The Four E’s of Enlightenment
By Del Albright, BlueRibbon Ambassador
Most land use organizations, whether they know it or not, are about keeping the fun alive – the four-wheeling, off-roading fun of motors, dirt, mountains, sand dunes, mud holes and rocky trails. BlueRibbon Coalition (BRC) openly believes that and uses that slogan – Keeping the Fun Alive. But I suspect every time you hear the words “land use” you feel a yawn coming on. Allow me to tell you why that yawn should be suppressed.
Ok, I grant you that some land use organizations tend to emphasize the negative aspect of our lands and waterways — as in someone is trying to close them and the sky is falling. Heck, my outfit, BRC and my state association, CA4WDA are guilty of doing that in some cases. But they do it for a good reason; someone is out there trying to close off much of what we do and suppress many of our freedoms. But our real value to you is in keeping the fun alive.
So how does it work? “Keeping the fun alive” means keeping roads and trails open. It means motivating folks like you to join up and support the fights. It also means educating the masses of motorhead enthusiasts as to what is really going on behind closed doors in Washington DC and state capitals. Once you understand the intricacies of the fight, you are more likely to support it!
“Keeping the fun alive” also means having better campaigns, public relations programs and slogans that make sense to you and inspire you to be part of the winning team. BRC has figured this out and is doing more to make all this happen. But wow, is it a slow process. It takes time and effort – oh, and it takes money and members.
The formula to suppress that yawn, and to keep the fun alive that I suggest to off-road/backcountry clubs, associations and groups is what I call the Four E’s of Enlightenment: Engineering, Educating, Enlisting and Enforcing. In reality, these are the same four E’s for building a trail system that sustains over time. But let’s look at the E’s and how they apply to land use.
Engineering: Any good program that motivates you to get involved and inspires you to give more of your volunteer time and (discretionary) money must have a foundation engineered from knowing YOU, your desires, your needs and your commitment to having fun. You, the member or potential member are the KEY to this thing called fun and keeping it alive. Maybe you need to fill out some form and let the “Leadership” know what you like, want and need from your volunteer group (to keep you active). Maybe you just have to speak up. Or perhaps someone in the group needs to do some more homework on demographics and user values. But however it comes together, for a program to succeed it must be engineered with some serious thought and research based on you, the four-wheeler.
This is the easiest part of the Four E’s because all groups like to do some bit of educating. Finding a fun way to show you the value of membership and then educating you with brochures, videos, speeches at meetings, and internet marketing material. But these can’t be boring, yawn-inducing old school garbage….educating today must fit what people are listening to and learning from – TECHNOLOGY. Yes, I’m suggesting Apps, phones, games, internet linked webinars, podcasts, and video!
This means recruiting you and your expertise and experience and putting you to work to increase the value of the group/cause. Enlisting your help, your knowledge, your values and your experience to help the group grow and gain even more value. An Association or Friends group that figures out how to enlist the help, support and involvement of its members (and potential members) is a group way out in front of the rest. Enlisting folks to the cause also means leaving room for them to excel and achieve new heights – it does not mean continuing the iron grip of club elders or association “past ways of doing business.” If you’re going to enlist younger folks then you have to let younger ideas prevail.
Enforcing: Like a trail system with signs and rules, a group or club has to have the same and they have to be enforced or they mean nothing. Without rules most groups fall apart quickly and most new efforts dissolve into dust.
I’m not suggesting that everything has to be a big bureaucratic bogged-down Roberts Rules of Order outfit; but you have to have some semblance of order for the fun to be kept alive. Rules also apply to how one group or club interacts with another, and to how a message is portrayed over a wide audience.
Enlightenment comes from engineering a program or campaign that grabs your attention and motivates you to get involved. Education kicks in to make sure the playing field is level and folks know how the fun is sustained. Recreationists are enlisted to be part of the solution and part of the future of keeping the fun alive. Rules are established in the playing field and enforced fairly to keep the fun sustainable. Common sense and mutual respect are intrinsic to all and part of everyone’s code of ethics. This all leads to better land use.
Enlightenment through better land use means that folks have figured out how to incorporate the acts of motivating, inspiring and facilitating growth and involvement in 4×4 jeeping sports we all love, while adapting to modern technology and the video world. It is no longer a seat of your pants world; it is a world that requires enlightenment to make things happen!
Bottom line: get involved; join what makes sense to you; support those folks and groups that ARE fighting for you – not just talking about it. Spread your support from national and regional groups like the BlueRibbon Coalition to your State Association and your local club. Be enlightened.
Director of Operations, BlueRibbon Coalition www.BlueRibbonCoalition.org
2014 Inductee, Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame (www.ormhof.org)
Founding Trail Boss, Friends of the Rubicon www.rubiconfriends.com