I’ve got a contract to develop an online community for bicycle advocates in North America. I’ve started working on the community planning template and I need some perspective.
Unlike teachers or doctors or photographers, there are very people who are full or even part-time paid bike advocates. More importantly, few people who volunteer their time on bike-related activities would consider themselves ‘advocates’, for example the woman who shows up to help dig a mountain bike trail, the guy who volunteers to lead kids on a weekly group ride around town, or the couple who takes on the task of maintaining the bike club’s blog and Facebook page.
That type of volunteering is quite different than what’s usually considered ‘advocacy’, for example, the woman who lobbies city hall on her own time to make it safer for kids to ride their bikes to school, or the small group who meets with their state legislators to lobby for increased funding for recreational trails.
My vague, unexamined assumption has been that these two types (volunteers and advocates) have enough in common (help make the world a better place through bicycling) to be part of the same online community. I could very well be wrong but I’m unsure how to analyze it.
Just writing this has helped to make some sense of the problem but I’d be grateful some additional perspectives.