From: [a friend]
Subject: Save Your Park!
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2022 21:04:31 -0600
Mountain bike issues in my small town seem to be over (knock on wood.) It was a terrible 5-month battle to save a small woods in a park in the center of town, not the kind of place you would expect to face mountain bike demand. But the IMBA "Trails Close to Home" initiative encourages members and member groups to seek access in urban parks and natural areas. If it happened here, it could happen anywhere:
What can help:
---pro-actively create a "friends of the park" organization. (We did not have this but it might have helped.)
---a pre-existing base network of nature-oriented orgs and individuals who have worked together on other issues and know each other well. (We did have this!)
---pro-active monitoring of board and commission meetings. Years of consistent monitoring of a board is a fascinating education in government, offering in-depth knowledge of documents, processes, decisions, officials past and present......as well as an early alarm system.
---abundant online research - delve into city documents, check for potential conflicts of interest, research information from national level articles (thanks Mike!)
---create a simple one-page informational flyer of highlights of your position, with email address for officials to write to and your own contact info. You can use the flyer statement for a social media statement too.
---reach out to current park users with flyers. Neighbors of the park, too.
---put together an "action alert" email list of supporters, continually encourage their letters to city officials and newspaper, update them with news and promote citizen presence and comment at city meetings.
---avoid giving spontaneous verbal statements to the press. Ask if you can email them your statements. It gives you opportunity for thoughtful wording.
---remember anything on social media can found and used by the other side. There could also be moles on your mailing list. Be careful what you put out there.
---identify a trusted core team and utilize their attributes. Some have the knowledge, experience and/or instincts for strategy. Environmental scientists might offer analyses of the site. A techie type might put together a website. A particularly articulate person could act as PR spokesperson. Who has good contacts, influence, gifts of persuasion? Love your team, stay in close contact, nurture positive spirit, laughter and morale!
---always be honest. Own what you say. Your opponents will accuse you of "misinformation" no matter what you say. Don't give their claims legitimacy.
---keep to the high road. Grow a tough hide, stay calm in the face of insults, provide links to facts whenever possible. Avoid emotionalism, hyperbole, personal insults, ad hominem arguments. Avoid face-to-face confrontations with the other side - agree to disagree and walk away. Be respectful to city officials, don't disrupt meetings with rude conduct.
---accept that it's gonna be a rollercoaster ride that will eat up your time, fray your nerves, wreck your sleep, threaten your health, exhaust your brain......and you're going to get tarred, even if you win. And you may not win, there's an element of luck involved and it may never be truly over. But the experience will cement new friendships and alliances that can last a lifetime. And there's even some joy in it, too.
---Research your local mountain biking clubs’ web sites
Well, that's everything I can think of. Best of luck to all!