MORE’s Strategic Planning: 2018-2023

MORE’s 2018-2023 STRATEGIC PLANNING SESSION

11-12 November 2017

Hedgesville, WV

Board Members Present

  1. Ernie Rodriguez, President
  2. Rob Lowe, Vice-President
  3. Greg Dwyer, Operations Director
  4. Tom Howe, Membership Director
  5. Carlos Alfaro, Activities Director
  6. Dave Magill, MD Advocacy Director
  7. Jeff Niner, VA Advocacy Director

MORE Staff, MORE Members, and Guests

  1. Steve DonTigny, MORE Executive Director
  2. Jonathan Kidwell, MORE Trail Boss
  3. Jonah Meyers, MORE Assistant Treasurer
  4. Ryan Delaney, MORE member
  5. Michael Hillstrom, MORE Member
  6. Steve Harper, MORE member and Severn Run trail liaison

MORE’s Five Year Strategy (Ernie)

Ernie:  What’s MORE’s long term vision? Where do we see ourselves in five to ten years?

Broader audience.  Becoming a Trail-Focused Organization—planning, building, maintaining, standards, educating, establishing trails in every community in the region, creating diverse trails, ride centers/epics, establishing community—5,000 members and why do we want this? We have a deficit in outreach to political/community leadership and in our advocacy to them–we need to establish and maintain positive interactions and collaborations w/elected officials and land managers in our region.    With respect to community, we need to build this in each jurisdiction’s “own back yards” b/c trails build economic opportunity. More volunteers and mobilization of volunteers. More women and Kids.  We want to be known as THE voice for trails through strong advocacy—MORE will be a voice for trails.  Creating fun, positive experiences for all trail users. We want to maintain focus on “Riding Bikes and Building Trails since 1992”.

Survey to members:  MORE delivers four basic items of value to members:  Advocacy, Building Trails, Riding Opportunities, and Events, + other. Then rank-order these.  Action: Ernie, Rob, and Jonah will work to get a survey on this topic out to members in the next 60 days.

If we bring runners into MORE, they may actually take over the organization in 10 years; we should be prepared for this possibility.

What’s are our strategies to support our long-term vision?  Converting users to trail stewards, maintain and promoting open elections, creating and establishing strategic partnerships, supporting MORE’s liaisons and ride programs, supporting communities, top-notch communications to all stakeholders (members, staff, volunteers, land managers, elected officials, strategic partners, the community), transparency in what we do, better events and branding/signage and focusing on government relations (establishing, maintaining, and defending our brand—MORE).

What goals do we need to establish to support MORE’s strategy and vision?

  • Monthly, focused communication w/key volunteers: MORE Board, MORE Staff, trail liaisons to keep them in the know and in a position to best communicate with riding communities.
  • Quarterly Trail Head News must go out on a quarterly basis as a rule.
  • Social Media. Who in MORE should have access to the web page and the social media pages?  Website is for archiving and legal/administrative documents and FB is for posting events and communicating w/members and partners.  Martin has a 70-page document on strategy.  No current access for Jeff, Rob, Carlos, lets fix that.  Action:  Greg, with input from the Board and staff, will draft a social media policy for review by the board for the December Board meeting.
  • Transparency—board meetings are open to all members and non-members and minutes are always posted to the website.
  • Open Elections: we will continue to promote MORE’s openness and transparency with open elections for all.  Continue to recruit assistants for the Board on various committees and for specific events and activities.  Assistant volunteers help reduce workload and gain understanding of daily operations of the BoD’s.
  • Transforming trails users into trail stewards: Trail Building planning and maintenance.  Several MORE members (Eric and Mike in particular) have been on the front lines of this.  Q:  Is more education regarding trail building and maintenance a strategy to build the base for trail builders (trail knowledge)?  Empowering liaisons.  Educating our partner groups:  hikers, runners, equestrians.  “Educational Outreach”. Show our current and prospective partners that there is a technical aspect (engineering, landscape architecture, construction, environmental management) to the trail work that MORE does.  Ryan D. has some experience w/this in Prince William County, VA.  IMBA is implementing “Trail Labs”—an educational series w/land managers
  • Continue to build and strengthen the liaison community see more detail below
  • Events: We know that membership is driven by events, therefore continue the Discovery Ride Series, create vol. opportunities from events, and focus on both big and small events.  Summer Member Picnic vs. a one-time Discovery Ride.
  • Branding: branding at trails, (temp signs at Fountainhead and BROT) “this trail ‘BROT’ to you by MORE”, signs at trailheads, parking lots, etc.  Suggest we get some type of coordinator for the liaisons for this for each park.  This works well w/our vision for MTB Project and a volunteer or intern.
  • Government Relations: Continue the OA model that Jonah and Ryan have established.  Continue working w/the VA mountain bike alliance. Who can assist in MD? —Dave Magill has the action to reach-out to other MD chapters.  We want to strengthen our voice with Annapolis.
  • Strategic Partnerships: for example, hiking and equestrian groups, Outdoor Alliance, Friends of Patapsco, WABA, youth organizations (NICA and YMCA). Should MORE recognize these partners on our website and FB pages?  Q:  What about 2018—should the MoCo Epic team work w/MoCo runners to have a race or event on Saturday of the MoCo Epic weekend in 2018?  Who are partners for the Patapsco Trail Fest? —canoe club, running clubs, Friends of Patapsco, Patapsco Heritage, Mountain Club of MD, Heritage Org.

Expanding partnerships is time consuming.  Takes commitment.  We simply can’t talk about it and give this task to a board member.  Could we survey the liaisons to find out who they are partnering with—YES. Could we put a “partnership” news item in every edition of Trail Head News?  YES.  Action:  Dave Magill and Jeff Niner to organize this via a survey before the spring 2018 trail liaisons meeting. 

Vision and Mission of MORE’s Executive Director for 2018 (Steve)

  • Lead MoCo Epic 2018
  • Continue w/events management at MoCo, increase participation by volunteers and others.
  • Increase sponsors and fundraising
  • Saturday demo rides: Increase bike manufactures and vendor presence at the event.
  • Increasing membership through new memberships
  • MORE partnerships: serving as representative of MORE.  Trail runners.
  • Lead and facilitate fundraising efforts
  • DC advocacy—I’ve moved off this somewhat and handed this to the current team at DCMTB. Will continue to support local DC team.
  • Trail building opportunities in Loudon County; trials there are almost non-existent.
  • Support communications and operations
3 replies
  1. BottomBraket
    BottomBraket says:

    What about riding our Mountain Bikes on the trails we already have? MORE sponsored Weekend Mountain Bike rides have been few in numbers the past few years. I count 42 MORE sponsored weekend Mountain Bike rides in the last year. That’s less than 1 per week. Potomac Pedalers road bike club has about 4 to 8 rides every weekend [1]. The Discovery Series of rides have done a great job of getting our weekend rides back. We need to continue and EXPAND this concept to get MORE people back on the trail, riding their Mountain Bikes as MORE members. We need to make it EASY for ride leaders to post rides that actually get posted in places where riders can FIND the event, RSVP, and ENTER questions and comments for the event.
    [1] https://www.potomacpedalers.org/ride-listing?field_ride_class_value=All&field_state_ride_start_value=All

    • Steve
      Steve says:

      I agree – events build community. I like this strategic vision. My thought is that MORE exists to support its members. There are many different kinds of mountain bikers and trail users and I think we should listen to all of them.

      I’ve already seen some comments on Facebook that people are concerned about the turn to becoming a trail focused organization but I think that’s critical. The reason it’s important is that it’s the only way we’ll have the political power and recognition to expand into areas where there’s opposition to our presence.

      The solution is more trails for all. We need all trail users to join us in advocacy, trail building, trail maintenance and we’ll have more trail to ride.

      If we decide not to try and get other users to join our organization then maybe we should be more active in coordinating the communications of all the groups that use our public spaces.

      Perhaps the most important challenge would be to effectively identify how many people currently use the trails and be able to convince decision makers that we speak for them.

  2. Bob Caverly
    Bob Caverly says:

    On the topic of “Strategic Partnerships”, I would like to express a few thoughts. Not too many years ago we (mountain bikers) were generally considered the devil incarnate by equestrian and running groups. Today, in Montgomery County we have a great working relationship with some of the equestrians and that should be actively expanded. The relationship with “runners”has not been pursued or significantly improved as far as I can tell. This is a shame. I strongly believe we should develop a program of outreach to running, hiking and equestrian groups and whenever possible work together on issues we have in common – that can only improve trails and access for everyone in the long run. We do occasionally get other trail users at work days – when we do it is usually enlightening and informative for both sides. I think it would be great to seek out more formal relationships with other trail user groups so that we can grow this kind of mutual support. We have even had hikers, equestrians, etc, volunteer for the MoCo Epic – in turn we should make ourselves available to other groups to help when they need it – that is just good neighborliness and common sense.

    That said, I would adamantly oppose any effort or plan to actively recruit other trail users as MORE members – unless of course they are also mountain bikers. MORE is a mountain biking club – it should stay that way. That does not mean I think we should require “proof of mountain biking” as a prerequisite for membership – but we should NOT be specifically recruiting other user groups!

    To the question of adding a running race to the MoCo Epic – again – absolutely not!! Would you invite speedboats to a Hobie regatta? No, of course not! Same thing here. The MoCo Epic is a mountain biking event – for mountain bikers – by mountain bikers. I have been a part of the MoCo Epic committee since the initial planning of the very first event in 2010. Over the years this event has raised tens of thousands of dollars (~$30,000 net in 2017) for the club and generated millions of smiles and memories associated with riding bikes in the woods. I repeat – it is a mountain biking event – not a trail running (or equestrian) event.

    Building on what Michael (BottomBraket) said above – if we want to grow the club, then we have to put the “fun” back in the club! I got involved with MORE because it was fun. There were LOTS of people leading rides all over the place – on any given weekend you could find multiple rides, often multiple in the same park, targeting all rider levels. It’s how I met and got to know some of my best friends! If you want MORE people, you have got to first make it MORE fun and easy for people to ride. The volunteerism will naturally follow. Today there are multiple Facebook groups, Meet-up, and the MORE FB page through which folks find and organize rides – but there is no one stop shop for this like the “old” forums used to be. No I am not trying to lament the passing of the forums or pretending we should revive them – that ship has sailed permanently – but I am acknowledging the reality. Given that reality we need to find way to bridge the multiple disparate “groups” that exist today and get them all riding and having fun together again.

    While there may be exceptions to the rule – I strongly believe MORE should be about FUN first – that is what will grow friendships first and then membership – and then through common desires we can grow the trail building, advocacy, etc. Without that fun factor, it is simply not going to happen. My MTB is for fun – it is not my job and I don’t want it to become one. If it is NOT fun then my bike will first collect dust in my garage and ultimately get sold or given away – guess how much trail work I’ll be doing in that scenario?

    Sincerely,
    Bob Caverly
    Schaeffer Farm Co-Liaison
    MoCo Epic Committee
    … sometimes I also ride a bike …. 🙂

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