Friday, October 19, 2007

IMBA Club Care Session

On Oct 18th the IMBA Trail Care Crew hosted a club care session at Giro/Bell Sports in Santa Cruz. The focus of the meeting was to revitalize the local club (mbosc) but most of the attendees wanted to hear about the new opportunities in Santa Cruz County. The meeting was well attended by high profile people in the local mountain bike community. Some of the attendees included Mike Ferentino from Santa Cruz Bikes, Jesse Nickell from Barry Swenson Builder, a few employees of Fox Racing Shox, some local bike shop owners and the core MBOSC Lieutenants. MBOSC provided beer and snacks.

There was a short presentation on the potential of mountain biking and events at Coast Dairies and then the Ryan and Kristin from the Trail Care Crew did a presentation on building sustainable clubs. The presentation was valuable and we definitely learned a lot about how to build and run a sustainable club. One of the most interesting parts was the identification of the 3 distinct roles of the club: Political, Physical and Social. The political includes advocacy and outreach work. Physical is represented as trail work which builds political capital in the form of sweat equity. Finally, the social component include events and is the means at which new people join the club and feel the connectedness of the community.

Ryan and Kristin also presented a model for sustainable volunteer organizations. At the top, you must have a board of directors who set the direction of the club, help raise funds and has outside contacts in the community. Followed next is an executive level overseen by the board and includes President, Secretary, Treasurer and other roles. Finally, there are committees which represents small working groups of people with common interests within the club. The committees are where the real work for the club is done. They do all the planning, brainstorming and create task (or "wish") lists. The wish lists seems to be a key component for maintaining the sustainability of the club which are published on the web site and mailing lists. The idea is that members can look at the wish lists and accomplish a task that is within their interest, energy and commitment level. The idea is that this will broaden participation beyond the "core group". Wish lists provide the means for which the membership can contribute to the success of the club without having to take on a permanent role or a large open ended commitment. This type of organizational structure is not new but it does seem like an effective way to organize a volunteer non-profit group.

After the presentation, the Ryan and Kristin handed out index cards in which each participant listed his top 3 priorities. The cool thing is that most of the people in the room were united in the fact that there is a desire for more legal single track. The idea of a jump park/freeride/pump track type experiences in Santa Cruz scored really high. Surprisingly, the desire for more family and kid friendly places for kids to ride scored high but event venues were not so prominent. This survey was not scientific and just reflected the goals of the people in the room.

Many of the people who came to the meeting wanted to hear about South Park rather than hear how to rebuild mbosc. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of news on that front. I seriously doubt that South Park is going to happen. Perhaps I'll blog about the reasons in a separate post.

In any case, the Club Care Session at Bell Sports was very informative and inspiring. We will be applying most of these core principles to mbosc to transform us into a more sustainable organization. We're starting from the top and will be remaking our board of directors.

More on this later as we make progress...

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