Maybe a decade ago, I got into an online argument. Surprising, isn't it? I'm not the contentious sort and typically prefer discussion to argument, but when given lemons and you're thirsty, what's a guy to do?
The argument concerned the International Moron Breeding Association, commonly pitched to the American populace as the International Mountain Biking Association. And it concerned Ashley Korenblat, and I accused AK of yuppie perspectives and gentrification embodiment, wrapped up in the handle that back then was just beginning but as of 2015 is everywhere: "grow the sport."
This blog's various authors, in varying states of disgust and/or disappointment regarding the way IMBA fails to look at things long-term unless it's about long-term income streams and that vaunted journalistic principle of "access," have talked about "grow the sport" before. Simply: if you want something to last and that something is a participant-focused thing, you will want participants who have a vested interest in the thing. And by "vested interest" I mean, more than a passing fad's "oh MTB is cool now, I think I'll get a mtn bike," which gets ridden for a season at best and becomes a dust magnet thereafter. Bringing such people "into the sport" doesn't help anyone but the retailers. The retailers aren't the riders. The riders you'd want to work with are those who have spent a long time bicycling and have seen what has happened to access for MTBs during that long time. Someone who just started MTB thanks to an article in Outside magazine hyping carbon wonderbikes, that person doesn't know much, if anything, about what MTB riders have dealt with over the past 20 years when trying to have equal access (equal to horses and walkers) to trails within state and federal lands.
Surprise was not on the menu when I read this entry just now and saw AK's response in the comments thereafter.
Short version of AK's response: but we need access to succeed.
It's like Marxists, who support incremental voting-in of Marxist politicians, the better to have a Marxist-dominant legislature, which eventually will create a Marxist government for the Marxist benefit of everyone. The fact that it would take 500 years to vote-in a majority as Marxist is of no moment. Get access, increase access, convert the system.**
The problems with AK's perspective relate to a focus on "access" and a belief that being accommodating is the key to getting Fed Govt to see things your way. This being a product of naivete is not likely, and I would wager a sizeable sum that AK knows FedGov doesn't play fair, it expects you to play ball.
When you want FedGov to budge from an intractable regulatory/legal stance, "public participation" is going to net you nothing more than FedGov going through the motions of "receiving" your comments regarding its intractable position(s). It has no obligation to take your comments seriously, let alone rework its intractable position to account for concerns, quarrels, and antipathies laid out in whatever comments are received.
The only way to get movement on the intractable position is litigation. But AK thinks it's better to "come to the table" (quotes don't mean AK said this, they mean to suggest it's a cliche) and smile and nod and end up, once again, the red-headed stepchild of trail users.
Ashley Korenblat doesn't speak for me or any other MTB rider I know. Ashley Korenblat speaks to status quo maintenance on trail access, not rocking the boat, not being a burr under FedGov's saddle. Ashley Korenblat speaks to Ashley Korenblat's moving up the $$ ladder thanks to "access." Ashley Korenblat doesn't care if MTB riders in MT and ID just lost a bunch of trail mileage access, because contesting that loss would reduce Ashley Korenblat's "access."
** See here, scroll down to the "Karl Marx" part.