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Goin’ Grassroots

Wow. What a weekend in Santa Cruz. Where do I start?

As usual, we began at the grassroots. We also unveiled a new presentation dedicated to the subject. During the debut, we focused on being politically savvy and building the necessary relationships that help clubs get what they want.

Our host club, Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, wanted to expand their existing advocacy toolkit. They’ve mastered social development, put on some killer events, and can do trail maintenance like nobody’s business. During our visit we dove into the details of being more active in the political realm.

Recently, with the help of our Government Affairs department, the TCC team put together a primer for effective grassroots advocacy. Admittedly, we tend to avoid the subject of politics in our everyday lives, but in the IMBA world of ‘protecting, creating, and enhancing great trail experiences worldwide’, it’s absolutely necessary. The timing of our new presentation was perfect for Santa Cruz.

On Thursday night, with some of the core club members, we navigated best practices, discussed effective methods, and came away with some new confidence to tackle local issues. Instead of bombarding you with the details, we’ll stick to the highlights of the presentation:

Goals – Does your club want new trails? Is your group trying to avoid closure of existing trails? Does the community want to build a bike park? Establish the objective first.

Do Your Homework – Determine who owns the land and who makes the decisions. Also, figure out the people (as in elected officials, legislators, etc) who support your cause. Then, learn the lingo. If you can speak their language the relationship can flourish.

Target Meeting – This is where the ‘ask’ happens. Remember to develop a rapport before making the request.

Know Your ‘P’s - Effective advocates are not emotionally charged radicals.

• Prepared – Knows the details

• Professional – Sticks to the facts, avoids emotion, looks sharp

• Precise – Concise message, clear delivery

• Patient – Slow and steady wins the race

• Persistent – Consistent with contacts, consistent with the message

Just like it began, the weekend ended with the grassroots. This time we’re talking a little more literal. After watching the rain pour down for two days straight, the skies magically dried up on Saturday at noon, just in time to head out for some trail maintenance at Wilder Ranch State Park. Before the group put tools in the ground, they first put some of their new found political knowledge into practice. They did so by taking the time to thank the local land managers in attendance for having access to the trails.

It was a great step in the direction of a having long and positive relationship.

HUGE THANKS to Shannon, Drew, Mark, and the rest of MBOSC for planning and executing a fantastic TCC weekend in Santa Cruz. Wow.

Thanks to everyone who sponsored the weekend: Mick’s Automotive, Bell/ Blackburn, Specialized, Epicenter, Ibis, and Caletti. Thanks to everyone who attended Better Living Through Trails on Friday and coming to find out about the value of community trail systems. Thanks to everyone who attended the trailbuilding school and field session on Saturday. The weather gods shined on us for sure…

Photos can be found here.

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Thanks Leslie and Chris - you

Thanks Leslie and Chris - you guys are fantastic. It was fun and informative. I'm looking forward to getting out and working on trails again. -John @ Caletti Cycles