The NEBRA Board election is just around the corner (January 29, to be exact) and I’d like to take the opportunity to further clarify why I’m seeking a space on the Board, and what I’d like to accomplish if I get there.
You’ll notice I said “fellow constituents” and not “fellow racers.” The NEBRA constituency is not purely racers, nor is it purely promoters. Certainly it includes both categories, as well as officials, youth development teams, clubs, recreational riders, the fondo community, and I’d argue the bike shops too. It feels like we’re at a critical inflection point within the sport, with well-loved events either going away or struggling financially, racer numbers declining, and challenging ongoing dialogue about how to balance competing interests. I’d like to see us as a community to approach these issues openly, and with all stakeholders given the opportunity to voice their specific concerns. I’m a racer, for sure, but racers would waste away, wandering lonely souls, without promoters to offer race opportunities, officials to officiate, and so on.
I’d argue that promoters and racers have the same interests in mind, broadly speaking. We all want high-quality, well-attended and safe events in New England. Racers and promoters are aligned in wanting a financially sustainable sport. We may each individually have different perspectives on how best to both preserve and build upon the current foundation, and I’d like to be part of the dialogue on how best to move forward.
You may have already seen my posted candidate statement here. I’d like to also highlight a couple more specific priorities I’d like to pursue as part of the Board.
- Expand the NEBRA governance structure. I have tremendous respect for all of the current board members, their dedication to our sport, and their willingness to dedicate personal time and energy to NEBRA. They are all hard-working people, in the bike world and outside of it. A small team of generalists are limited in how much time can be dedicated to any one project. I believe that moving toward an expanded model and/or subcommittee structure with specific delegated responsibilities would offer more focused effort on individual projects for the same amount of time committed. Our peers in the mid-Atlantic have embraced this model:
- Greater transparency. Using myself as a gauge here: my first instinct to the above model was ‘No, Erin, I’m not willing to do the work and not have a voice at the Board level.’ I think that’s really valid, and truthfully it’s impacted my own willingness to engage. I also think transparency addresses the problem of community members not understanding all of what NEBRA does. I don’t think anybody doubts that NEBRA is working hard behind the scenes to facilitate a healthy racing scene; at the same time, I’ve heard commentary from people not understanding exactly what that means. Our peers at both MABRA and NYSBRA post all Board meeting minutes on their websites here and here, respectively. The first, and simplest step would be for NEBRA to mirror this transparency by posting Board Meeting minutes. The secondary step would be to invite all the delegates to speak directly about their areas of focus. I have discussed the Mid-Atlantic model with a member of their Board directly, and would be happy to update on what I’ve learned both publicly and off-line to the NEBRA Board.
- Increased communication. I would never suggest that Twitter is the optimal communication mechanism for anyone, despite being an active Tweeterer. However, I do believe that public discourse is both positive and essential for the health and growth of our sport. I think it’s important for all of us to be able to speak out about challenges we’re facing within the bike world. I concede that there’s a fine line between public discourse and public aggression, but that’s a separate issue. That said, I’d argue that taking all discussion offline about challenging issues lends to a few problems: First, I think it makes people feel like they’re getting excluded from a conversation that impacts them. Second, it leads to having the same conversations over and over, year-to-year, person-to-person. It’s inefficient. Where the prior generation had the Yahoo group (RIP), I’d like to see this generation have the Slack channel. Something like a Slack channel balances public/private, as seeing discussion is exclusive to community members, but allows anyone with an interest to voice an opinion. And it’s more organized than Twitter. More direct conversation (civil, of course) is, I’d argue, a good thing. And for those who aren’t interested, it’s simple not to opt-in!
It’s possible you disagree with some of the public stances I’ve taken re: women’s racing particularly. I think that’s okay. I’d like to believe that there’s room for healthy disagreement without the need for things to become personal. I also strongly believe that people of all opinions should be given the floor, so long as they are open to considering the alternative point(s) of view. That aside, the beauty of a diverse board is that no individual view can claim too much power due to distributed voting (NEBRA Blockchain??). What I’m saying is: I’d like you to consider my candidacy based on what I’m laying out as priorities. It would be a great honor to be given the opportunity to work more directly as part of NEBRA to address the current and future needs of our bike community.
TL;DR Please vote for me