An observation


July 29, 2013, 01:06 PM

Since there seems to be an active push to stir things up I'll take an opportunity to poke at the nest a bit.

Something has changed in the club over the last several years that I think has contributed, at least somewhat, to a slump in active membership. Maybe it happened around the the creation of the board, but there has been a trend towards segregating information and decisions away from the general population of the club. It's likely that this has not been a an intentional change, perhaps it is a reaction to higher attendance at meetings that made them an exercise in cat herding, or an offshoot of generally becoming more organized, but despite there being a great flow of information in the forum these days, I've never felt quite as disconnected from the 'official' happenings in the club. I've heard mention of a hidden section of the forum that only some members have access to, board meetings behind closed doors, and meeting minutes are either not published or are hard to find.

Folks, it's a mountain bike club, it's unlikely that there are any secrets here. I get that it's tough to stay productive and organized with lots of random input but implementing too many controls has a cost as well.

And honestly, from the outside, it seems like things have been going great; trails are getting longer and staying maintained, new features appear, the WORS race brings in money, there are huge turn outs at some of the work days, etc... and the only crisis (again, from the outside) seems to be that we can't build new trails fast enough and now there's some sort of reorganization on the board happening.

I'll stop short of a dissertation on the matter, but my opinion is that with less of the club operation happening in the public eye then the casual members tend to feel that 'someone is taking care of it'.

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« Last Edit: July 29, 2013, 01:21 PM by Rich »

XXX
imwjl
Pleasant View Trail Steward

July 29, 2013, 01:41 PM

Since there seems to be an active push to stir things up I'll take an opportunity to poke at the nest a bit.

Something has changed in the club over the last several years that I think has contributed, at least somewhat, to a slump in active membership. Maybe it happened around the the creation of the board, but there has been a trend towards segregating information and decisions away from the general population of the club. It's likely that this has not been a an intentional change, perhaps it is a reaction to higher attendance at meetings that made them an exercise in cat herding, or an offshoot of generally becoming more organized, but despite there being a great flow of information in the forum these days, I've never felt quite as disconnected from the 'official' happenings in the club. I've heard mention of a hidden section of the forum that only some members have access to, board meetings behind closed doors, and meeting minutes are either not published or are hard to find.

Folks, it's a mountain bike club, it's unlikely that there are any secrets here. I get that it's tough to stay productive and organized with lots of random input but implementing too many controls has a cost as well.

And honestly, from the outside, it seems like things have been going great; trails are getting longer and staying maintained, new features appear, the WORS race brings in money, there are huge turn outs at some of the work days, etc... and the only crisis (again, from the outside) seems to be that we can't build new trails fast enough and now there's some sort of reorganization on the board happening.

I'll stop short of a dissertation on the matter, but my opinion is that with less of the club operation happening in the public eye then the casual members tend to feel that 'someone is taking care of it'.

Organization was required to have the same status that has allowed us to be insured, seek funding, grants, use and rent machines as well as a longer list.

Meetings are public, same for the bylaws.

I do miss some of the days when we hacked at a few small patches of dirt and solved all the world's problems after a few beers but also like other things we've achieved.

The board and trail stewards have a private web-based project management application and associated discussion forum that really helps those who give a lot of time. It's not unlike a lot of work places, and really needed when all you're trying to do is make fun places to ride but are saddled with fund raising, fiance, insurance, regulations, planning and other tasks.

I've asked people to lead the party and hope they step up, but also hope they step up in the right places. We have Fitchburg, Middleton and Dane County investing much and need to get those jobs done.

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XXX
TheMayor1
Trail Steward - CamRock
Trail Steward
608-772-7833

July 29, 2013, 02:37 PM

A good observation I believe Rich. I have expressed the same sentiments. The Board actually had this discussion recently. As any growing organization we go in fits and starts. A good problem to have versus the opposite.

I think you are correct, and I know it is unintentional. With a Board of Directors section of the Forum. And also Basecamp for organizing, it is really easy to have lots of discussions that the general public never sees. Some is necessary, some is not, and prolly the large majority of it is unintentional.

We may start a discussion on an official part of business. Then the conversation moves to something more club related. And without realizing it only the Board is discussing things that really concern and should have input from everyone. Then of course we wonder why more folks are not getting involved. I know I for one just reply to posts and only occasionally look to see of they are public or not.

I think it is just something we need to try and be cognizant of when doing posts. This could make a good discussion point tonight at the meeting.


~ Chuck Hutchens


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XXX

July 29, 2013, 04:09 PM

Although I don't know what happens there, I find it hard to believe that there would be much harm in including the public on the majority of what happens in the tucked away sections of the forum, maybe the discussions aren't as interesting as the 'deals' on craigslist, but it would give a glimpse into all the work it really takes to keep things running.  I would argue that most everything should be open by default and then only move to a private area when it really makes sense to keep something hidden.

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XXX

July 29, 2013, 04:15 PM

Two things come to mind.

1. Yes, the private forum does come in handy. 

2. I feel strongly that we need to go back to our regular scheduled monthly meetings like we used to have.  I think people really did look forward to coming each month and hearing about what was happening with the club.


~ I like beer and men


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XXX
imwjl
Pleasant View Trail Steward

July 29, 2013, 04:33 PM

Two things come to mind.

1. Yes, the private forum does come in handy. 

2. I feel strongly that we need to go back to our regular scheduled monthly meetings like we used to have.  I think people really did look forward to coming each month and hearing about what was happening with the club.

I'm guessing the admin forum would have a fraction of the content if we met once a month, and I liked the monthly meetings. The web and phone collaboration doesn't always work so well for everybody. Some have jobs where that's every day life and others are not so used to it.

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XXX

July 29, 2013, 06:42 PM

Two things come to mind.

1. Yes, the private forum does come in handy. 

2. I feel strongly that we need to go back to our regular scheduled monthly meetings like we used to have.  I think people really did look forward to coming each month and hearing about what was happening with the club.

Very good point about the monthly meetings.  I found most of my riding partners through the meetings, I might know a handful of guys from the club now.  Meetings for me were easier to get into a routine of when held each month.


~ Burn rubber


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XXX

July 30, 2013, 12:18 PM

Meetings for me were easier to get into a routine of when held each month.

+1

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XXX

August 05, 2013, 01:41 PM

And honestly, from the outside, it seems like things have been going great; trails are getting longer and staying maintained, new features appear, the WORS race brings in money, there are huge turn outs at some of the work days, etc.

I'm obviously new to the club, but I have to say that this definitely resonated with me. From where I stand I pay my dues each year and show up to work days when I can. Beyond that I assumed I'd find out about club happenings and work through the forum. I just figured all was well and good until there was a post about a crisis. I'm sure there are roles between club leadership and what I'm doing now, but it's not obvious from my perspective where that is.

+1 more for a standing monthly meeting

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XXX
TheMayor1
Trail Steward - CamRock
Trail Steward
608-772-7833

August 06, 2013, 09:02 AM

And honestly, from the outside, it seems like things have been going great; trails are getting longer and staying maintained, new features appear, the WORS race brings in money, there are huge turn outs at some of the work days, etc.

I'm obviously new to the club, but I have to say that this definitely resonated with me. From where I stand I pay my dues each year and show up to work days when I can. Beyond that I assumed I'd find out about club happenings and work through the forum. I just figured all was well and good until there was a post about a crisis. I'm sure there are roles between club leadership and what I'm doing now, but it's not obvious from my perspective where that is.

+1 more for a standing monthly meeting
Great feedback for the club leadership. Thanks!


~ Chuck Hutchens


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