Meeting minutes/Zagreb 15/16 October 2005

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Minutes of BT meeting, Zagreb 15/16 October 2005

Evaluation of BT 2005 organisation

Bosnia

  • great media coverage
  • followed theme really well and had enough actions
  • co-ordination with Serbian border really good
  • starting camp didn't really do what it was supposed to
  • incidents of certain people's behaviour made it really stressful to be the national co-ordinator

Action points:

  • make it clearer in the application form, on the website and in the BT book (if there is one) which kinds of behaviour are unacceptable on biketour, extending the current emphasis on discriminatory behaviour to other forms of behaviour which may be socially or legally unacceptable. Ultimately the group takes the decisions about what is or is not acceptable but we may remind participants to be sensitive to the opinions of the local organisers, who may have to deal with resulting problems, and the reputation of the biketour. Include the point that those whose behaviour is decided to be unacceptable by the group may be asked to leave BT.
  • appoint a person whose task it is to integrate new people to the BT

Serbia

  • great logistics
  • road signs worked and maps always available, with useful instructions
  • mostly good group
  • not as much support as there could have been from other Serbians/groups, not enough Serbians taking part
  • police registration a pain
  • would have been good to have more actions (related to support from other groups) and to emphasise the theme better
  • road conditions sometimes frustrating but then there may not be any better ones, also route had to be cut down because of Romanian needs for more days, which made some feel a little rushed.

Action points:

  • Most of the negative points were beyond the control of the national co-ordinator, but for next year we could try to have a theme that fits all the countries better rather than only one to enable more actions on the theme.

Romania

  • Unexpected situations bring out the best in people, and it was more of an adventure than other parts of the BT
  • Spontaneous action (in Sighisoara?) was good
  • Communication with co-ordinators didn’t go well. Partly due to Jan becoming de facto international co-ordinator without having the time to do it
  • A few people worked really hard to find accommodation every night and after some great successes people became too used to high standards
  • Getting up late got a bit too much
  • It wasn’t possible to make informed choices about alternative routes without local organisers present
  • when all the BT’s energy goes into finding sleeping places there isn’t much time or energy for actions, and the aim of supporting local groups goes out of the window.
  • Iasi was well organised but the critical mass was not very pleasant because of too few people trying to fill up too much space and blocking public transport instead of cars

Action points:

  • Need to have much better communication with organisers beforehand and be more careful to re-iterate points rather than assuming they have been understood.
  • If we don’t have a clear national co-ordinator for some reason, try to at least get some regions really well organised with local guides
  • If the international co-ordinator cannot do the work any longer, try to share the work around more effectively and share ideas about what needs to be done.

Moldova

  • sleeping places easy to organise because of former children’s camps
  • well organised route and sleeping places
  • bad roads – nothing we can do
  • due to lack of co-ordination with Romanian part, the border crossing took ages and the group was late to an appointment with a mayor
  • big group of Moldovans who didn’t integrate at all due to language and other reasons, brought their own food etc.
  • not many group activities to help this situation, such as games, workshops etc
  • police escort frustrating
  • people too demanding of the organiser – the police escort was not Alex’s fault!

Action points:

  • appoint person to welcome new participants
  • appoint a group cohesion person to initiate activities
  • appoint a workshops co-ordinator
  • appoint an internal communication organiser, with a board for tasks that the organiser takes care of
General:

Action points:

  • Tiho and Milan please add comments on the wiki about how to be a national co-ordinator
  • Make sure we meet the November deadline for funding to avoid all the confusion and boring discussions from this year
Route:

First we had a discussion about the idea of having part of the BT before Ecotopia and part after. The advantages were felt to be that BT wouldn’t have to start as early as this year, while students were still having exams, and that lots of people cycle afterwards anyway, so why not continue with the theme and consensus decision-making etc, and see how it goes to make biketour stand alone, incorporating ecotopia but not limited by it. Concerns raised were that it would fade out gradually and might look quite pathetic by the end unless there was a coherent second goal after ecotopia. Also it was not clear that people would want to have such a long break either at or near ecotopia in the middle. A more general concern was raised that the longer the BT is, the fewer people can take part in all of it and feel really part of it, particularly those with visa and money issues.

Conclusion: Consensus was reached on implementing the following idea, with two stand-asides: 4 weeks of BT --> two weeks ecotopia (with option of escape for those who don’t want to spend two weeks there, for example to conference in Hungary) --> a few more weeks, and then a formal end to the tour with some action or event to make a strong ending.

We then split up and wrote our comments about individual countries on pieces of paper, together with our comments about the general idea of going north to south or south to north. The main justification for going from south to north was that most people on the mailing list had indicated a preference for the southern route. However, in the end it was decided that going from north to south had more advantages: avoiding the height of the tourist season in the south, avoiding the very hottest time in the south, and avoiding starting to get colder in the north. There was a discussion about which countries to include. There wasn’t that much choice in the end, apart from some discussion about Hungary vs Austria and the main factors that were taken into account were:

  1. to keep the ideas which were discussed by e-mail
  2. not having too many countries to make visas difficult
  3. to go to places that we didn’t go in the last few years
  4. to choose places (like lithuania) where we have good contacts

Conclusion: BT 2006 will run from north to south, starting in Lithuania, (1 week) going through Poland, (3 weeks) Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, and Italy. Or if we don’t find organisers in Italy and Slovenia we will go for Croatia. For Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy we didn’t allocate the timings exactly, but only a couple of days are needed to get from the Polish border to Zvolen where ecotopia will be held.

Action points:

  • Check out contacts for national and regional organisers and people to include in the funding application in the relevant countries: pippa, tatiana: poland; milan: italy, slovenia, hungary; jan: budapest
Ex-USSR participants

We would like to increase the participation of people from the former USSR both to exchange knowledge, culture, actions etc, but also we could formalise this in our funding application to ensure that we can offer travel and visa reimbursement, at least for the first part of the BT. We need organisations from 4 countries of the former USSR, which could send 4 people each. We are thinking of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Moldova and perhaps Ukraine if one of the others doesn’t bring anything.

Action points:

  • Gandalf to liase with participating organisations from the above countries
  • Tatiana to contact Ukrainian organisation
Gender balance

This year there was a distinct lack of female participants in the BT. We had a short discussion on why this was and came up with three main points: that the countries we passed through are perceived by many as being dangerous, that women would perhaps not like to travel alone to these countries to start the tour, and that perhaps the tour sounded very demanding, with a lot of mountains etc.

Action points:

  • Jan to send round questionnaire to get quotes for the website which should make it clearer that BT is not very physically demanding.
  • BT website to try to reassure people more
  • BT to offer more support to get people together to travel to the starting point
  • When we send out our call for participants, try to send it to places where women are more likely to look
WCN office/money/film

There has been a lot of confusion in the last couple of years about our funding and where the last bits have gone or are going, and some in the group feel that we don’t have enough information about this, and don’t get replies from the office quickly enough when we ask. It was decided that this could be improved by the BT having a separate bank account, so that it is clear what is in it, and what has come in and gone out and why, and of course completing the funding application on time so that we have the money before the BT next year. The main outstanding issues are: 1) the money for the film. It was decided that it would be good to have the film made and that perhaps we should start to approach other people if we can get the footage back 2) the allocation of money from this year to the various organising groups. We don’t have the money yet but should make sure that all the names of the groups are collected before we do.

Action points:

  • Vita to chase people up to make sure the video happens, and approach Ell from Gdansk. Also to check minutes of previous meeting to see what length videos should be the outcome.
  • Gandalf recommended to copy all e-mails to the office to him so that he can chase them up.
  • Gandalf to ask about separate bank account.
  • Joao to ask Javier if he has the names of the Romanian groups from this year.
  • Next year have a better plan of how to spread the money equally around participants
  • Pippa to send Gandalf list of participants in this year’s BT
Decision-Making/Communication by e-mail/web

Jan outlined the advantages of each of e-mail, wiki and forum and it was clarified that the e-mail is the place where decisions will be made, whereas lists and texts go well on the wiki. The forum is for longer and more general discussions, but if a decision should be made on these it must be brought onto the e-mail list. The main sticking point is the facilitation, and for each decision to be made there needs to be a facilitator. Gandalf and later Joao offered to be back-up facilitators for decisions where no-one else has offered. Each time a decision is made, a facilitator needs to be found, a period for suggestions needs to happen, usually on the wiki, the facilitator needs to bring all the suggestions onto the e-mail list at the end of that period, and set a deadline for opinions, taking into account that some people don’t have every day internet access, and then announce the final decision.

There was also a plea for people to be clearer in the subject lines of their e-mails and also to make the wiki clearer so that it is more clear where people have to put their contributions.

There was also a proposal to have an online BT meeting around once a month. Action points:

  • next online meeting, last Sunday of this month (oct), 18:00 CET
  • everyone to be clearer in subject headers
  • everyone to be more proactive in facilitating decisions and saying if they haven’t got time to.
Outreach

This wasn’t supposed to be a separate point on the agenda but we got into discussing the fact that the EVS person could do some great preparation before the tour to make sure we have a small mobile exhibition with us, plus flags for bikes, andy singer cartoons on the trailer etc.

Action points:

  • Joao to do, presuming he will be the EVS person
Theme

We started to discuss an official theme and an unofficial theme, and liked the slogan “slow down to change the world”, but thought it wasn’t really a theme. We decided that we don’t have enough info about ecological issues in the relevant countries (except for Lithuania, where Vita mentioned nuclear issues) to make the proper theme yet, and that we will do it later. The official theme will be chosen by e-mail during the coming two weeks:

Action points:

  • Pippa to send round selection of funder-friendly theme possibilities
  • Unofficial theme to be decided after consultation with national co-ordinators
Magic Hat Vs. Documented money collection:

It was proposed to change the current system of collecting money to a magic hat system. It was clarified that people would still be asked to give money according to eco-rates.

The advantages were said to be that:

  • since the eco-rates are sometimes found to be oddly calculated, it would be at people’s own discretion for them to give what they felt appropriate.
  • It was pointed out that the system works well at the rainbow gathering
  • At the rainbow gathering it is made into a fun event, but at the same time there is still some incentive to give money because the hat passes round the circle and everyone can see whether or not you give some.
  • It would make everyone feel more responsible for the money

The disadvantages were said to be that:

  • it could be a logistical nightmare and another way to lose more time – if it is done every day people will never have the right money on them, if it is done every week, some people will come and go without ever paying.
  • it would bring another source of resentment and discussion into the morning circle, as sometimes happens when people feel that other people are not doing enough tasks
  • it may not work very well in a mobile community because people often don’t have the right currency or the right amount on them, and are unlikely to accurately perceive how much money they should be giving over a period of days
  • it was felt to be misleading to think that the ecorate system was still in operation because anyone can find a reason not to pay their eco-rate if they start looking and therefore it is unlikely that the biketour participants from the western countries will still be subsidising the more eastern participants to any great extent

It was decided to try it for the first week of BT before making a final decision, with one stand-aside, on the condition that: there is still an appointed money manager, that there is a person appointed to be responsible for money collection before the BT begins, and that the person responsible for welcoming new people also explains the money system.

Action points:

  • Jan to make sure money collector is appointed beforehand
Next planning meeting:

The next meeting will be on Saturday/Sunday 21/22 January 2006 in either: Studene, Slovak place, or Poland. All the national organisers should come, plus Joao, Gandalf, Jan, any other organisers, people with experience to share.

There will also be a skillshare meeting in Tabor, CZ, in May 2006 which could serve as a later meeting opportunity.

Action points:

  • Jan to ask Barca and/or Matus about the location, bearing in mind that all the national and any regional organisers should come and it could