Evaluation of Ecotopia Biketour 2015, copied from the pad.
Feedback/Reflection Ecotopia Biketour 2015
many beautiful moment
(too) many challenging debates on basic principles little knowledge in the group about consensus decision making
cooking and eating together was great
song covers as breakfast calls - excellent
talking about things to do or to improve without acting on it was disheartening
we could probably do with spending some money on good maps and do more research on how roads are beforehand even by looking at google maps and street view
the role of the tail didn't work well
Consensus decision making is a wonderful idea but it doesn't function well unless ALL the people in the circle understand how it works. Maybe an intro pack needs to be made? A weekly workshop? If something like this is not in place and we don't know how to facilitate and participate circles, they become inefficient, as well as painful, negative experiences, which massively affects group moral and cohesion.
Leaving late and arriving late most days was frustrating. I was really shocked when I first joined to tour to discover how late we left in the mornings! I had assumed we would be up and away early every day. Of course I loved having lazy mornings, slow breakfasts and lake swimming before heading off cycling, but arriving late and eating late was exhausting. My impression was that the majority of the group felt the same, but newcomers like myself would join and have to fit into that 'late' schedule, and didn't feel comfortable to question it, having just joined the tour. We were constatly held up by a small number of people who seemed to find it impossible to get out of bed and get organised in the morning. I would like to see some sort of basic guidelines put in place for eaving and arriving times EVERY DAY. For example - the scouts leave between 8.30 - 10am. The tail leaves no later than 12noon. etc etc. Arrival time between 6pm-8pm. That way, you set people's expectations before they arrive on the tour, in the same way that we clearly stipulate that we only eat vegan food.
It would be lovely to be a little more organised in terms of researching in advance local farmers/organic food places where we can get local, fresh food from. Rather than relying on supermarkets to supplement dumpstered food
I would love to see more skill-sharing workshops in the future between participants.
Nice route - good roads, a lot of nature.
Interesting variety of hosts, sleeping places and visited projects.
Gap between the written participation guidelines and "common law" rules and rituals in the biketour practice.
Many people complain about or accuse other participants of not knowing for example consensus decision making or sustainability. But maybe it's their own narrow, background-specific understanding of the process or topic?
Too many rest days, not really translating into amount of rest-day activities. Being unable to meet for the circle on a rest-day before 1 pm. Being unable to leave before noon even after a series of consecutive rest days, because people suddenly remembered all the things they were supposed to do on rest days.
Agree with not enjoying the late finishing on biking days. Was nice to relax and chill in the morning, but this resulted in rushed tent building and cooking at dusk, into the dark, and late nights before going to sleep, which led to sleeping in, and later mornings, cycle... And this didn't seem to be a conscious decision by the group, rather just a slow relaxation//laziness/deterioration of some time schedule.
Group seemed to be quite divided into 2 or more groups (cliques). Obviously this is somewhat natural as certain folks get along better, but I feel this evolved into quite a negative aspect of the larger group, with different "factions" spending days apart, camping in different spots, not really interacting at all, or helping each other out, other then perhaps in circles, which would result in some arguments or disagreements based on the widely different views and experiences of the tour. Obviously, I don't think anybody set out to do this on purpose, but at the same time, nobody (including myself) really tried to bring the different cliques together...
I also agree on the scouts (and the tail also!) having a stricter schedule. Otherwise it gets quite sucky for the rest of the group. I think the scouts should find a camping spot somewhere between 5-7pm (unless the group needs to make extra-long distances) so that the cooking team can reach them before it's late. My impression is that sometimes the scouts (including myself) were quite stressed to make a sufficient distance which sometimes led to cycling into late hours. The solution for the scouts could be leaving very early (just eating breakfast and packing their own stuff) before the majority of the group wakes up as interaction between the scouts and the others only slows them down and makes it more stressful for them to leave quickly. This also means planning the route ahead (as soon as possible) as they don't have the time for this on the day they scout. This also means that if they want to be scouts more days in a row, they should have a basic route plan before the first day of scouting. With very responsible scouts cycling is much nicer for the rest of the group!
On the matter of smaller groups or cliques I think things like skill sharing workshops were a good way to strengthen the whole group and get all of the people to interact between each other.
At some point the rota didn't work at all, meaning that some mandatory roles were empty until the last moment and then people had to take them over in a rush. It can always happen: you might have written your name down for carrying a trailer and then feeling too tired to do it, so you ask someone else, and it's perfectly fine! But as I see it, it doesn't really work when it becomes a routine. It became specially tricky with the tail role. Maybe people should decide if they want it to exist, and if so, take collective responsibility for it.
There were also some internal conflicts that weren't happily solved when dealed with (as I see it), and some that didn't even have its needed space. Of course there are always too many things to do and it is never easy to find time and energy for everything... but as it was said some time, emotions and not only practical issues are important!
I agree about everything that has been said above regarding the time schedule. Maybe changing that would have provided us with more time to deal with some of this things?
Finally, I wanted to say that I really enjoyed the whole experience. Despite the problems I mentioned above, we managed to have a great time, share experiences, ideas etc etc (maybe with more workshops would have been even better, I agree;). And personally, I remember it as a great experience, and will try to spread "it" all around!
We should have more evaluation/feedback sessions during the tour.
The long stays in the cities didn't achieve their intended goal: Instead of doing workshops and visiting groups we were just hanging around. 3 days per city is definitely enough!
Future Biketours should be a topic of discussion during the tour, so that it gets clear to the participants that they need to help prepare future Biketours.
We were discussing way too much. We should only discuss topics if there is an actual reason for it. Things should only be discussed if there is a reason for it, such as that some decision needs to be made or someone is unsatisfied with the status quo. If everyone is okay with how things are going, it is a huge waste of time to hear everyone's opinions about what other options we would have over and over again. If we listen to 20 people's opinions about how the schedule could possibly be changed, we will discuss until the tour is over. If no one has a problem with the current schedule, we don't need to discuss it. Same about what donation to give to the projects. We discussed every single time for half an hour about what donation to give to a project, only to decide in the end to stick to the guideline that the working group decided in the beginning of the tour. I don't know how we could have solved this without having really strict facilitation (which would create hierarchies). Everyone was just so eager to give their opinions on everything.
Having a welcome booklet is really really important. It was only finished in the middle of the tour, and a lot of the daily structure would have worked much better if it had existed from the beginning.
Let's have a theme again and plan some actions together with local groups!