Only by escalating to more offensive strategies will we win the battles for access.
Our Jeeping world is always a bit on the edge – of something fun OR of someone trying to put a gate on our trail. Not trying to be Chicken Little, but I am going to suggest we re-engage our interests and do more than we have been doing as a community. Here’s how I see it.
Do not just volunteer; but rather up-purpose your volunteerism! In today’s world when we are all torn in many directions by multiple jobs, kids’ school games, community involvement, paying bills, family commitments, and more, we must stop wasting our precious volunteer time. Too many of us have become trapped in the status quo of losing ground in the long run. Herein I will explain purposeful volunteerism and how we need to push beyond just holding our ground when it comes to access to responsible motorized recreation.
“Move the water tender shack and make it a kiosk,” they said. Rubicon volunteers up-purposed and got it done!**
First of all, we must embrace the concept of “think globally; act locally.” If you want to up-purpose your volunteer time, I suggest you always consider the big picture before you invest your time. Ask yourself, “in the big scheme of things, will this project I’m about to undertake to make a difference worth my time invested?” If it will, then do it. If it won’t, then don’t do it – find something better to do with your volunteer time. But it must start with a serious and purposeful consideration of the global picture – the overall future of motorized recreation in America.
Working Association Events: Yes, I believe that working (volunteering) at state associations or club events does make a difference in the long run to the big picture. When the event is geared towards raising funds to help the association/club accomplish its mission, you are helping the global cause by being involved. The extent of your involvement is not as important as the purpose of your commitment. If all you can do is run the sign-in table at a convention, which frees up other people to do more complicated jobs, then smile proudly and do your job! You are helping the global cause.
It’s always a good thing to help your club or association by volunteering your time to work events.
Curing Toenail Fungus: This is really about feel-good community projects and efforts. And no, I don’t think investing my discretionary off-road time and money into curing “fungus among us” (or any other non-motorized effort) is the right way to be a purposeful volunteer for motorized recreation. Even if you do cure the fungus, you’ll be lucky to get a 1/16-page blurb in the local newspaper and a fleeting thank you in some newsletter/website that people might remember for a week.
You will not be curing our loss of lands and access with this supposed image-enhancing effort. The trick here is to invest your time in events and causes that MOSTLY support off-road recreation and also to a smaller extent support a feel-good cause.
Being a Club or Organization Leader: Yes, for sure I believe that taking on a leadership role in a club or association is a key factor in being purposeful in your volunteer efforts. The entire motorized world does not have enough people with the time to invest in being a leader. So if that is you, jump all over it and do it with gusto – but also do it with the global picture always forefront in your mind. Ask yourself, for example, if being part of an ego squabble is the right way to protect our access future. Play your own “devil’s advocate” and challenge the actions you are taking or about to take.
Will your next step really help the big picture – are you being purposeful in your volunteerism? As a leader, this is a key component to inspiring others to do the same. When you can influence the actions, beliefs, and productivity of several other volunteers, then you have become an unstoppable force in the future of motorized access.
Every club/group project needs leaders and organizers — if that is you, take the task on with gusto!***
Taking it to Court: Only by escalating to more offensive strategies will we win the battles for access. This means we need a war chest that will allow us to take it to court when needed –to go legal and go strong! Those who oppose our way of life have the funds and legal teams to file lawsuits at the drop of a hat. They tie up land management agencies in fearful legal engagements and threats that tie up our access in the meantime and many times in the long run. We must get ahead of this curve and be preemptive where needed. Donating to the legal efforts of your favorite motorsports group is the primary thing we can all do to take it to the next level – or at least be willing, prepared, and able to go on the offensive.
Joining and Donating: There is nothing more fundamental to up-purposing your involvement than joining, renewing, or donating to everything you can afford that helps protect recreational motorized access. If you do nothing else, an ongoing donation program or an annual contribution on top of your renewing memberships is globally significant! We must unite our voices and build our access forces, as well as our war chests if we are to win these battles.
Summary: Continually ask yourself if you are making progress toward the global picture, or just staying trapped in the status quo of losing ground. Remember to be purposeful in your volunteer efforts by investing your time where the payback is worth it to the big picture of keeping our access to responsible motorized recreation. And let’s go beyond just holding our ground! Let’s put a lot of smiles on volunteers, land managers, and trail users — let’s up-purpose and make stuff happen!
The author and wife, Stacie Albright (on right) with two happy up-purposed volunteers!
* * Friends of the Rubicon Trail (FOTR) with the help of Dana Holland (towing and wrecking company and Cal4wheel volunteer) uprooted this Ditch/Water Tender old shack and hauled it over the slabs of the Rubicon Trail to the current location at the spillway where it serves as the Kiosk.
*** FOTR volunteers building fences out of native material to prevent off-trail travel.