Meeting minutes/Wintermeeting 2009

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Here are the notes of the 2009 Wintermeeting for preparation of this summers' biketour.

It was held at the office of Zelenija Akcija in Zagreb. Present were: here Daka, Milan, Greg, Marcha, Daniel and for some part also Pippa and the people from MuM camp!

The first day we discussed the route, made several versions and had long discussions about all possible (dis)advantages. Bero, who will probably join Greg in coordinating the part for Croatia joined us partly in this as well. The second day we spent with all kind of practicalities, which we will go through in a second mail. The organizers of MuM festival joined us shortly on that day as well.

We'd like to ask everyone to go through the BIKETOUR 2009: reflect on it, let us know what you think. If you have concerns, or you want to add ideas and tips that would be great!

Marcha and Daniël

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WM PROPOSAL BIKETOUR 2009:

Theme
Climate Change, Slogan/Name: ??... (see below for some ideas)
Route in short
from Skopje (Macedonia) to a bit after Zagreb (Croatia), crossing actions and places in Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia - and if we manage a pre-action on transport in Belgrade, then in Serbia too. In total it's roughly 1400 km of cycling (See the attached spreadsheet for a better idea of the route)
Time frame
start between 1st-7th of July, end at MUM camp 28th of August, so roughly 2 months of Biketour.
Destination
Mnogo u Malom camp, close to Koprivnice, Croatia.
Process
First proposal of Daka was to ride from Banja Luka (BiH) or Zagreb (Croatia) down to Skopje (MK), from which to take a train (or truck) up to Belgrade (Serbia) and from there further on the bike to the MuM camp in Croatia. Major disadvantage was that this route was way too long (over two months of cycling). As it had to arrive in time at the MuM camp, we had to leave already end of June. Also, the route didn't have a totally logical "story", consisting of bits and pieces (bike-train-bike). We then tried several variants of this route, for example, leaving out the MuM camp to end in Skopje, leaving a little bit of room for enthusiast bikers to catch the train to MuM by them selves, or leaving out Croatia all together, or starting in Banja Luka, going by MN, AL, and MK, taking the train again to Belgrade and then on till the MuM camp, and keep a final action in September in Zagreb, but after long talking and calculation the proposal which you've just read made the most sense. Disadvantage is that we will not cycle through Serbia, that it might still be quite long (we only have a rough route sketch), certainly through Albania and Macedonia, and that Skopje is a difficult starting point, and that after Skopje there are, until Podgorica or Sarajevo no really easy-access places to join. Therefore we want to make Belgrade the meeting point for the 2009 biketour. and take the train to Skopje (see below for why)
  • Focus of the 2009 biketour: Climate change and energy issues in the Southern Balkans, in relation with the coming UN Climate summit in Copenhagen (Kyoto II) in December. In the whole region (inter)national demanding energy projects and industries are rising while national energy strategies are undeveloped and non-transparent and the environmental awareness of governments, companies and public is low.

Ideas we have by now:

  • Pass at least the big cities for public actions (Belgrade, Skopje, Tiranë, Podgorica, Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Zagreb)
  • have actions related to demanding energy projects and industries (Aluminium factory in Montenegro, a very polluting refinery in

Sisak (Croatia)), together with locally active environmental groups and people

  • and plan them as much as possible in advance, in order to have a clear story and actions with impact (hopefully!)
  • present climate change related movie(s) -like e.g. The Age of Stupid - with a debate (invite public/politicians/experts) and perhaps visible action.
  • receive and give DIY workshops related to this years topic (like making solar ovens, your own soya, soap etc)
  • sustainable transport action in Belgrade: as trains in the region don't offer a lot for the transport of bikes, Skopje might be difficult to reach with a bike as well and most BT people would pass Belgrade to get to the start of BT in Skopje- we thought to campaign for this in Serbia. As ecotourism is developing in this region, the railways should facilitate people going around with bikes. We'd work in advance on trying to arrange a full cargo wagon that would transport most peoples bikes from Belgrade to Skopje, in combination with some public biking action in Belgrade as a kick-off of the tour.

The Balkans, like most non-EU countries of Europe, easily can become the dirty energy producers of EU. For a brainstorm on specific issues per country see below (you can add other issues you know of).

  • BT should have a balance between 'actions that matter' and 'a time for pleasure', which means that in one hand we intend to hook up with quite some important issues on the way in a meaningful way (which means plan/prepare ahead in order to can bring a clear story with hopefully some impact. On the other hand we heard that distances, demands, time with duty/responsibilities (in relation to free time) can easily be too stressful and there seems to be always a shortage of time. With the planning of the tour we hope to take the is s that we should look for actions that can have a real impact, that are not half-done.

Two concerns heard that the Biketour can be insufficient activism related or that actions are half-heartedly done. So this year we want to try to join and create actions together with local groups on local environmental - if possible climate and energy related - issues, as much in advance as possible.

Proposed destination for the Biketour: MuM festival

5 days multicultural festival "Mnogo u Malom", or MuM (translated: much in small, or a lot in little). The organizers (a couple + volunteers/friends) own a ranch-like property which they've changed into a camp side named "Sunny village". It's near Jagnjedovec village ("Sunny Village"), which is 8km south of Koprivnice (east of Zagreb). Sunny Village is used in the summer for meetings and camps for children, etc and authentic building ways and environment are respected. The MUM festival last year had around 100 visitors, it's DIY based and has a ecotopia like structure, concerning morning circles, eco awareness and workshops. In 2009 it will be held 28.08 till 02.09.

The Biketour is invited to stay without costs and participate/support their campaign for the maintanance of the natural river-bed of the nearby river Drava, which is said to be the last river in all of Europe to have a natural chanel/route, without human interference.

The people from the camp other years always cycled a beautiful 160 km route from camp up/down the river, which BT people of course could do as well.

2008 website: http://2008mum.blogspot.com/

Slogan - name

We will keep the http://www.ecotopiabiketour.net website this year, as there might be another ecotopia next year. However, we dont intend to use that name a lot. Instead, we were looking for a slogan which sort of covers the theme and the route at once. So we were looking for something with Balkans (which is a touchy name), climate change, biking, well translatable and funky.

So you guessed it... we haven't really succeeded yet, and we can use your suggestion!!

Ideas:

  • Pedal for climate (which is a bit funny when translated)
  • Cycling for climate
  • Cycling for climate tour
  • Cycling to save the climate
  • Cycling for a sustainable climate
  • Turning climate change

Before we set up a doodle for these names, please give us a few better ones to choose from! Think of Balkan unity ride, bread and water tour, Celtic Safari... so were not there yet!

Actions and activities

most of it already mentioned before, but to keep it fresh in mind and invite you to join in:

Focus of the 2009 biketour: Climate change and energy issues in the Southern Balkans, in relation with the coming UN Climate summit in Copenhagen (Kyoto II) in December. The Balkans, like most non-EU countries of Europe, easily can become the dirty energy producers of EU. In the whole region:

  • (inter)national demanding energy projects and industries are rising while national energy strategies are undeveloped and non-transparent,
  • the environmental awareness of governments, companies and public is low
  • there are many possibilities for use of sustainable energy and renewables

Ideas we have by now

In general, it was expressed we want to do cool actions.

  • Point of discussion: there seems to be a tension between the wish to have a meaningful biketour and the wish/need for enjoying the tour as itself, including sightseeing and doing nothing. With planning our daily distances, route, actions and activities we aim to avoid a shallow tour and time lack for other needs..
  • By cooperating with local groups and plan things together way head, we attempt to let some actions be as meaningful as possible
  • besides that there can of course still be spontaneous things happening on the way...
  • Point of discussion: If there is a choice between holding a banner for two press people, or going to the beach - some said to rather go for a swim. As we aim to have quite some experienced and creative activists amongst us, we should be able to make a bit more nasty actions that just holding banners. Also for our own fun! On the other hand, in many region we're going through just the simple act of foreigners holding a banner already could create a shock....

For the same reason we'd like to pass at least the big cities for public actions (Belgrade, Skopje, Tirana, Podgorica, Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Zagreb) - next to beautiful routes through countryside..

  • We definitely like to make actions related to demanding energy projects and industries (like in Montenegro the aluminium factory near Podgorica, or hydro powerplant at Morača canyon, in Croatia a very polluting refinery in Sisak, coal powerplants in Albania, the ever growing highway network of Serbia and Bosnia) - together with locally active environmental groups and people
  • We'd like to receive and give DIY workshops related to this years topic:
    • This can be theoretical ones or practical ones, like making solar ovens, your own soya, soap etc. We could gather information, invite experts and local authorities for discussion, create worksheets and plan in workshops in the places we pass.
      To make this possible and from the Biketour, it could be great if participants of the biketour that have certain knowledge or skills on some climate/DIY topic could contact us in advance so we can translate worksheets and get material to the place where we'd like to give and have workshops. In order to have materials we'd need to plan it ahead. Materials can either be recycled (which better to know in advance too), for others we can ask funding if we know/plan it ahead.
    • For workshops, possibility to liaise with SCI summer voluntary camps which are in the region, which might makes some project related to BT theme of climate change and energy. Further more finding local energy experts or teachers, organised by local NGOs.
  • Besides actions, we can have the possibility to bring along some present climate related films (like The Age of Stupid) and have screenings along the road, with a debate (invite public/politicians/experts) and perhaps visible action. We also talked about the possibility to bring our own movie teater (beamer), see topic of materials for more info. The screenings could be either co-organised with regional organisers, or self-organised by ourselves. This then needs a BT coordinator for unplanned screenings, as majority for BT ppl after a day of cycling would probably like to be without commitments.
  • Proposal is to more or less aim for 2 film-screenings (see below), 2 actions and 1 workshop per country, planned ahead.
  • point of discussion: Workshops etc need to be planned in advance for the BT to be prepaired, and for the participants to be aware that they have to be ready and attentive whenever a workshop is being held (as opposed to when a local enthusiast NGO decides suddenly to hold a long talk on a specific topic, and BT participants are not ready or up for it, even get annoyed and wonder away)
  • BT Kick-off action on sustainable transport action in Belgrade:
    as trains in the region don't offer a lot for the transport of bikes, Skopje might be difficult to reach with a bike as well and most BT people would pass Belgrade to get to the start of BT in Skopje- we thought to campaign for this in Serbia. As eco tourism is developing in this region, the railways should facilitate people going around with bikes. We'd work in advance on trying to arrange a full cargo wagon that would transport most peoples bikes from Belgrade to Skopje, in combination with some public biking action in Belgrade as a kick-off of the tour.

More practical, Milan is organising a bike trip just before the start of the biketour, so he too is investigating this possibility, from which experience we then can learn. For making this a successful kick-off we need aid from Belgrade co-organisers.

  • On arriving at the MuM festival, which is situated at the Drava river. Drava is said to be the last river in Europe which has a natural basin, so still without human interference. There are some plans to build an waste incinerator near the site, and to meddle with hydro dams. The people from the camp invite us to brainstorm on making an action on that. There is a beautiful 160 km route from camp up/down the river, which BT people could do. Every year there are 3 countries chosen as a theme. This year it will be Iceland, Austria and Macedonia.

National coordinators*

...Although wouldn't it be nicer to change this term for 'Regional Coordinator' ?? as we don't like to think in borders and in big countries it would be better to split up the area in different regions anyway..

We have regional coordinators for Bosnia and Croatia; Greg (aided by Bero) for HR and Daka for BiH. For Macedonia there are two NGOs we know, and WM proposed first try to cooperate with Ekosvest, and if that doesn't work out, contact Proaktiv.

For Montenegro and Albania we don't have a clear possibility for contacts although some people have some ideas. We therefore need to call upon all the Biketour and BT-org list enthusiasts to think if they know candidates for RCs in MNE, AL or FYROM :) - and suggest

One additional small thing that would probably be done by the RC, is to find out what are the registration requirements for foreigners and actions, and whether bureaucracy can be circumvented so that we can focus on riding our bikes. In municipalities in Serbia and Montenegro for example, foreigners officially are obliged to register with the local authorities within 48 hours of their arrival

)* = the minutes were written some weeks ago, by now we are in contact with several enthusiastic people from Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro - but nothing concrete yet... to be continued.

Materials

trailers

WCN in Prague had an old bike trailer available to transport a small child (or 2?). Greg took it to Zagreb, and if we need it for BT it's there. AIt's a bit heavy and old, but could be useful if a young parent wants to join the tour - then it would have to be transported to either Belgrade or directly to Skopjes (someone??). Milan knows about a baby trailer in Belgrade (from normal shop or unique chance/2nd hand?) for 22.000,- dinars or aproximately 230,- euro. It's made of light weight aluminum tubes and has 20" wheels. Perhaps to be considered for future BT's?

For the transport of food & materials there are still 2 trailors: one is with Milan in Belgrade who has space for storage, the other is still at the Zelena Akcija office in Zagreb, and needs to be transported to Belgrade as well (anyone..?). We will probably need the trailers from Belgrade onwards.

A few episodes ago it was nice to have the banners on the trailers, and it was suggested to do that again this year for publicity reasons/pointing out this years theme

Milan will investigate if it is possible to build an energy-trailer, with all kinds of renewable technologies (solar, ....) to provide the biketour with energy, and as a demonstration project during biketour. The energy would be used for the actions (sound installation? Beamer?) and media (writing of press releases, video editing, etc)

media

If we want to make a fashionable blog with eg. videos, regularly updated, we need funding for video camera, small laptop(-usage), dialling to internet with mobiles at remote places, etc... We can also see if there are participants who would like to bring such equipment and have them available for the tour – let us know if you'd have...

beamer?

If we want to have a film reel on the road (and not just organized in advance at some places), it was suggested to perhaps get a BT beamer. Nowadays there seem to be quite reliable small beamers, around 400 euro in price, that we could use who work on led lamps, which make a reasonable sized screen, and which actually could survive the biketour. We could investigate if this is a possible option, and then also fund-raise.... (Does anyone has experience? Tips?)

workshop materials

Please let us know if you have a great DIY workshop related to climate issues to give, so we can organise something and seek materials (see further on topic of activities)

New pots & cooking materials

We need to buy pots and pans for the biketour in Belgrade or otherwise Skopje (when we start biking)

Medical aid

Medical – we need to ask participants to bring first aid kits, and inventory if there will be a participant with first aid skills.

Bikes and bike tools

Participants have to bring bike lights (esp. in Albania roads are often bad and unlighted).

We might want to fundraise for a small bicycle grand, to be able to provide people who don't have a decent bike to come along with us, but we didn't reach agreement on how such a grant would function. Should BT arrange some extra bikes at the starting point? And if so, what to do with bikes after, considering transport costs to next years BT and storage? How would you offer this?

Small discussion on bike repair equipment. On one hand, participants should bring a basic set, as well, but biketour might provide with more specialized tools. Disadvantage of common goods is that then no-one would feel responsible of making sure the tools will stay good, or actually we have no guarantee that there's people who would know how to use the tools, so that might be effort wasted :(

Communication: publicity & website

Ideas on publicity materials

  • Flyers (or A5/A6 booklets) to promote (the ideas behind) biketour to people in the region, can be useful for RC talking with media and authorities, to make a call out in region and during tour.
  • Same on theme (Copenhagen debate and related issues of climate change in the region)
  • stickers for biketour or climate change – looks nice, but for what?
  • Tshirts (which kind of tells theme and route)
  • decorated trailers and energy trailer

Website

It is important that as soon as possible there is at least brief information about the 2009 biketour on the ecotopiabiketour.net website. If the proposal from the WM on the route will be accepted, we shall ask Joao to enable us to put it in general terms on the website..

We need to make sure Meinhard gets paid for hosting the domain (both 2008 & 2009) and Joao for helping out in 2008

Point of discussion: Wiki vs Website: The website right now seems to be a mixture of both internal and external communication, though we thought it to be our main tool for communicating with people not yet involved in the BT. The wiki, the mailing list, google documents etc, are all very nice, but don't need a prominent place on the website. Marcha and Daniël will analyse it a bit further and will come with a proposal on functions/ content. Last year everyone really liked the twitter thing, so we should see if we can include something similar (blog posting by sms) again.

During the biketour, we would like to make a sort of blog, to have everyday a little piece on where we are – this than also would be an additional responsibility during the cycling - what we did, maybe some photos, and possible some video footage. We might want to apply for some extra funding to be able to make outreach on the web more challenging.

The proposal is to design a new site, like a relatively easy to understand website, with some static pages with background on the biketour, the history, the ecorates, and the things where BT stands for, and then to blog when we are on the road. Daniël has experience in making websites so he can make a proposal for a design, based on the current site and wordpress.

The wiki is now locked because of spam issues, but Daniel and Marcha will have contact with Meinhard and Bata to get it working again, and use it for BT 09 prep (already in progress...).

Finance, funds

There are quite some opportunities to ask for grants and/or funds at (west european) national embassies. However there might be some concern of biketour applying to money with national governments. On the other hand, there is no big objection from the int. coordinator being financed through the EU EVS programme, so at the WM we didn't see a big objection against money of countries.

But it would be nice if, besides applying for funds, participants of the biketour could hold benefits in their countries, both to spread the word (come along!), spread the message (peddling against the heat!) and to collect money for making biketour even a bigger success.

Things we now think we need money for are

  • Reimbursements for regional coordinators (actual costs and perhaps a voluntary fee)
  • Travelling and other organizing costs for international organisers
  • money for actions, workshops, possibly the portable beamer for screenings
  • transportation costs of equipment (trailers)
  • basic on the road equipment for BT: cooking material (new pots, some tools, herbs, etc), medical kit and some bike tools
  • BT publicity material: tshirts and printing ink, stickers, BT booklet
  • communication costs: prepaid gsm cards for contact & internet, perhaps a videocamera?
  • a bikefund for general biking expenses on the road – can be used as solidarity fund for people who cant afford expensive repairs or bike

Possible sources of funding are

  • Participants' fee in ecos
  • Inno (WWF)
  • Xplore (Dutch ministry of foreign affair)
  • benefit concert held by biketour participants at home (please tell us if you'd like to organise such a thing in your town!)
  • Dutch actions funds like XminY, Zwart zaad, Alert...
  • National embassies
  • sponsering of material by “sustainable” companies (bike brands, solar penal producers)

....

please tell when you are really not in favour of a certain funder/funding way..

please tell if you'd like to fund raise by yourself in your home town by organizing some benefit..

Other...

We had a brief discussion on if we could allow or deny people who came flying to participate to the biketour, and then from where people could or couldn't. We didn't reach a conclusion on this, but Daka volunteered to write a proposal which then can be discussed on the BT-org list.

(conclusion from discussion ;( on list; to add a sentence on the website to refrain from unsustainable travelling,
and to have a further discussion during BT 2009)

Planning

2nd wk March: theme & route confirmed by org list

3rd wk March: general plan for BT 2009 published on website

4th wk March: possibilities of fundraising are clear

2nd wk April: RC's found & consulted on rough plans

1st wk May: call out to join BT (by website, mailinglists, flyers distributed by RC in region)

1st of June: registration deadline for joining Biketour

3rd week June: see if train transport works out, otherwise advice participants on other transport to Skopje

1st days of July: start of biketour – hopefully from Beograd train station!