Meeting minutes/Felt the heat

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Arriving at MuM
Minutes of evaluation meeting Biketour 2009, held on 29th of August 2009 in Jagnjedovec at the MuM festival.

Present: Nils (Sweden), Nils (Ukraine), Andrea, Marcha (IC, notes), Barkan, Efrat, Meinhard, Moritz, Milan, Karl, Daniël (IC), Janja, João, Isabella, Yolanda, Greg (NC), Laura, Bérengère

Finances

Overview BT finances (15-09-2009)
//BT09 expenses:
€ 830,99 preparation BT
€ 647,54 action and visa (€ 218.04 actions and € 429,50 visa costs)
€ 2493,24 other expenses during Biketour (food, accommodation, BT booklets and maps, etc for participants)
------------------------------------------   +
€ 3971,77

visa reimbursement may get slightly more due to yet unknown transaction costs

we still may make some organisational costs in the finishing and cleaning up of BT2009

//BT09 income:
€ 1350 donations for actions and visa (of which 250 can not be used for visa)
€ 107,23 payment for t shirts and bags (production expenses are part of preparation BT) 
€ 3121,94 payed participation fee (inc. small gift amount of around € 20)
€ 757,04 leftover BT2008
--------------------------------------------  +
€ 5336,21
€ 250 send back to Alert fund
--------------------------------------------  -
€ 5086,21
  • an additional € 400 action donation was promised by Zwart Zaad, but not payed. I therefor wrote them a proposal not to send it anymore, and leave possibilities open for next year
  • participation fee was set on € 4,-/day, with no differentiation of income unless you wanted to pay more/less then that.
  • half of leftover money from BT2008 was meant for the wintermeeting, for which we spend € 209,- (so less)
  • all money, minus around € 160 (with Daniël) is stored at Marchas bank account
//If you analyse it:
  • total income minus current total expenses = € 1114,44 maximum left over from BT09
  • All visa costs of participants from the Ukraine have been reimbursed
  • As (€ 1350 - € 647,54) € 702,46 is left from action/visa donations, we have written all involved groups a mail that they can get a fair share of the donation back if they wish. The total € 250 donation of Alert fund is already paid back, as they would not cover visa and requested more paper works. This leaves us with min. 0 and maximum € 452,46 action budget for next edition. We only now after reply of the groups.
  • we wanted to save about € 800 as a start budget for BT2010 next year, which is partly gathered like we agreed on with additional participation fee (€ 3121,94 - € 2493,24 = € 628.07)
  • Preparation costs and possible additional organisational costs (will not be so much, say €50) are covered by the leftover of BT2008 and the income of t shirts and bags (as production expenses are also part of preparation budget)

For who wants a precise overview, you can ask for the document by mail

Final result

The final result for BT 2009 is € 988 (this includes savings of 2008 and the €25 Pablo gained with the spanish benefit). Marcha transferred this amount in January 2010 to EYFA's bankaccount.

In principle half of it is for BT preparation (eg trqveling costs), other half for BT itself. New BT coordinator has to allocate this funding.

follow up:

  • Marcha will write the donors an email with the proposal
  • If a reliable someone has a (neutral) bank account on which we can store the money for next BT edition, please let us know. We are also asking Eyfa at the moment
Eyfa already agreed to save the money for next year -- Eiland 11:16, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Greg had the idea for next year to do something special for the 20th edition of biketour (for example publish an anniversary booklet). For such a project organisers (int. coordinator or others) should look for special funding
  • For the coming ICs: apply funds minimum 2, preferably 3 months ahead (even if activities are unclear, make something up)
  • ICs spend a lot of time during preparation of BT on a very ambitious project plan, with activities that would costs lots of preparation and money. We tried to get high funding for it (Matra-Kap, INNO and others) which we didn't get on the end (reasons MatraKap: no funds left, others: same or too late) - but looking back at it, we both find it's better we didn't get it, as the BT (for it's form and short preparation time) would not have the capacity to full-fill it's promises. Big funding also requests lots of work on reporting and administration.

Route, cycling pace, etc

In general people were very satisfied with the route the tour, landscape/scenery, daily distances (average 50km, occasionally less or up to 100 on flat road) and route conditions.

Coordination: In Macedonia we had 2 great route coordinators, whose work and choice is very appreciated so that it is a pity that one of them seemed fed up with the group by the end of the tour. Albania and partly Montenegro (as Milos who gave some advise wasn't actually there during the tour) we managed to make and find the way and accommodation by ourselves. This worked out quite well and was adventurous. Routes in BiH and Croatia were worked out well by Daka and Greg/Bero (NCs).

In Macedonia and Albania, and once in Bosnia, we had some dirt roads with harder conditions, but they brought us also through the nicer scenery, and gave some nice challenge too.

Quite some people had lack of sleep: arriving late meant eating (and circles) late too, together with waking up early. And through slow group processes, we hardly managed to avoid the hotest part of the day (siesta cycling), which made the trip heavy at times. In Albania, and in some parts of the route where there were more risks (traffic, getting lost), we cycled together as a group. The people at front waited every few kms. In general we tried to keep in mind who was behind you and try to have the last person never cycle alone. This did not always work out (Isabel). One suggestion was to daily have someone volunteer to be the last one who takes care that everyone is there and all right.

Food and Accommodation

Not everyone liked the amount of time spend on (discussions about) food, but it's hard to please everyone if it comes to eating habits/needs (variety and times per day, vegan or cycling nutritious, etc)

We daily consumed beverages etc in bars, partly as a result of not making hot drinks in the morning ourselves and leaving coffee out of the shared BT-diet ;-). We were also using their space for preparing our breakfast or lunch with our own products. Though bar-owners never seem to mind, it was a bit consume-minded and for some of us inappropriate.

Wild camping was adventurous, went without trouble and we often ended up in a nice spot.

Some of the arranged accommodation (ex-yugo school building in Teovo, fortress garden in Travnik, Lonjsko Polje camp spot and Medika squat in Zagreb) were very, very nice.

Activities: workshops and actions

workshops

summary: On the road we had workshops on Climate Change & Policy (Ondrej), Isreali-Palestinian Conflict (Yarden), general info on ex-Yugoslavia/the area (Janja, Isabel), Balkan war conflict (Daka, Isabel, Janja), relation between mafia and agriculture in Italy (Andrea), bike repair/- maintenance (Nils Ukraine), making stencils (Lily, João), making nettle rope (Babsi), making tetrapak wallets (Babsi), making beercan-stove (João, Barkan), making willow baskets (Andrea), local language (Isabel, Janja) - and just learned from eachother by cooking, camping and traveling together.

For some people there were not enough workshops to follow. This depends on the input of participants though and the available time we make free for it. Most participants found we had a lot of workshops in between ourselves this year though. People appreciated the diy workshops a lot, and the element to learn from each other, and would like to do even more of it in next BT editions

Several people wished to have more days of non-cycling arranged for workshops and for action preparation. Although ICs tried to plan a cycle of 4 days in a row cycling (50km/day) + 1 day rest + 1 day for action (as evaluation of BT08 recommended), we didn't stick to that: a nicer camp spot a few kms further, a certain date for an action or the distances between 2 places of action didn't allow it. Participants sometimes regreted to still have to move campspot or cycle a bit on a restnigday. Perhaps workshops should have their own days too.

activities with local groups

Climax of action in Zagreb
Summary: Although more minimalistic then planned, we had a transport action in Belgrade with the 3 involved groups. In Macedonia not any of the actions (4) that were planned with local organisers in advance, finally happened, although we had a national coordinator there. In Albania we had activities in Elbasan, Durrës, Tirana and info on the Green Agenda Project in Prezë. The ones planned in Kruje and Shkoder didn't take place. In Montenegro we finally did do an action on sustainable transport in Podgorica, but lacking a national coordinator, nothing more. Contact with groups in Nikšič, Rijeka-Crnojevica, Žabljak didn't lead to any activity. In Bonsia-Herzegovina we had activities as planned with local groups in Zenica, Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Omarska, and in Croatia as planned with groups in Sisak, Vukomeric, Zagreb, Bjelovar, Koprivnica . In Croatia we additionally also got informed about the Lonjsko Polje Natural Reserve by the local host.

During the preparation of biketour the Marcha and Daniël (ICs) put a lot of effort in establishing and follow up contact with local groups. This lead to big plans and goals of action and collaborations, which lead to a (too) ambitious project plan in which we also invested quite some time to find funding. From the activities mentioned in it, part took place as planned, part was canceled (eg Macedonia) and other realized in a minimised version (eg Belgrade's Critical Mass). Reason is to be found in unclear communication and low capacity (sometimes low motivation) on local group side, unexperienced/wrong expectations on both sides. For other editions we should also be realistic in what biketour CAN achieve in its form as it is

The collaboration with new groups stressed the importance of having at least national coordinators (and in less extend other organisers) that are experienced with the Biketour, so that expectations are not unrealistic, and work can be done much efficient. On the other hand we would not have gone through Albania or Macedonia if we had stick rigidly to this criteria. Some of the activities were very effective, like Zelena Akcijas media-action in Zagreb on cleaner National Energy Plans Movie "Home" was found too long by some to promote something

Besides joined actions there was very well media coverage in BiH and Croatia.

Several people stress that BT participants should either get involved more into the activities (preparation time & energy needed), or that we should just stick to what we are good at: being an eyecatcher (João: circus for the media)

In some cases (eg Belgrade) the participation with BT also led to new collaborations between local groups.

At least having one info evening per country or region about history, culture, people, language etc, is very much appreciated by most participants. Some were missing time (or organised activities) to see around/experience the place and culture. Understanding of place and people was often missed, especially in Albania

In the beginning of tour we didn't have flyers about the biketour ready, to hand out to people on the way. It was nice though to make them together with participants. Greg and Nizam made a great job on the graphics.

Participation & group process

From the 47 participants during this Biketour, it was the first time for 29 of us. 7 of us did the entire or most of the trip, on average people joined the Biketour for 16 days.

Everyone regrets that almost nobody from the region was participating this Biketour (only 3 from Croatia + NCs) despite the call outs. Especially in Albania where non of us spoke the language or was familiar, it was a big miss. Perhaps it takes a bit more effort to get young people in joining here then the publicity we made (mostly by emails by contacts network, 1 info evening in Banja Luka). People further on might have found it too expensive.

Like every BT, not every participant likes (to be involved in) the circles and consensus based decision making process which are pretty time consuming and often inefficient. But in general terms people were satisfied. Some are taking the techniques home to try them out over there. There was a remark the circles went more efficient then in some other years. Some missed arranged tasks and structure by organisers so that this didn't need to be done as a group process. But that is what BT is about.

Also that there were no mayor conflicts between participants this year - so in general fine (or a lack of 'extreme characters?' ;-b) Daniël put the remark that BT is a good exercise in lowering down/ being flexible with expectations, as most things go different then planned or foreseen. Or as Andrea put it: you have 2 phases 1) program, 2) reality

Moritz made the remark that we were moving around a bit too much on individual base, and was missing doing things together as a group. Also Janja stressed missing time to talk with people as a group (for which free time, so extra resting days for example is needed)

Several people mentioned that within a longer period joining the tour, it's nice to take some break(s) of the group (and have exclusively time for yourself ;-0)

BT09 Evaluation by participants (or some remarks)

photo's and other

Marcha will make a selection out of the collected BT photos, put it on the server to download by participants and make a few dvds meant as promotion material for coming BTs

trailers and general biketour supply (info for next ICs):

The 2 trailers (plus a 2-5y child trailer?) are stored in Zelena Akcija's office in Zagreb now, together with the leftover of general BT equipment. When the new starting point or host organisation for BT2010 is clear, they can be send to there, or someone perhaps can bring them

Moritz would have a regular purpose for the trailers in Mainz this year, but then they would have to be send to him and he would have to take care of them and transport (costs). If so, we hear it through the list.

There was a discussion not to have the trailers for general BTsupply (normally 1 for food and 1 for general stuff) with us on biketour, but just divide the load over bikes of participants.

Pro trailer: can be used for other stuff on the way, is an attractive picture for media/actions, general stuff stay together and doesn't get lost (which is the case if carried by individual participants),

Against trailer: more difficult to move, load carried by 2 participants per day which can be hard if road conditions are bad/much uphill.

Biketools are useful but likely there are a view participants who have specialised tools with them - so it's not needed to have general biketools (that can get lost, etc)

There is a medical kit, see what's still valid and add what you think is needed. If the budget leaves space for it, ONE general BIODEGRADABLE shampoo, toothpaste and dishwash and a big handsoap is recommended to buy (and in a lot of countries those biodegradable products are hard to find). One general high factor sun-cream can be good too.

There is only 1 big pot (22liters) left from last years biketour. Needed additionally is a thinner metal pot one size smaller, and a small pot (2 liters or so) could be handy too for coffee and sauces

A big plastic box that wouldnt break easily, can be usefull to cary food supplies like rise, coffee, teas, etc Smaller boxes are quickly recycled while traveling from the packaging of daily food, so not needed to buy

Wooden cutting boards that we bought were too heavy, and finally left out of the supply- take 2 plastic ones instead

Same for the knives: 2 sharp big knives, 1 small and a bread-knife will do, together with a big soup spoon, 2 large wooden spoons, perhaps a flat grinder (rasp). Check if they are still with the trailers

internet

Internet: it's still http://www.ecotopiabiketour.net. If we abandon the connection with Ecotopia, then the title might change

Daniël changed the system (wordpress) which makes it easier for people to maintain and upload by themselves, Meinhard continues hosting us at his sever.

And to end the evaluation of BT2009 with a line of Greg (though from other BTers repeatedly came the same sound): "Listening to all mentioned in the evaluation and looking with a bird eye onto what was happening to the weeks I joined: it's exactly the same stories as last years.. haha!"

Next BT edition: BT2010, 20th anniversary

general remarks

From different angles most of us are in favour to have longer periods (2-3 or more days in a row) of non-cycling planned: for workshops, preparing actions, tourism sightseeing and relax.

Quite some people had interest in visiting ecovillages and learn from the techniques used there, in combination with learning from each other (workshops) and would like enough possibilities for that in next tour.

Janja suggested to have a week of workshops and activities before the actual cycling starts, so we can prepare for actions and carry the more activistic spirit on during the tour. Contra argument could be that (other) people will then join later and miss it. Andrea is interested to help coordinating in case BT will cycle through Italy

Baltic states were favourite countries for route in BT08 evaluation, perhaps it can be for BT2010?

destination and route options

  1. ¿Ecotopia?, destination: 1-21 August, Fläming region, east Germany
    For information: http://ecotopia.torzumflaeming.de and http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=53071439438 * Not anymore organised by eyfa but by old-eyfa members, Zeg connected people and others * in a place that is planned to become a ecovillage, 60km from Berlin * connected with the Eurovelo R1 cycling route * could fit with idea of ecovillage plan or cycling wish through Baltic states * no one of participants during evaluation had strong objections against it * though it's likely to be again more like a cultural and ecologic festival then an activistic gathering.
    required: one of us that get on their list and informs us on the list on relevant information
  2. Climate action camp (no information yet)
    There will be many climate camps in Europe, but possibly information and confirmation comes rather late for BT, to decide location, route and organise. Eyfa is planning a climate camp in Catalonia, and will send information about it on the list
    required: someone that can give a summary of climate/environment action camps in Europe this summer, and for other related events (like the Carfree Conference in York 28 June-1st of July)
  3. have an ecovillage tour (can be combined with camp), choosing for example 3 very different communities during the tour to learn from. Moritz will look for good options in Germany and inform us by the list
  4. Greg: Make the project more serious as it's the 20th anniversary of BT. One proposal for that is a nuke power plant tour, starting in Chernobyl (where BT started in 1st edition), and pass Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia and Poland. Strong NCss and ICss needed for that. Additionally he is interested to make a product to stipulate the strength of BT as a 20 years ongoing grassroot project. Greg can bring this proposals more detailed over the list

follow up

Proposals should be worked on and send over the list asap, end of October deadline to decide on destination

Wintermeeting in January latest - perhaps in Ecotopia? Other meeting locations mentioned were UN Climate negotiation in Barcelona (but already at 2-6th of November), something in November in Prague, and the COP15 in Copenhagen (mid December)