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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Okay...

sick4surf said:
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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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah but...

sick4surf said:
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.
 

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Ken in KC said:
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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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My experience....

JmZ said:
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.
 

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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.
 

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Ken in KC said:
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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Ken in KC said:
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
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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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

Ken in KC said:
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.
 

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Ken in KC said:
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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Sweet...

willie b said:
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.
 

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I may assume too much...

Ken in KC said:
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...
 

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Francis Buxton said:
"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.
 

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Francis Buxton said:
"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."
Shelbak73 said:
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
 
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