring here at IMBA, but it has nothing to do with launching RLCs and everything to do with our shrinking economy. If anything, layoffs further complicate the process of launching new field programs. But, while we've lost some revenue on one end, we've received a BIG grant from SRAM that is earmarked by SRAM for Regional Director deployment. The end result will be more direct assistance to grassroots clubs.

    I can expand on Regional Director roles and the 18-month plan if anyone is interested. We're still finalizing job descriptions and director roles. I'll definitely start a new thread once we have the details worked out.

    I understand Greg's concerns about support for areas like Montana. The big places with low populations and far-flung population centers pose challenges in terms of regional structure, but the RLCs are communication networks, and we're going to make sure that every advocacy community has opportunities to be connected. Knowledge and technology will overcome the challenges of geography.

    Montana currently gets a lot of attention from IMBA staff due to the Wilderness fight brewing in the state and opportunities for collaboration that folks like GregB and the MMBA crew have created. That attention is not going away. We will continue to assist MMBA in organizing the Montana MTB advocacy community and work with the advocacy community to make the best of Wilderness.

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  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbogner
    I think the RLC is a way to bring more club leaders into the fold and to create more capacity and access among them to the top levels of regional government. It makes sense around here- you've got CLIMB, NYCMTB, JORBA, WMBA, Fats in the Cats, the newly-founded Hudson Highlanders- all in a fairly tight area. We all ride each others trails, and we all have some valuable experience that we can share with the leaders of the other groups (and can work together to incubate new groups where we need them). With a single IMBA rep, it's just more difficult to maintain continuity in the region if, say, that single rep relocates, gets disillusioned, or moves on. And it's much harder to ask that single rep to cover, on a volunteer basis, a wider geographic area in an even-handed manner. If nothing else, I think it's a great idea just to get top-level trail advocates in various regions together and bouncing ideas off each other.

    The RLC's only make sense if they're made up of the leadership of the current IMBA clubs. I don't think IMBA is going to go out on a limb and appoint random people who haven't been in the fray to the RLC's- they don't want to lose support of the clubs.
    This is how I see it as well. The existing clubs have the relationships and trust of the Land Managers. You don't substitute new faces. IMBA knows this.

    This is an interesting topic. Thanks to my RLC nominee BobW for cluing me in on this post.

    In New Jersey, we're working hard to have a unified voice and get recognition at the state and county level for parks we work our asses off in. However, part of our problem (this is JORBA I'm talking about) is that we're a "chapter heavy" organization. By that I mean that many of our chapters are known only as the local chapter name, not a "group X, a chapter of JORBA", or worse just as "group X" (which means there's a perception of no alliance with JORBA or no knowledge of JORBA). In essence, we're working through issues at the state level, solidifying our brand, improving communications, and increasing our credibility through mutually shared metrics (trail work hours, volunteer headcount counts, miles built, membership numbers, etc.) that I think would be also apply and be advantageous at the regional level (for the same reason its better to be part of JORBA than be a lone club trying to do trail work in NJ). So, for example, once JORBA get's house in order (we're getting there), I'd be darn honored to unify up at a regional level with CLIMB, NYCMTB, Fats, PA clubs, etc. if all parties also felt it was advantageous to do so. We'd still have to have local groups with local faces at the local parks, where relationships have been cultivated for years and a high level of land manager trust exists, but walking into a state park stating we have 5000+ hours of trail work in 2008 and 300+ members is way more impressive than walking in as Bike club X with 25 members. If creating a RLC and a ultimately a NY, NJ, PA, etc regional entity is what this means, I think I can speak for NJ and state that we're certainly willing to entertain it. I see the SORBA's and NEMBA's doing great things and I don't see why that model could not work in our area as well. This might be outside of the RLC mission at this point, but I can see the creation of a RLC committee that spans these states facilitating such a unification.

  50. #50
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    Great comments Mergs. One of the outcomes of the RLC and affiliate programs should be a unified front. NEMBA, IMBA-SORBA, and MMBA definitely benefit from their scale - more members, more volunteer hours, etc. We should be able to do the same thing across the country, while maintaining the autonomy and self-determination that make local clubs responsive and flexible.
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