Leaders from eleven community-based bicycle advocacy organizations gathered in Portland over the weekend of August 3-5, 2012 in order to share best practices, explore new partnerships and collaborations, and discuss the future of the bicycle movement. Four national organizations also joined the team to listen and reflect on how the local and state bicycle movement can help impact national efforts and vice versa.
Each of the following organizations brought with them key leaders in their organization that focus on areas of advocacy, operations and communications:
- Active Transportation Alliance (Chicago)
- The Alliance for Biking and Walking (Washington, DC)
- America Bikes (Washington, DC)
- Bicycle Alliance of Washington
- Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia
- Bicycle Colorado
- Bicycle Transportation Alliance (Portland)
- Bikes Belong (Boulder, CO)
- Cascade Bicycle Club (Seattle)
- Community Cycling Center (Portland)
- League of American Bicyclists (Washington, DC)
- Marin County Bicycle Coalition
- San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
- Trailnet (St. Louis, MO)
- Transportation Alternatives (New York City)
One of the unique elements of this gathering was that it was not just the Executive Directors who attended. “I had a wonderful opportunity to share ideas with other communications directors throughout the country, learning about what worked, what didn’t work, and ways to work together to formulate winning messages for bicycle advocacy,” said Margaux Mennesson, BTA’s Communications Director.
Key topic areas including finding ways to collaborate on campaigns around safety, funding and messaging. The groups committed toward clear outcomes to diversify the movement. Some of the discussions centered on very “boring” issues such as how best to run an organization leading to an agreement to share personnel policies and employee evaluation tools, but other discussions allowed the group to think through better strategies toward achieving policy and legislative change at the state level.
Brighid O’Keane (Alliance for Biking and Walking) and Noah Budnick (Transportation Alternatives) help the group develop ideas for possible collaboration that might lead to a united fundraising proposal to a national foundation.
The sheer size of the groups was pretty impressive. The staff from the local and state organizations represented more than 200 employees with a total budget of more than $20 million. This is only a small subset of all the local advocacy organizations across the country, but shows the power being developed. Finding ways to tap into that power to mobilize at the state, local and national level will be key to winning substantial reform in transportation policy.
Personally, I left the three day meeting recharged and excited to try new strategies. I was proud of our staff who not only contributed to the organization and facilitation of the group, but who quickly stepped up as leaders. Thanks to all the Portland friends who provided homestays to our guests!