Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance’

Right Rider for the Job: Tribute to Jon Kennedy

In Bicycle advocacy on February 25, 2010 at 10:41 am

Jon Kennedy getting it done on the trail as well as off

When he became acting executive director of Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance last fall, Jon Kennedy inherited an organization that had lost its balance and was heading for a tumble. As it turned out, Kennedy was the right guy for the job. Anyone who has watched Jon guide a bike on a skinny or over a drop can see he knows how to regain balance and ride a tricky section out. That’s what he did for Evergreen.

Last week Evergreen announced that Kennedy is leaving. On Mar. 1 he will take over as marketing manager for the resurgent Diamondback Bicycles conglomerate (with Raleigh) based in Kent. Ironically the commute from his West Seattle home will be about the same as it was to Evergreen HQ at north Green Lake in Seattle. Which is fortunate, because Jon expects to maintain close ties to the club he helped guide back from the brink.

“I love Evergreen, I love the organization, the people and the agenda,” Jon said by phone after the announcement. Any rumor mill suggestions that he is leaving out of disenchantment would be “absolutely wrong,” he added.

Jon was recruited by Diamondback after working with its brand manager, Mike Brown, on Evergreen sponsorships that resulted in a bike giveaway and $2,500 commitment to the club. The compensation package offered by Diamondback, which is seeking to re-establish itself as a leading name in mountain biking, was too good to pass up.

At 35, “I have my family to think about,” said Jon — wife Ilana, son Erez, 3, and daughter Lilah, 18 months. Anyone who has worked for a non-profit understands that it’s typically not a career but a stepping stone. Despite Jon’s short tenure, it probably seemed more like an entire staircase — but it’s to his credit that so much got done to carry Evergreen forward.

It was Jon’s work with Evergreen that impressed Diamondback. “His energy and dedication, combined with his organizational skills, will be a big plus for us,” Brown said.

A cornerstone of Diamondback’s marketing agenda is working with local, active leadership groups like Evergreen to build and maintain trails. “It’s called ‘Places to Ride’,” Brown noted — a seemingly obvious mission for bike-related companies everywhere, but one which often isn’t acted upon.

Kudos to Diamondback for recognizing a golden opportunity. “We’re in a very competitive space. so getting our message to riders can be a real challenge.” Brown acknowledged, referencing Diamondback’s long-travel Mission, XC Sortie and expanding dirt jump lines. (For drool factor, check out the limited edition Scapegoat.) Key liaisons like Jon and Evergreen and the base they bring along do word-of-mouth wonders.

With Jon at the helm, Evergreen helped get marquee projects on track, from Duthie Hill to South Fork Snoqualmie to Black Diamond. Colonnade got much-deserved attention. New sponsorships rolled in, including Gregg’s, Home Depot and Black Diamond. And Evergreen’s name was prominent in events like the Feb. 5 premiere of “Women of Dirt,” a cinematic look at mountain biking femmes.

A number of the goals outlined at the Duthie Hill gathering last fall are being addressed, including balancing the club’s twin missions of advocacy and recreation. Although the 2010 season is still a couple of months away, the ride calendar seems on the way back to health. And the mtb scene is popping locally — with Evergreen’s involvement every step of the way.

To be sure, challenges loom. First will be finding a replacement for Jon — he says not to worry, several well-qualified folks are in the hopper. Then there’s at least one goal mentioned at the gathering that hasn’t seen much traction — to wit, spreading Evergreen responsibilities across more than one set of shoulders.

Evergreen’s board needs to move a bit faster to address the org’s needs. Despite his yeoman service, Jon never officially had “acting” dropped from his title. It’s on the board to get his replacement named summarily (Glenn Glover has been appointed interim) and take action on other leadership issues.

In a non-profit, Jon joked, “there’s only one way to find out how much you’re appreciated — and that’s to quit.” He’s been “blown away” by the surge of well-wishes and expressions of gratitude. He may be moving on, but not away.

“Diamondback is tremendously committed to local advocacy, so I expect to stay involved with Evergreen,” Jon says, adding that Evergreen is like the Hotel California. You can check out any time you want, but you never get to leave.

Evergreen’s announcement.

Jon’s departing letter to Evergreen.

News Cycle: EMBA’s new ED, Pivot’s new TM, If John Cook only had a brain & more

In News Cycle on February 24, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance has named Glenn Glover interim executive director, following the departure (as of Mar. 1) of Jon Kennedy for Diamondback Bikes. We’ve sat in on board meetings with Glenn and done trail work with him and feel he’s a great fit. Congratulations to him and best wishes moving the organization forward.

Pivot Cycles has signed the reigning 24-hour-race world champion, Jason English, to its team for 2010. English, an Aussie, rides a Mach 4 that tilts the scales at under 22 lbs. We want that build!

“I don’t believe a bicycle is a transportation device,” stated Fairfax (VA) County Supervisor John Cook. Which might carry some weight except that John Cook’s brain is not a cognition device. (See comments queue.)

Great (reprinted) interview with someone whose brain is firing on all cylinders, mountain biking founding father Charlie Kelly.

And Ned Overend is profiled in the Durango Herald. A seldom noted fact about Nedly: His name is the most perfect mountain biking anagram ever! (That’s right…end over end.)

Awesome Land “Women of Dirt” Premiere Countdown

In Mountain Biking, Videos on January 28, 2010 at 7:32 am

Its co-filmmaker calls “Women of Dirt,” which premieres a week from tomorrow, an “experiential lifestyle film” packed with “levity” and “fun.” But it’s not just a film “for and about women,” whether on bikes or off. Instead, says Mark Brent, previewers have been unanimous that the movie has “huge crossover appeal” for any audience — meaning the riding, the relationships and the story take it beyond the usual backflips-and-beer ethos of conventional freeride DVDs.

“Women bring a different aspect to the sport,” Brent said. Their riding has a subtlety and grace to it that “We can all identify with better,” Brent said. “It’s super flowy and style-y.”

We were instantly drawn to Brent’s and co-filmmaker Miles Sullivan’s project by the presence of Seattle native Jill Kintner, whose 2009 season ranked among the best of any mountain biker, male or female. Kintner is featured riding last summer’s Whistler Crankworx (where she won two titles and runner-upped a third), the nationals (she took first) and — get this — the Woodland Park jumps, within shouting distance of our Phinney Ridge home. Modest and understated, Kintner hasn’t gotten her due. Perhaps the movie will remedy that.

Unfortunately, Jill (and most of the pro cycling world) is in Australia, where it’s summertime, training for the 2010 season — which means she can’t be at Northwest Film Forum for the movie’s worldwide premiere Feb. 5 (tickets here). But Katrina Strand, Stephanie Nychka, Cierra Smith, Tammy Donahugh and Leana Gerrard will be in Seattle (be sure to read Martha Hucker’s interview of Leana) for the premiere and Lisa Myklak, Emily Johnston, and Tammy Donahugh in Santa Cruz for the California premiere Feb. 28. The Cali hosts, Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, are making the showing part of a gala two-day festival, including an open ride at Soquel Demo Forest and jump jam sponsored by Epicenter Cycling in Aptos.

At the Seattle premiere Diamondback Bicycles will give away a 2010 Mission 1. And 10 percent of net proceeds from Seattle showings will go to benefit the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, which is doing superlative work to support freeride parks in the region.

Brent says that, after two decades of mostly male mtb films, there’s a lot of pent-up demand for a film featuring women riders. He got the idea for “Women of Dirt” in part from talking with Joy Mutoli, who noticed after race weekends that the guy footage on PinkBike would get a few dozen views while the fem footage shot the needle up to 500 or more.

The “Women of Dirt” teaser has gotten more than 50,000 views. And the film’s Facebook fan page has nearly 1,500 members.

“People have told us, ‘Wow, we didn’t know this story existed’,” Brent said. “They’re blown away by the beauty and courage and comradery of the riders.”

In addition to NWFF’s run and the Santa Cruz premiere, “Women of Dirt” will be hosted by Mudd Bunnies in Vancouver, B.C. And Brent is working with groups and clubs in a variety of locales, including Bellingham, to get the film before local audiences.

“We’re encouraging anyone with a group of any size to host a showing,” he said. (It’s called marketing in the age of the Internet.)

DVDs will go on sale officially the day of the premiere but may be available online earlier, Brent said. Fans also will be able to buy the film directly from the producers at the BonesOverMetal web site. And discs are sure to make their way into select bike shops.

“I hope this opens up the opportunity for a full-length feature documentary,” Brent said. Perhaps something on the women’s World Cup circuit — something along the lines of Clay Porter’s annual series (“F1rst,” “Between the Tape,” “Tipping Point”). In any case, “Women of Dirt” is long overdue as a tribute to women opening the sport and zeitgeist of freeriding to a whole new generation of riders. For an example, be sure to check out Walter Yi’s video link below of Kat Sweet out at Duthie — one of the places where Evergreen is making such a difference.

Kat Sweet edit from Walter Yi on Vimeo.

Bike Intelligencer Ride Classics: Pot Peak — Not what you might be thinking

In Mountain Bike Trail Reviews, Mountain Biking, Multi-Day Trips on January 3, 2010 at 10:33 am

In which our intrepid duo climbs the world’s longest, most boring fire road, traverses the Talus Field From Hell, and finishes in complete darkness, riding by Braille. Was this fun or what?! This btw concludes our holiday “classics” series. Happy 2010, ride safe out there!

Still basking in Sun Valley’s halo, Jim Lyon and I headed off for another multi-day adventure, this time in the Washington high country. Neither of us had ever done the Devils Backbone-Pot Peak epic, so we pointed Moby Dick toward Chelan and cruised on over. Before leaving I did a search on my BBTC [Note: Now Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance] database, dating back to the late 1990s, for tips on the ride. I was surprised to find almost no references. Jeff Mack did a partial stab last year, but this obviously is not among the club’s more popular excursions.

We got what I thought was an early start, but it took us four and a half hours to get to the Snowberry campground and mount our bikes. It was a late start, but Zilly puts the ride at between 6 and 10 hours. As long as we were on the short side, we’d finish before dark.

[Before I go further, I’d like to thank all the BBTC (Now Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance) folks who responded to my wife’s plaintive pleas for information by phone and e-mail. I have a pact with Cecile: I can pretty much go anywhere as long as I report back in after the ride. Not all post-ride environments offer cell or phone service, however, in which case Itry to remember to alert her that I won’t be able to follow the drill. In this instance, I dropped the ball. I didn’t realize how far from anything civilized we would be.

When it got late and Cecile still hadn’t heard from me, she went to code orange. I have the BBTC Web site and Yahoo! address on our bulletin board for her to check in an emergency. She started clicking away and soon had talked to half a dozen or more regulars, who thankfully reassured her that Jim and I were probably OK. Art was most helpful, telling Cecile that Jim and I had "done a lot more dangerous rides than Devils Backbone." While this led afterwards to cross examination worthy of a John Grisham novel, it was definitely the right thing to say at the time. I should apologize for any inconvenience to club members – since obviously we’re both fine – but by the same token am encouraged that the unintentional triggering of the system worked so well. Talk about having our back! You can't do better than the BBTC.]

The big loop begins with a long, 13-mile fire-road climb of around 4,000 feet elevation gain. That’s right, 13 miles of dirt road. Zilly suggests at least a partial shuttle, but as regular readers of these missives know I hate shuttles. Although on the long side, the ride up seemed innocuous enough on the map, and fire roads by nature aren’t all that challenging. By mile seven, however, I was beginning to question the wisdom of the long slog. Unlike most fire roads, this one had virtually no level, or “rest,” sections. It was unrelentingly up. Not steep, really, just unremitting. Think five continuous rides up Tiger and you have an idea (except that Tiger, like most normal fire roads, does provide some respite sections). [Note: What were we THINKING??]

- Keep reading…>

Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance: Issues and bikes get full airing at Duthie

In Bicycle advocacy, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes, Trail Access, Videos on September 2, 2009 at 11:26 am
Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance members gather at Duthie HIll clearing

Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance members gather at Duthie HIll clearing

The good, the bad and the better all got plenty of air time last night at perhaps the biggest communal gathering ever of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance at Duthie Hill, which by the way is coming along nicely as a miniature Whistler mountain bike park in the Issaquah highlands.

Upwards of 100 folks turned out to ride the loops, the logs and the structures, then talk about where Evergreen is headed as an organization. Aiming for greater professionalism and an advocacy seat at the table of recreational parks, forest and urban planning in the Puget Sound region, Evergreen found itself being second-guessed by longtime members used to a less formalized and more social agenda. Yesterday’s “Town Hall” was an attempt to clear the air a bit and set goals for the alliance’s future direction.

After opening remarks by Jon Kennedy, program and communications director, and Jennifer Lesher, president, the gathering broke “World Cafe” style into groups of seven to 10 persons for discussion. Each group had a leader with a broadsheet to document what the alliance is doing right, what it’s doing wrong, and how it could improve.

Jon Kennedy and Jennifer Lesher welcoming everyone

Jon Kennedy and Jennifer Lesher welcoming everyone

Although barbecues wafted tantalizing scents across the park clearing, no eating was allowed until the rap sessions closed some 30 to 45 minutes later.

My group, which included a former board member and some well-known veterans from Backcountry Bicycle Trails Club days (the Alliance’s previous name), came up with a host of talking points, including the under I-5 Colonnade skillz park, the save-Kettle Crest movement, communication gaps, fiduciary question-marks, fundraising opportunities, volunteerism and Jon Kennedy’s broken chain. Yes, it’s true. Kennedy snapped his big-hit bike’s chain right before he was headed for a monster huck off one of the new structures…but that’s another story (he did get it fixed in time to throw down some cool moves on the freeride section, see video. Note: Jon, who’s pretty stylin’ on the extreme stuff, later did the full run, I just didn’t catch it on the iPhone. Further note: Click here to see full-screen of video).

Basically our group put in a pitch for more balance. There’s a sense the Alliance may be weighted toward in-close, bike park style development at the expense of wilderness and high-country access (Justin’s presentation referenced below may help mitigate this one). There’s a sense established members avoid posting on the ride calendar (“maybe rides have gotten too popular,” one of our group said), and that newcomers or slower riders feel somewhat intimidated to sign up for rides that are posted. There’s also the feeling volunteers could be used far better, and that mechanisms need to be set up for better use of members’ talents and interests.

On the kudos side, the Alliance’s reputation-building, media visibility, agency outreach and Web site got props for making a mark in the region (some people felt the Web site could be more welcoming to newcomers).

We were supposed to re-gather in plenary to go over the main themes, but it was getting dark and people’s stomachs were growling and if the leadership had made us talk any more another theme would have arisen along the lines of cannibalism, so we’ll have to wait for further reports back.

Kennedy did circulate a detailed action plan for the Alliance, outlining advocacy, planning and fundraising goals. And Justin Vander Pol added an inspiring update on the South Fork Snoqualmie project above I-90 that will create classic high-country singletrack with spectacular panoramic views an hour’s drive from Seattle. Work has commenced on the project, which has funding and agency commitment for completion.

All this, and the food was a cut above as well (thanks to whoever thought to bring veggie burgers for us non-carnivores). More to come, but for now the word is to get on out to Duthie and see what’s transpiring at the hands of Mike Westra and the gang.

Evergreen Alliance calls for the question

In Bicycle advocacy, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes, Trail Access on August 27, 2009 at 7:59 am

The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, in the midst of member turmoil and a leadership shakeup, has reached out to followers to submit questions and raise concerns before next Tuesday’s Town Hall summit at 6 p.m. at Duthie Hill Lodge. Contact information is on the Evergreen Web site.

“We’ve received a great deal of input already, but I’d like to distill this into the core issues and be sure to cover them next Tuesday,” wrote board member Scott Edison in an e-mail to key Evergreen stakeholders.

Edison also noted there will be a ride at Duthie, where considerable trail work has been done recently, as well as a barbecue with food provided (people should bring their own beverages).

Edison noted the alliance already has received “a great deal of input,” including postings on the Yahoo! e-mail list as well as privately circulated group e-mails. Issues raised concern leadership, communication and advocacy, particularly on the wilderness front.

Some key points still to be addressed include:

Will John Lang, whose unexpected resignation takes effect on Tuesday, be replaced? As executive director, Lang oversaw progress on several fronts, particularly in reaching out to other trail groups and agencies. But paid talent comes at some expense, and the alliance is facing considerable financial challenges by the end of the year.

If Lang is replaced, how much will the membership be informed of the process and be able to provide input into the selection? Lang’s appointment in the spring of 2008 came as a surprise to the rank and file, in part because he was unknown in the mountain biking community. Whatever expertise and connections he brought to the job were overshadowed by questions over how much personal investment he had in the sport.

Fundraising: A crash fundraising appeal to members brought in $37,000 recently, but despite belt-tightening, finances remain a concern. Several ideas for fundraisers along the lines of organized rides and events have been suggested by members.

Communication: It’s been suggested that alliance leadership participate more in the Yahoo list and be more aggressive in inviting members to participate in decision-making, including attendance at board meetings. Interactive features on the Web site also could be a plus.

A new forum, GotSingletrack.com, has been started by Evergreen regulars Tim Banning and Erik Alston. Although not specifically an alliance endeavor, the forum addresses mountain biking issues and could play a strategic role in airing issues to a wider public.

The forum software also enables threaded discussions and archiving by topic as well as other features not possible in a Yahoo group.

Finally, what to do about alienated long-time members remains a pressing concern for the alliance. Several active and well-known BBTC icons have said they feel excluded and unwanted by club leadership. Drawing their expertise, networking capabilities, rolodex and popularity back into the mix has been raised as a key initiative facing the alliance.

A review of other issues in our report of July’s tumultuous board meeting.

Change is afoot, er, apedal, at Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance

In Bicycle advocacy, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes, Trail Access on August 15, 2009 at 4:30 pm

The Puget Sound region’s leading mountain bike club, the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, is undergoing some Obama-like “change you can believe in” as a result of membership turmoil we reported on last month.

The latest shocker: Executive director John Lang is resigning as of Sept. 1. Lang’s arrival in the spring of 2008 marked a sharp change of direction for the organization then known as the Backcountry Bicycle Trails Club. Lang put a stamp of professionalism on the club, liaisoning it with other user groups and forest administrative agencies while also shepherding mtb projects like Colonnade (a huge publicity win for the club), Paradise Valley and Duthie Hill.

Announcing Lang’s departure with “great regret,” Evergreen president Jennifer Lesher noted that during his tenure “We have attained a seat on the Washington DNR’s Sustainability Work Group and an appointment to the Snoqualmie Unit Advisory Committee. We have worked with the Mountains to Sound Greenway, State Parks, and Snohomish County, Kent, and Redmond. John’s leadership and hard work were key in establishing these positions.”

But Lang is not a mountain biker, a factor that led him to become a lightning rod for discontent over club policies starting with the surprise name change (which was under way before he took office). He also failed to communicate with the membership, which saw him as detached and aloof, even as his political acumen made measurable progress with previously antagonistic or uncooperative sectors.

We at BikeIntelligencer believe Lang was making the right moves, but without buy-ins from the membership. A better communicator would have explained what he was up to and done the political spade work to create ownership at the member level.

Since July’s board meeting, Lesher and Jon Kennedy, program director, have been actively seeking input on the club’s future direction, meeting and speaking with a number of longtime members. Jen’s take in an e-mail posted on Evergreen’s Yahoo! list:

“The Board of Directors is working to devise a plan for the immediate and
long term future of the organization. We have some critical decisions to
make about how we’re going to allocate our resources and prioritize our
obligations, but please rest assured that we plan to honor our commitments,
goals and mission.”

The turmoil within Evergreen comes at a strategic juncture for the sport of mountain biking. Even as the sport explodes among youth, especially teenagers, agencies and other trail user groups are expressing concern over the growth in unauthorized (again, we avoid the term “illegal” as inapplicable in trail administration) construction and riding. In Canada there is no problem, so the kids (groms) watch the DVDs and go to Whistler and NorthShore and see what’s possible and want it in their back yards. They don’t know how to work the system and in any case do not want to wait for bureaucracy to act. In the meantime, veteran mtbers take the heat from their trail peers for things they have nothing to do with (but may wholeheartedly support!); like what adult ever stopped kids from building things — treehouses, forts, skateparks and so on down the line.

Thus “advocacy” becomes the stepchild of “recreation,” creating a dualistic mission for a group like Evergreen.

It all sets the stage for a lively “Town Hall” summit meeting on Tuesday, September 1 at Duthie Hill near Issaquah. It looks like there will be riding before and/or after, as well as a barbecue and festive atmosphere to keep the mood upbeat and positive. See you there!

Daily Roundup: Naked cyclists! Crankworx, iPhone apps, kewl Portland, naked cyclists! and more

In Bicycling, Daily Roundup on August 6, 2009 at 1:09 am

Boy…dog days of August. Not much news to round up! But here goes…

Let’s start with the always reliable wakeup call, NAKED CYCLISTS! Usually naked riders in Seattle paint themselves…and this is probably why. My take: If a mother from Everett finds offense, she shouldn’t be comin’ to downtown Seattle. O my, the things you might see in the Big City! Hey, I’m offended by Everett blue-noses but you don’t see me running to KOMO News to complain…

Mountain Bike Action‘s Web site has video of Brandon Semenuk’s monster ride to win the Crankworx Colorado Slopestyle competition for the second year in a row. Now the trick is for Brandon to repeat on Aug. 15 in his home town — Whistler. A far taller order, the pressure being on…

You know those iPhone bike apps that get so much attention? Yeah, I don’t use ‘em either. BikeHugger explores why, using the Bike Your Drive app as the whipping post.

The Tyee, one of the best metro blogs around, based in Vancouver, B.C., looks at why Portland is just so kewl and finds cycling to be one of its “superiorities” to Vancouver. I’m not so sure on that point — Vancouver has gnarly biking and the Stanley Park/English Bay/West Vancouver mile-after-mile bike path, and there’s nothing anywhere in the states to compare to it — but whatever. It’s an interesting take.

BikePortland.org is cool, however, pointing out how McCain still just doesn’t get it. The butt-kicked Zona senator thinks the U.S. spends too much on bike paths.

Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance is tracking potential fire closures in the Seattle area. But rain supposedly is on the way starting Sunday! Is summer over? Statistically, we’ve had more than our share this year so yeah, get ready…

Speaking of Evergreen, regarding the turmoil in the club’s membership, a Town Hall will be held Monday, Aug. 31, at 6 p.m. in Duthie Hill Lodge near Issaquah. “Please bring an open mind, great ideas and positive energy,” the Yahoo! list invite reads. “We’ll touch on some specific pain points the community has brought to light…” They’re on the right track here but what do you say to a club ride at Duthie before the meeting!

Members question direction of Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance

In Bicycle advocacy, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes on July 29, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Can a professionally run mountain bike organization also be a socially vibrant club?

Or, as one Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance member put it at a sometimes painfully frank board meeting Monday evening, “Are we turning ourselves into a fund-raising group for mountain biking or are we a mountain biking organization that needs to raise funds?”

Drawing a number of Evergreen’s “old guard” — longtime members who carried over from the Backcountry Bicycle Trails Club (BBTC) days — the board meeting bared some long-simmering concerns over the direction of Evergreen and raised some new questions about the future of the group.

The genesis for the airing was discussions at the Kettle Crest gathering recently, as well as Evergreen’s grim financial picture. A number of issues also were raised in a posting by Len Francies to the Yahoo! list, which Tim Banning, Bob Hollander and others picked up on.

Then there’s the money outlook. Discussions about the need to strengthen the organization led to the hiring of a club executive director and staff to represent Evergreen’s interests in the larger community. Despite criticisms over an abrupt and uncommunicated name change, things rolled along pretty well, with the Colonnade project in particular netting local and national publicity for Evergreen. Improved access to Snoqualmie Middle Fork Trail, Duthie Hill, Paradise Valley and the projected Olallie network also proceeded.

When the economy began to tank, however, Evergreen ran into tall budget problems — hardly unique to it, of course, but daunting nonetheless. At Monday’s meeting, executive director John Lang reported that an emergency summer capital campaign (composed of board-matched grassroots funding) had raised an eye-popping $37,000, again a first for Evergreen.

But…some of that money is still in pledge form, and the club continues to lose funding it counted on from other sources. Lang particularly cited support from bike manufacturers and vendors. Big names like Specialized, Trek, SRAM and others, suffering in the current economy like everyone else, have thrown what philanthropy they still have available into the IMBA pot. Evergreen’s argument that it supplies many of the services of IMBA at the local level, and therefore needs separate funding, so far has not made inroads with these supporters.

Bottom line, literally: Evergreen probably has funding to carry it through the end of the year. Beyond that, things look dicey.

In the context of uncertain financial outlook, several speakers suggested that Evergreen should focus on strengthening itself internally first so that a unified front and energized volunteer membership can help evangelize to the larger community.

Several challenges were cited:

1. Alienated veteran members, some of which have left Evergreen altogether, need to be re-welcomed.

2. Volunteerism needs a way to function. Bob Bournique noted that two dropped projects this year, a Poker Run and 24-hour ride, could have been pulled off with volunteers, and could have raised money for Evergreen, had they not been cancelled by leadership. Bournique also noted that volunteers have “nowhere to go” in the current organizational hierarchy of the group, where they could be providing secondary and tertiary leadership roles.

3. More communication, and a different style of communication, is needed. Participation by leadership and board members on the Yahoo! group, use of Twitter and Facebook and other Web tools could enhance visibility with members and the general public. When issues are raised on the Yahoo! list, leadership needs to get involved.

Board members countered that leadership has tried to improve communications via Web announcements on the Evergreen site, and an e-mail newsletter. (Apparently the newsletter doesn’t reach all members, which Jen Lesher acknowledged correctly as a “database problem.”) But “announcements” are different from “give and take,” one member noted. Tim’s great suggestion: Set up an Evergreen online forum (which is quite different from a Yahoo! group).

A suggestion was made to publish minutes of board meetings as one way to keep members apprised.

4. Evergreen leaders need to get out on rides. Bob mentioned that there is member sensitivity to the fact that John is “not a mountain biker.” Whatever John’s leadership qualities are, and no one seemed to impugn them, it is in fact unusual to have the titular leader not emerge from the community. How big of an issue this is to general membership is open to question, and board members are of course active riders.

5. What happened to the ride calendar? Hardly any of the big weekend rides that used to crowd the calendar this time of year are making it onto the Web site. A lot of group riding has gone off-list, partly because the membership is fragmented and there is no way for new to merge with old.

My take: Much of Evergreen’s current straits can be blamed on the evolution of mountain biking in general. There’s a nation-wide movement to unify trail user groups — call it multipartisanship — in hopes of improving access for all. The Mountaineers and Washington Trails Association went through similar spasms as they became more “professional,” and the name change to Evergreen sprang in part on a need to “legitimize” the club in the eyes of government agencies, public forums and other user groups. Len Francies pointed out on a positive note in the Monday meeting that the name change has resulted in “instant recognition” of Evergreen where before BBTC was a head-scratcher to most of the public.

But while professionalism is a necessary step, it doesn’t have to be at the exclusion of the fun part of mountain biking: The riding. There are plenty of examples of successful mtb organizations which also do lots of advocacy, trail work, public volunteering and other outreach, while still getting in regular rides together.

What struck me, listening to Monday’s discussion, is that on a macro level the club is feeling its way through the Obama revolution, where fund-raising relies less on Big Money than on many modest contributions from many sources raised through social networking tools, and where communication must flatten to peer-to-peer, rather than an Olympian “thus shall it be” approach.

Is it in the DNA of Evergreen to adopt a flatter, more networked approach? In post-meeting discussions, I found people focusing on that question. The membership will have another shot at addressing these and other issues at the end-of-August board meeting, being dubbed a Town Hall, time and place yet to be formalized. We’ll keep you posted, and in the meantime don’t be shy about raising the noise level on the list and elsewhere!

“I see we have a lot of passion,” Jen said at the close of Monday’s meeting. “That tells me we have incredible energy and enthusiasm to work with.”

Calendar reminder: Kranked ‘Revolve’ premier Thursday

In Mountain Biking, Trail Access, Videos on July 28, 2009 at 9:40 am

See Kranked’s latest “Revolve” mountain-biking film and benefit your trails at the same time — head for North Bend Theater Thursday evening at 6:30 and enjoy the show!

See a blind rider do jumps at Whistler! Find out how Jamie Goldman got fired from Santa Cruz Bicycles! Watch in dumbfounded wonder at how Lance McDermott came in second in Crankworx 2008! Hear Sam Pilgrim pronounce the word “aluminum”!

It’s all there, and lots more, with spectacular footage from Megavalanche, from Coast, B.C. and Chatel, France, as well as points elsewhere.

Sponsored by the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, your regional representatives in the battle to gain more access to trails.

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