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How to Build a Coalition: Friends of Coy Hill

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How to Build a Coalition: Friends of Coy Hill

Postby Scott Hatch » Sun Nov 04, 2007 6:07 pm

How to Build a Coalition and Save a Recreation Area

By Del Albright, BlueRibbon Ambassador

I was nodding off with my chin resting on my chest when the meeting speaker suddenly caught my attention. I hate it when that happens – he called out my name and asked me a question. Of course, because I’d been lost in dreams of trails and mountains, I had no clue what the question was. But my neighbor saved me and said, “Give your coalition speech.”

That made it easy. I’ve given my “coalition speech” dozens of times. Then it occurred to me that I should make this one of my columns. So herein, I will share with you the secrets of how to build a coalition and save a recreation area. It works!

Let’s start with the Assumptions:

1. Your recreation or riding area is under threat of restrictions or closures – if not now, then someday. Perhaps an Endangered Species is just waiting to be found. Perhaps your area is prime for Wilderness.

2. You’re not the only one who recreates out there; there are other riders and other types of recreation or land use taking place in your favorite spot.

3. You’re not a big “joiner,” but you are a member of at least one group (like the BlueRibbon Coalition).

4. You have not assumed that someone else is going to save your recreation area.

5. There are probably a few uninformed folks using your area who don’t follow all the rules, do not stay on designated routes, and leave trash behind.

6. Someday, you want your kids enjoying this same area and recreation.

Now we’ll look at the process for saving this recreation area. As I write this, dozens of states are doing this very thing. I have helped numerous individuals do exactly what I’m about to tell you – turn a one-person dream into a recreation-saving reality. I am essentially going to give you the formula that we used to form the Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR). FOTR has served as an example nationwide for coalition building and recreation-saving efforts. It does not matter what type area or access issue we’re talking about; this process is generic.

From the onset, I recommend your coalition be multiple-use (all interests and users). One definition of coalition is, “An alliance of factions formed for a specific purpose.” You’ll understand the reason for this better as you read through the process.

STEP ONE is “Step up to the plate.” Only one person need start a recreation-saving effort. But someone does need to step up and start the ball rolling. Do not assume someone else it out there saving your play area/trail. You can take the first step and start the ball rolling. I’m a good first contact. I will help anyone save a recreation or trail/riding area. Step up to the plate and label yourself the savior of a trail or area. Start calling yourself the Trail Boss or President of your newly formed group: Friends of <My>.

STEP TWO is to communicate -- begin collecting emails and contact information for other folks who might be interested in your area. Start an emailing list or network. Take a multiple-use approach. Get in touch with all forms of users (equestrians, snowmobilers, ATVers, wheelers, rock collectors, sheep herders, hunters, etc.) who might be using your area. Align your group with other groups of similar interest.

By aligning with other groups right off the bat, you can save yourself tons of work and wheel reinventing. Besides, we must be unified in our efforts and find ways to reduce user conflict before we ever get in front of an elected official or government agent.

I can help you start a statewide or regional emailing list. Eventually you may want to find a list-serve ISP or provider that will host your email list so you can make it a subscribe-only, moderated list. No matter how you do it, get hooked up with everyone and anyone that might be an ally for your recreation area.

It is usually critical though, that you take a multiple-use approach to saving your riding area. We cannot have user disagreements and conflict arise when it comes time for public testimony or grant money applications. Eliminate these possibilities early on by having all users working together.

STEP THREE is to advertise. Get a web site going. Through your email network (or meetings if you have the luxury), build a Mission or Purpose Statement. Promote this. Send out flyers to local merchants. Send letters to local elected officials introducing your group and your interest. Conduct field trips and ridealongs. Get your county commissioner or Board of Supervisors out on the ground with you. Write a press release to your local papers and write letters to the editors. Let the world know that Friends of <My> exists and they’d best deal with you when it comes to talking about that area.

STEP FOUR is organizational development. Build your membership through word of mouth and emailing networks. Have at least one official meeting a year; the rest of your business might easily be handled by email and field trips. Set up an informal chain of command so you have folks you can delegate tasks and projects. Encourage volunteers to take the reins and run a clean up or trail maintenance project. Advertise everything you do. Find a volunteer who writes, and ask them to do a few articles about your new coalition and the work you are doing. Take a member of the local press out with you and let them write the story (as long as they are friendly to your cause).

No matter how many meetings you do or don’t have, run your meetings well. Too many meetings, or poorly run meetings can kill a coalition quickly. Visit my web site for a guaranteed winner way to run a meeting (www.delalbright.com/meetings.htm)

I am not suggesting that you need to get very official. In fact, I am suggesting you try to keep things simple. FOTR has no dues; no structure; no officers or Board of Directors, and it works just fine. Donations come in when needed, and are mostly project related.

However, each case is different. It would depend on the area politics and interests of the group.

During this step, you can get somewhat official and set up things like an Oversight Committee for <My>. We have one for the Rubicon Trail called the Rubicon Oversight Committee (ROC). It’s composed of user groups, private landowners, commercial trail users, local, state and federal agencies, as well as environmental groups.

Obviously, not all these folks would be members of your Friends of <My>.

Oversight Committees usually guide the future development (or lack thereof) of a riding area. It’s important to have all interested parties represented, as this will help you eliminate roadblocks before you get up against them.

During this step you should also start pursuing grant money for your recreation area, in cooperation with the new partners you’ve developed. The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) is the first place to look. $50,000,000 is available nationwide. Visit my web site for more on RTP.

If you’d like to get more official, you can get help from publications available from the BlueRibbon Coalition, the American Motorcycle Association, or your state/regional organizations. You can also look into incorporating (501.c.3, 6, 7 etc.) under IRS rules.

STEP FIVE is to stay alive as a group. This is the ongoing process of keeping folks informed; letting your members of Friends of <My> vote on issues and become project leaders so they have ownership in the area. Make your coalition an inclusive effort wherein everyone has a say. Schedule an annual cleanup to keep folks interested in preserving the riding area. Plan fun events in your riding area, such as picnics, informal meetings, rides, and family outings. Conduct raffles if your group likes them. Keep your group alive.

This article gives you the foundation to start a coalition and begin saving your riding area. The formula works. I will help you through this process, step by step if you’d like. Feel free to contact me.

(Example “Friends” type groups: Friends of Sand Mountain; Friends of Oceano Dunes).

Del Albright, internationally published columnist, State Environmental Affairs Coordinator for CA4WDC and BlueRibbon Ambassador, has authored volumes over the last 20 years on land use, outdoor recreation, and access. Visit Del’s web site at http://www.delalbright.com or email Del.
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Postby Scott Hatch » Sun Nov 04, 2007 6:23 pm

STEP ONE: Project Leader Joe Ostrenga

STEP TWO: Gather allies & communicate with them

Whose on board?

NEA4WDC
EC4WDA
local wheelers

STEP THREE: Advertise

we will need to secure www . friendsofcoyhill . org Jay can we do this through our arrangement? How much will this cost? How extravigant do we want to go? I would like to use a total forum based platform.

Or do we want to keep it simple and create a section on NEOW for Friends of Coy Hill? Rawlus, the main admin on NEOW, has offered to do this.

I also think we need to send a clarification on this article that was in the local paper ASAP and it should come signed by Joe representing All 4x4 users under Friends of Coy Hill

http://www.telegram.com/article/2007110 ... 004/NEWS04

STEP FOUR: Stay Active

I think the group should send out a weekly or monthly update

===========

Many of the above items should be done by other interested parties but its important to remember that Joe is the man in charge here.
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Postby nuthinfancy » Mon Nov 05, 2007 5:31 pm

How about a simple Blog for theb Public Face and forum for the Working Face?
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Postby Scott Hatch » Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:14 pm

I think that is the set up that New England 4 Wheelers use....Jay any idea what the cost of this would be to set up?
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Postby nuthinfancy » Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:34 pm

You can do the blog through Google for free.
If you do the friendsofcoyhill.org, should you also do the rest-.com, .net, .us et al so that you don't get a "flame" site set up?
Domain names run $10 a year.
You could probably put a subdomain on your existing site- I don't think you are using much space?
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Postby Scott Hatch » Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:36 pm

I'm not very knowledgeable with web hosting and things, if he is up to it I'll let Jay set this up at the NEA's expense for now
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Postby Scott Hatch » Tue Nov 06, 2007 9:25 am

any thoughts on this Jay?
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Postby JayZR2 » Tue Nov 06, 2007 10:32 am

I have my hands full trying to keep up with my clubs website and this one. I don't really want to take on another one to be honest.

However if you want to use an entirely forum based program, my suggestion is to go with hostmonster, registering the domain with them is free, and they are $5/95 month but you have to pay for a year at a time. www.friendsofcoyhill.org is available.

Then I would use the phpBB platform and make the public section read only and the hidden section for workers postable. Once set up it shouldn't be too hard to maintain.

If you want to go that route, I will set it up but I don't want to be responsible for managing it long term.
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Postby Scott Hatch » Tue Nov 06, 2007 10:49 am

I can maintain that site if you can get it set up, that will be one of my contributions to Coy Hill :up:
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Postby adk_tj » Tue Nov 06, 2007 11:03 am

What about setting it up on an existing account with a domain redirect from www.friendsofcoyhill.org? Would that be a viable option?
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Postby JayZR2 » Tue Nov 06, 2007 11:13 am

You mean like a subdomain?
That would be an option, but we don't have the space here. If Rawlus is willing to do that via NEOW that is up to him. Or if someone else has the room.
I was thinking if this is going to be a long term effort (more then 5 years) which I assume it is, then it should be it's own freestanding entity so as not to rely on someone that might not be around in 5 years for whatever reason.
hyp·o·crite   [hip-uh-krit]
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Postby Scott Hatch » Tue Nov 06, 2007 11:22 am

Lets set it up as its own entity :up:
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Postby adk_tj » Tue Nov 06, 2007 11:37 am

JayZR2 wrote:I was thinking if this is going to be a long term effort (more then 5 years) which I assume it is, then it should be it's own freestanding entity so as not to rely on someone that might not be around in 5 years for whatever reason.


Good point.

Another thought would be to do a "friendsof" with each issue a subdomain...like www.something.org/coyhill", www.something.org/mabell, etc.
Just tossing out stuff... :wink:
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Postby Scott Hatch » Tue Nov 06, 2007 11:53 am

Good points, I'm not very "techy" with online things other than being an admin on a site.

Jay is that something we can do one we establish that domain?
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Postby JayZR2 » Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:02 pm

Ummm I already booked friendsofcoyhill.org, so we could do that but they would be friendsofcoyhill.org/Mabell etc.
Or just make sections for each in the forum? I know the domain isn't really reflective of that though.
hyp·o·crite   [hip-uh-krit]
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Postby Scott Hatch » Thu Nov 08, 2007 8:40 am

The friends of coy hill is active, here is the URL for the forum

http://www.friendsofcoyhill.org/forums/index.php

Can I get the logo for EC4WDA for inclusion on the site?
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Postby adk_tj » Thu Nov 08, 2007 8:43 am

edit>let me check on that
booger is a funny word
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Postby Scott Hatch » Thu Nov 08, 2007 8:47 am

email it to me at shatch at nea4wd dot org
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Postby tammylynn » Sun Dec 02, 2007 5:07 pm

Is the private section up yet on the forum for our meeting yesterday? Not rushing..just making sure I am not missing it. When I am done with typing up the notes I will post in that forum and here.
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Postby JayZR2 » Sun Dec 02, 2007 5:09 pm

yup it's up. I added you to t he group
hyp·o·crite   [hip-uh-krit]
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Postby tammylynn » Sun Dec 02, 2007 7:10 pm

Got it. Thanks.
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