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A Tale of Two Chapters

Changes for the Atlanta & Paulding Chapters of Georgia

by Annabeth Purcell

Did you know that there are 14 IMBA-SORBA chapters in Georgia? And more than a quarter of those chapters fall inside Atlanta’s metropolis of over five million people. So how many members does that add up to you might ask? Surprisingly, it isn’t much. But new trail projects continue to pop up all over the place! And without advocates to support them in the long run, it’s not certain how long they will last. So, if you’ve ever been on a chapter board, you know the age old questions, “What are we doing wrong? What are we doing right? And how do we encourage more people to sign up and/or volunteer?” I think we can all agree that one way to begin increasing membership is to go local, join forces wherever possible, and try our best to plan for future growth. And the Atlanta and Paulding SORBA Chapters are doing just that, planning for the future!

The Atlanta Chapter has just recently set a boundary for supported trails to a 30 minute drive time of the downtown area. This boundary localizes the chapter’s advocacy efforts so that board officers can make better connections with land managers, as well as other cycling and outdoor groups within the city, in order to push existing trail projects toward completion. It also relieves board officers and local volunteers of traffic congestion experienced when traveling to trails located outside the daily grid lock, bonus! The Paulding SORBA Chapter is changing its name to IMBA-SORBA West Georgia and implementing a structure localized by county. This structure allows the West Georgia Chapter to define a more regional area and share resources among already existing trails and new trail projects that are in close proximity to one another in Paulding, Cobb, and Douglas Counties.

The changes for both chapters should naturally bring new members and partners to the table, but only time will tell if it actually works for each of them. Regardless, planning for the future usually involves risk, and this is a risk that these two chapters are willing to take!