The international coordinator is the key person of biketour organising. he/she is like the spider on the information net, he/she has the overview, knows what is going on where, pulls the ropes to make things happen. He/she is not the one to decide everything, decisions are taken by the organising bt community on meetings or on-line, but he/she is the one to make sure, that those decisions and the distributed tasks are being done, as he/she has to carry the load of responsibility. He/she has to find people to do things (or people to find people ...), as all left-over tasks will be left to him/her. The better he/she manages to delegate, the smaller his/her work load will be in the end, and be sure it will be big anyways, as its hard to realise all the nice ideas coming up.
The tasks of an International Coordinator (IC) might include:
- shaping the project
- finding national and local coordinators, places of interest, campaigns 2 join, possible actions
- work on the information flow in the project
- (international) press
- maintaining the bt-archive
- guiding participants during the tour
- help find international co-ordinator for the next year, see EVS Call out
The information below will give you the broad picture. Besides there are checklists, which help you to keep the overview and not to forget anything:
- Checklist for international organisers
- Checklist for national/local organisers
- Checklist for coordination of route and sleeping places
shaping the project
this should not be done by you, but in the first meeting after biketour. here we will talk about how the next year could look like, define the first rough route etc. take your inspiration from here and from the following meetings, when the face of this year will slowly unveil.
first you will have to find national organisers for a country we are going to pass. send out a mass email to all the known networks - find some on our Mailing list. ask friends and friendly groups for contacts and contact those via phone. invite people to the next meeting, e.g. the wintermeeting in january/february. try to have one national coordinator for every country after the winter meeting or continue searching.
Experienced bt-participants would be the best option, but you will have some enthusiastic new people on board as well. You need to take your time to introduce to them the bt-spirit. Tell them what it is all about and what is expected from them. They decide about the face of bt in their country, trust their ideas.
They will have to search for local organizers, sleeping places and action coordinators in their country, but you might be a great help, because international contacts often jump over borders in the national scene. the experienced bt-participants might as well have good contacts, ask on the list and specific people personally.
try to have a team of national organisers and to know them. people stop working for various reasons, because their life is taking a different route and needs their attention or because they did promise too much. it is good to have several people to talk to in case someone does not answer and you do not know what is going on.
"in 2005 we had nobody in Romania except radu, whom we reached via email and who is highly experienced in organising bike tours, he even claimed to have helped with a former bt in RO. Well, he just did not do his job. There was quite a bit of miscommunication involved and it seems to be a pattern in eastern europe, that you tend to get people via mail, who know a lot and promise much but then do not do their things. In Ukraine 2003 it was the same. Those persons then block interested local organisers. So you have to encourage them now."
It is really difficult to find trustworthy, dedicated, motivated organisers of any kind. Start as early as possible and as massive as possible with searching for help! Don't make the mistake not to! It's fairly difficult to organize anything big without a good team.
To have money is very nice, but there is a hell lot of work connected to it. I Will not write a fundraising guide here. Be sure, that bt can survive on a 15 ecorate participation fee and nothing more to finance it. But you might have low quality food and no money to make meetings while organising. You can ask the EU or other funders like (inter)national foundations, embassies, local, regional or national governments, the biketour is a very appealing project. You can ask bt-people to do do concerts or other fundraising activities. Ask your parents or rich people you know.
Usefull funds might be: Haëlla, INNO (WWF), Matra-KAP (Dutch embassies), X-Y, Alert, Zwarte Zaad, fop.ba.
See the Fundraising page for more info from previous years!
work on the information flow
you will have to deal with the different national organiser teams, the international people helping, wcn, eyfa, interested subjects who want to participate or offer a sleeping place or a screening(?) organise next year.
You have to find your way to structure and store the information you create or receive so that you can always find what you need in no time. You need to provide all necessary and possible information on the web so that you can answer questions by sending people a link to the online text with the answer. This really saves you a lot of time and encourages people to read the information better.
try to make all information easy accessible on the web for your fellow organisers or interested groups, so that they do not have to ask you personally, but can find it themselves. people will put their things on the net as they think - you can put it in some kind of order for everyone easy to understand.
keep in touch with your fellow organisers, let them know, what your are doing and ask them, where they stand. phone them regularly! phoning is not work, its fun. find out, where they need help, and try to help them/ organise some help for them.
"2005 we had skype for the first time, and that was just great. i had 2-hour calls to banja luka and was totally informed. inspirations flowered in these calls, and in the end the bosnian part was the best organised that year."
keep the information flowing !
"2004 we had quite a sophisticated infrastructure on the web - but one thing is clear: personal communication is always better ! meet people, when you can, or phone them - do not rely too much on email. people tend to ignore them, or misunderstand you. info is only flowing into one direction, email are seldom inspiring."
Make sure to have several e-mails prepared in case anybody replies to your call for help. This means that you have several different emails, explaining what will be the exact task for each replying person.
and again : phoning and meeting people is much better than emails. it is more easy to spread emails far, but many people only respond to them, when thy feel really appealed or involved. but if you ask someone personally he will answer, you can ask questions resulting from his answers, he will feel more involved ...
keep the visa situation in mind. visa can be sooo tricky, reserve them a lot of space in your timetable. find out about visa rules and harass people from affected countries to register early. you will need invitations from the tour countries, maybe even more papers, the visa might have to be applied for and picked up personally at an embassy for away. but maybe there is some funding to pay visa costs? Read more about (help with) visa
before the tour facilitate people to write articles for their local scene magazine.
for the tour coordinate an international press release, which can be translated into the local languages and adapted to local customs. it would be nice to have one person per country who can not join the tour but can serve a contact point for the media, who can be asked to send out press release and photos, answer questions etc.
as soon as the rough route is know make some email outreach - invite people from eyfa, wcn and other networks ->Mailing_list. inspire people to write articles for their local magazines. during the tour you should have at least a flyer in the local language, translated from a common English version. but poster, sticker and an exhibition fixed to the trailers are also very nice to have. think of a t-shirt, and put the web address on all material you produce. keep the website up to date
maintaining the archive
use the wiki to archive every text you produce, someday someone can use it as inspiration or not to write the same thing again. keep it up to date and in good structure. during the tour collect everything you can get: receipts, pictures, articles ...
we do have the idea, that during the tour there are no organisers anymore, everyone helps etc. but you are a high profile member of the bt community, have more info and will be addressed by participants to answer questions and help out somehow. it is your decision how far you wanna let that get, but be aware that it will not be easy to escape.
bt is a low cost project which can run on very basic things - basically a route. but it is the nicer, the more facilities we do have. so do your best to get a good tour together, but do not fear holes in the schedule, trust in bt ability to organise things on the spot. do not stress yourself too much to get a perfect tour, leave space for creativity.