Somebody else's turn or help share the responsibility and/or guilt?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Somebody else's turn or help share the responsibility and/or guilt?

    Hi,

    I've been bashed and flamed and on and off-line for past posts to get people out to work days and it seems we all have the same problem. Anybody want to take their turn to do some cheer leading in the passion or general forums?

    For the sake of timing I was going to hold off until days before my next work day, but I think it's good to keep volunteering in front of people.

    I keep thinking about our recent time with a Department Of Natural Resources section chief who verified my assumptions about which user groups do the most for their sport, and his cel phone calls while in the woods were about ATV, horse and hiking. I know the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and those with money get things fixed.

    Let's all try to get more bodies out there!

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Don't worry, be happy!
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    hey- I feel your pain. As the president of a MINISCULE bike club, I totally alternate between passion and borderline burnout. As much as I wish I could translate the satisfaction I get from swinging a pulaksi into something tangible.... either people get it or they don't. You can't guilt them into getting it, although I'm beginning to think you can bribe them.

    Here's an idea I got from a different club that I am working on reformulating for ours. My hubby's whitewater club had the same 6-10 people doing everything, at every meeting, and it was really stalled. With the help of a local gear retailer, they've upped participation about 200%.

    Also, MAMBA down south of us has really good turn out for thier work parties.
    The tie in is that both these groups have really good swag. I think what they do is everyone who shows up for a work day gets a ticket, and they draw for something that day, and then at the end of the season, they give away really cool stuff like a full day trip for two on the Salmon river, dinner for two...

    What the boating club has is a "bag of swag". They get all sorts of gear donated and the pile grows over the season. By the end of the season they can have thousands of $$ of stuff. So what they do is this.... you buy a ticket for a CHANCE at the pile of stuff. If your ticket is drawn, you get to pull a poker chip out of a bag. If you get a white one, you get nada. A blue one means you get to pick one thing, and the red one ( there's only one) means you get the whole pile. This is what gets people coming, a chance to win the pile of swag.

    So, I'm working on how to modify these ideas for our club. I'm going nuts waiting to hear back from the IRS on our 501 application. I'm working on getting the nerve up to ask local shops for more than tubes and bike bottles.

    formica

  3. #3
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    We've got a local trailworkers group that gets a lot of swag. Usually there is free food at the trail days, as well as free edmission to the park. Day passes at state parks around here are otherwise $5 or $6!! Then there are the weekly swag items like tubes or small gift certificates. Then this past year they had a series of prizes for most trail days, with top prize being a pretty nice bike.

    check out trailworkers.com.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitflogger

    I've been bashed and flamed and on and off-line for past posts to get people out to work days and it seems we all have the same problem.
    I picked up some bashing on a local e-mail group last year after asking what we needed to do to get more people to show up. And then we do a re-route or something and the people that won't help complain that we're making the trail too easy. Well, what do they expect? Come out and help and give your input/opinion on what you want the trails to be like. It's the same way with other trail users (most of our trails are multi-use), they complain about us but don't want to help fix things.

    Quote Originally Posted by formica
    although I'm beginning to think you can bribe them.
    Yes you can bribe them. We gave away some socks and tires and such at trail work days last year. In January we had a 2005 wrap-up party. We had a presentation with our IMBA Rep., we did a ride, came back and had free food and gave away prizes for the top volunteers. Speedgoat donated a wheelset for that. We also bribe them with food. We have a local rider who owns a bakery and he donates a box or 2 of goodies for every trail day.

  5. #5
    JmZ
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    Preach on!

    One of the things I always wonder about when I read the holier than thou posts that are in passion or general that say... it's not about the building man, it's about the ride! Do these guys help motive the reasonable people to volunteer? Do they realize how much of a selfish... that they come off as?

    There are far too few people who get involved and try to make a difference. I got involved because of a different 'activist' out of cali who pissed me off enough to get involved with the local trail group.

    Since then I've become more involved, not less. We've had a change of gaurd locally, but a core group that remains. With some recent activity we're getting questions from a bunch of the older members and we'll see what happens next.

    What little I've figured out so far is that food, and swag are good motivators, but the biggest motivators are promise and fear. Opening new trail, or the threat of closing a trail really seem to boost membership and voluneerism. If things are just 'flowing along' then get lots of griping, but not as many bodies on the trail.

    JmZ


    Quote Originally Posted by bitflogger
    Hi,

    I've been bashed and flamed and on and off-line for past posts to get people out to work days and it seems we all have the same problem. Anybody want to take their turn to do some cheer leading in the passion or general forums?

    For the sake of timing I was going to hold off until days before my next work day, but I think it's good to keep volunteering in front of people.

    I keep thinking about our recent time with a Department Of Natural Resources section chief who verified my assumptions about which user groups do the most for their sport, and his cel phone calls while in the woods were about ATV, horse and hiking. I know the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and those with money get things fixed.

    Let's all try to get more bodies out there!

    Thanks.
    JmZ

    From one flat land to another.

    Advocate as if your ride depends on it...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JmZ

    What little I've figured out so far is that food, and swag are good motivators, but the biggest motivators are promise and fear. Opening new trail, or the threat of closing a trail really seem to boost membership and voluneerism. If things are just 'flowing along' then get lots of griping, but not as many bodies on the trail.

    JmZ
    I'd agree that opening new trail is a hell of a way to motivate people. I have found that volunteers need to be a part of the process, but not the whole process. I live in an area that has 500,000 people - only if you draw a pretty big circle around our trails and include several towns in the area. Atlanta or San Fran has millions of people to draw from. What worked for us was getting money through the Rec Trail Program. A professional crew does the heavy lifting during the week and the volunteers come out on the weekends to pitch in. This creates all kinds of work that constantly can be done...no matter the weather. If it's wet, you clear corridor and if it's dry the vols can finish tread.

    Over time, the vols see the progress the crew is making and realize their part in it. Also, the crew comes back on Monday and is equally amazed by what the vols got accomplished over the weekend. For example, at the start of the month vols are clearing corridor in a section that may be 3 miles long and a few weeks later are out finishing the tread in the same section. With machines and crew working thru the week, a mile a week or more is possible. A month or so later, everyone is riding this loop that we all spent time building.

    Once you pick up steam, you can start to plant the idea in vols minds that the best thing they can do is bring a new person the next time. Get a broad based positive peer pressure thing going.

    Here is a list of all our volunteers on this project. We've opened 19 miles and have 5-6 more ready to open in about 2 weeks. And here's a video of a typical section.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoWyd_tUnBE

    FATS Aug 11, 2005-May 6, 2006

    Volunteer Days Hours
    1 Ray Shivley 24 100.5
    2 Russell Hale 22 89.75
    3 Paul Farrow 22 86
    4 Michael Drawdy 20 71.75
    5 Bryan Bigsby 18 71
    6 Barbara Drawdy 20 68.75
    7 Dale Parrott 16 65
    8 Trish Shively 15 60.5
    9 Marco White 14 58.25
    10 Chris Kennedy 14 55.25
    11 Frank Eichstaedt 9 50.5
    12 Daniel Allen 10 45.5
    13 Robert Fields 9 37
    14 Jon Taylor 8 33
    15 Scott Britt 8 31
    16 Susan Collins 7 26
    16 Angela Allen 6 26
    18 Sig Haynie 7 25
    18 Jason Neihaus 6 25
    20 Jim Culpepper 8 24.5
    20 Tom de Mange 6 24.5
    22 Bill Skipper 6 23.5
    23 Martin Meinshausen 6 23
    24 Robert Burton 5 22.5
    25 Alice Hale 5 20.5
    26 Matias Moreno 5 20
    26 Troy Willard 5 19.5
    28 John Liebe 5 19.5
    29 Lee White 4 18
    30 Melissa Merino 4 16
    31 Tiffany Shivley 3 14.5
    32 Eric Powell 3 14
    33 Tony Hawkins 3 13.5
    34 Steve Morone 3 12.5
    35 Shawn Smith 3 12
    36 Bruce McMurray 3 11.5
    37 Teresa Farrow 2 10.5
    38 Annett Drowlett 3 10
    39 Mark Benson 2 9.5
    40 Eric Stapleton 2 9
    41 Will Victor 2 8.75
    42 Trey Bowling 2 8.5
    42 Carl Hasenmeyer 2 8.5
    44 Danny Coleman 2 8
    44 David Chapman 2 8
    44 Joe Huff 2 8
    47 Cory Grant 2 7.5
    47 Eddie Nestell 2 7.5
    49 Michael Darr 2 7
    49 Richard Allewelt 2 7
    49 Jennifer Shivley 2 7
    52 Tom Teeters 2 6.5
    53 Leo Watts 2 6
    53 Lowell Dorn 2 6
    55 Denise Fairburn 2 5.5
    55 Lonnie Stewart 2 5.5
    55 Alan Burkett 1 5.5
    55 Brad Wender 1 5.5
    55 Brett Hannah 1 5.5
    55 Brooke Davis 1 5.5
    55 Bruce Dickman 1 5.5
    55 Claire Vecchio 1 5.5
    55 Colin Smith 1 5.5
    55 Dawn Parrott 1 5.5
    55 Dewey Yargin 1 5.5
    55 Don Bolt 1 5.5
    55 Fred Thomas 1 5.5
    55 Greg Webb 1 5.5
    55 Holly Baker 1 5.5
    55 Jacob Parrott 1 5.5
    55 Jacob Vecchio 1 5.5
    55 Jamie Smith 1 5.5
    55 Jay Aiken 1 5.5
    55 Jay Franklin 1 5.5
    55 Jeff Ronan 1 5.5
    55 Jeff Whitmire 1 5.5
    55 Jim Smith 1 5.5
    55 Joanne Burkett 1 5.5
    55 Jory Woods 1 5.5
    55 Joseph Polk 1 5.5
    55 Karen Haley 1 5.5
    55 Keith McFadden 1 5.5
    55 Keith Owen 1 5.5
    55 Mark Allmond 1 5.5
    55 Matthew Vecchio 1 5.5
    55 Milo Metcalf 1 5.5
    55 Neal Nichols 1 5.5
    55 Neil Wagner 1 5.5
    55 Paul Patrick 1 5.5
    55 Sarah Smith 1 5.5
    55 Scott Barrell 1 5.5
    55 Sean Ronan 1 5.5
    55 Tim Carlfeldt 1 5.5
    55 Tim Winters 1 5.5
    55 Tom Austin 1 5.5
    55 Travis Burns 1 5.5
    55 Trent Snyder 1 5.5
    55 Victoria Parrott 1 5.5
    55 Walt Bready 1 5.5
    100 Alex Wright 1 5
    101 Jason Parrott 1 4.5
    101 John Barnett 1 4.5
    101 Kevin Griffith 1 4.5
    101 Patrick Yonce 1 4.5
    101 Todd Erskine 1 4.5
    106 Bernard Barbour 1 4
    106 Bill Jackson 1 4
    106 Brian Preheim 1 4
    106 David Yavorsky 1 4
    106 Dee Doolittle 1 4
    106 Doug Hyde 1 4
    106 Drew Jordan 1 4
    106 Graham White 1 4
    106 Jeff Farley 1 4
    106 John Weekly 1 4
    106 Kevin Stich 1 4
    106 Kim Jordan 1 4
    106 Larry Diamond 1 4
    106 Matt Maynard 1 4
    106 Nevin Lambert 1 4
    106 Phil Cohen 1 4
    106 Phillip Roberson 1 4
    106 Rebecca Lambert 1 4
    106 Shereen Ferguson 1 4
    106 Stephanie Yavorsky 1 4
    106 Thomas Wood 1 4
    127 Charlie Mock 1 3.5
    127 Chris Robert 1 3.5
    127 Freddy Peterson 1 3.5
    127 Kaitlynn Autery 1 3.5
    127 Nate Zukas 1 3.5
    127 Rochelle Hollis 1 3.5
    127 Scott Berghen 1 3.5
    127 Shawn Brigdon 1 3.5
    127 Troy Eubanks 1 3.5
    136 Bergen Khare 1 3
    136 Bob Hope 1 3
    136 Cissy Fowler 1 3
    136 Henry Khare 1 3
    136 Jay Pittman 1 3
    136 John Black 1 3
    136 Mike Herbert 1 3
    136 Noelle Khare 1 3
    136 Sylvia Watts 1 3
    145 Rick Osbon 1 2.5
    146 Ed Nestell 1 2
    146 Joe Alderete 1 2
    146 Sunnie Alderete 1 2
    Total 465 1904.5

  7. #7
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    Yes, the bribe concept helps to some degree, but we have not had the same luck with schwag for volunteers this year.

    We are near Pacific Cycle's headquarters. Last year they did an awesome job of supplying good stuff - tires and shirts. This year they passed the hat and raised $600 to pay for an insurance policy. At least two of us felt we're not gong to beg for more work day schwag after they did something that is so very important and meaningful this year.

    The REI grant to the park and generosity from Pacific will rent and insure machinery at some point this summer. It will be a first for us and we hope it will accelerate the progress, but 18ish miles of trail in a rocky, heavily wooded up and down place with stream crossings will still require a lot of sweat and time.

    It looks like we all face people who gripe about lack of riding opportunities and gas prices that won't do much (or anything) to get great riding in their own back yard.

    Thanks.

  8. #8
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    Idea!

    Not knowing you personally, I'll just toss out a few observations and ideas.

    No offense, but you sound kind of burned out, kind of with "the glass is half empty" mindset. Look at what you've got: a company has picked up your liability insurance for the year, you've got an REI grant in the pipe, and permission to build 18 miles of trail across challenging terrain. That Rocks! Don't believe me? Here in California, in some state parks, we are looking at getting cycle access to existing trails and told it might be a 5 to 10 year political battle. 18 miles of new built trail? Not likely in my lifetime.

    I wouldn't hit up the company for more schwag this year, but next year will be a new story. But what about other bike shops in the region? What about the park itself? What about sporting goods or health food stores? Around here, State parks waives the entrance fee for volunteers on work days.

    Maybe you need a schwag coordinator. Me personally, I don't like asking for stuff. I'd make a lousy salesperson or telemarketer. Maybe that's not your strength either.

    Have someone else look at your work schedule and volunteer recruitment process with a critical eye. Maybe you need an outreach specialist. Maybe you aren't considering what other events are happening when you schedule trail days. Maybe your recruitment campaing needs an overhaul....

  9. #9

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    After ten years of doing trail work as a volunteer and as a paid supervisor, I'd say that many of the suggestions above are helpful but what seems to work best is money, in the form of government grants. Get to know your land managers and see how motivated they are. Do they really want to help solve problems and create new trails or do they see new trails as a way of creating more work for them to maintain. Seriously, many land managers see multi-use trails as a hassle.

    We celebrated National Trail Days a bit early this year. A week ago we had about 100 volunteers show up to build structures (grade dips) and do some light brush work on a couple trails. The work volunteers are doing is very good quality.

    After 2500 hours of trail work and 22,000 hours of crew hours supervised, I've come to the conclusion that with only volunteers and the FS trail crew, we are only able to complete 5-10% of the backlogged trail maintenance. The Forest Service and County Trail coordinator need to apply for more grant money to pay professional full-time crews to come in and complete the maintenance. Volunteers prefer new trail construction because of the excitement involved in opening a new trail. They are much less interested in repairing and restoring eroded trails. That's when you begin seeing a nice narrow singletrack trail gradually get wider and wider. When that rut appears down the middle of a trail, some riders will high-side to the left and others will choose a line to the right. Suddenly you have a 12-foot wide trail or a badly braided trail.

    Track down a local conservation corps that has experienced crew leaders and ask them what they charge for a crew and supervision. Ask the local land managers if they are applying for grants and make sure the two organizations sit down together and work out a schedule. A typical crew of eight people and a crew leader might cost $4700 a week. If they are experienced and there isn't a huge amount of rock work, they can cover a lot of ground. If there are structures already in place but they are failing because they have filled with sediment and are spilling water over them and on down the trail, the crews will only need to flush them out and not spend a lot of time constructing them. What this means is the paid crews can construct a lot of water diversion grade dips and in a couple years when they begin to fail, volunteers can come by and clean them out with a McCleod in a matter of minutes. Another option is an Adopt-A-Trail program that has individuals and businesses taking responsibility for maintaining sections of trail. They do light brush work and clean out grade dips and pick up trash and remove loose rocks and in exchange, they are acknowledged on a small sigh alongside the trail. For heavy work like removing blow-downs from the trail, they can simply report them to the land managers who can send a saw crew out to cut a section out of the tree to allow passage by trail users.

    But the quantity and quality of the work will really increase if you can secure funding to pay a professional crew. Even if you don't have one nearby, many are prepared to travel long distances and camp out for weeks at a time to complete contracted work. Our local crews work throughout the southwest and as far north as the Grand Tetons and east to Big Bend National Park. Some crews specialize in rock work like steps and walls for places like The Grand Canyon, while others do basic trail construction and maintenance.

    As someone mentioned above, when local volunteers see that a paid crew is doing the really hard work, they don't feel too put out spending a few days a month jumping in and doing their part. They learn quickly from the experienced crews and soon are experts themselves. It's amazing how quickly you can expand a trail system and create new and challenging routes. The biggest hang-up is finding motivated land managers who will expedite the NEPA process and secure funding, which is surprisingly available.

    Back in the late 90's I wanted to build the first mountain bike trail at our county park. I was training conservation corps members to use chainsaws in upcoming thinning projects. I got a bit bored and began going for walks in the woods. Then after work I'd go running through the woods trying to locate the boundaries of the park. Then I kept doing that for a couple weeks until I found the best route to construct a new trail system. I put up some flagging and walked the course with the head of county recreation. He was no biker so I sold him the idea as a possible cross-country ski course. He liked that idea and gave me the go ahead. My crews were totally funded through an Americorps grant so all I asked for was $300 for some loppers and some other tools. We had a lot of Mexican locust to remove. By summers end we had constructed a five mile loop trail that was used for the State Championship mountain bike course and is often used for running races. We built it for $300! The following year we added a new more technical trail that bisects the original loop trail. We actually bagan the work on these trails less than 24 hours after I got the go ahead from the county. Because they are not federal land, we did not have to go through the very time-consuming environmental studies of NEPA. Now the system is being expanded even further onto Forest Service land. This has taken five years to accomplish but it will add several more miles to the system and additional variety and challenges to riders of all levels.

    I wish you all a lot of luck and success with your local trail projects. Stay positive and find others who are equally motivated. Then find out who has money to fund your work.

  10. #10
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    I have already logged a considerable number of hours of volunteer time so far this season. Yeah it's a pain when I'm the only one out there, and I work for hours on end and only have a few miles of raking and blowdown removal, or a small section of rockwork or retaining wall to show for more than 1/2 day's labor. But what's cool is that whenever I ride that trail I get the satisfaction of riding my own work. I also work professionally in the trails industry, and there are times that I'm glad to be doing work by myself, bcs then I can throw a rock project together without having a democratic kibbitzing session on the placement of each and every rock. When you work with voluteers or a board of directors this is usually not the case. Mainly I do it because each day I go out I accomplish something, and after doing it there is an enduring visible record of what I have done, which is not often the case with other life or work struggles.

    Yeah I'm getting way existential on this, but any time you put a considerable amount of time and effort into anything, you need to occasionally stop and ask yourself a few questions, like "who am I really doing this for?" and "Is this making me happy?" It may indeed be true that if you stopped offering your time and experience to the trails that you have adopted that the work might not be done as well as it is now, or at least not to your high standards, but once people assume the identity of a martyr in any situation, it is also easy to look down on those who do not have the time or energy or need to similarly martyr themselves. Setting achievable goals and a realistic timeline for projects, especially when you don't have a lot of people to help with the work, will help ease the feeling that you are fighting a losing battle.

    Finally, in the words of Ben & Jerry (albeit now Unilever), "If it's not fun, why do it?" If you're not having fun doing your trail projects, maybe you should take a break and get out on your bike for a while. If you are bitter & cynical while you are working out there with others or trying to motivate volunteers to join you, they are going to pick up on that negativity and not really be all that psyched to join the "party".

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