Because of all the things I learned in the last 9 years, there is one that is worth the most. You have to put in a little for something to survive, let alone grow. It doesn't have to be a lot, but if you only take and never give then you will suck a thing dry and it will wither and die. But if you put in a little, and can convince a few others to put in a little as well, that thing can thrive. (And by the way, the putting in doesn't have to be a hardship. It can be as much fun as the taking, just ask anyone who's taken part in a trail day)
I tell people that the things I did for Kiara or the KLMBH or TRAKS were totally selfish, but maybe not in the way you think. You see, what I've come to realize is that if you enjoy taking part in something it is absolutely necessary to put something back in order to sustain it. If you leave it for other people to do it for you, and everyone else has the same notion, then you run the risk of seeing something you love disappearing for lack of support. Perhaps it was easier for me to see, because there was a time when only a handful of people rode Kiara and I could see the trails growing over or eroding in front of my eyes, and the Bash was lucky to have 30 or 40 riders and scrambled every month to find hares. I could see that if I didn't step up and do something then something I liked to do might cease to exist. But because I and people like me (people like the ones on the list above) put a little effort in that didn't happen.
So now hundreds of riders ride Kiara every week and it's common to have 200 or more riders out to a Bash. So you might think that it's a done deal, good to go, no need to do anything except participate, just jump on the machine and go for a free ride.
Wrong. It still (and always) takes the constant input of people to keep something rolling, and there is never enough of those key people. If those key people stop supplying the input then the machine grinds to a halt, the wheels fall off, the ride is over. Hard to get it rolling again. So supplying some of that input is selfish in the sense that it is in your own best interest to keep it rolling. If not you, who? If not now, when? And here's the really cool part: you do it for yourself, but everyone gets the benefit. How can you beat that?
So what can you do? Here's a few ways. With my departure the future of some of the things I helped put in place is in question. TRAKS, the TnT fund and the Adopt-a-Trail program are all things that I started or helped start in order to help share the load of taking care of Kiara, whether it was trail maintenance, funding for tools and bridges, or a voice to speak to the people in power. TRAKS in particular is in serious need of some new blood so keep your radar up for news of upcoming meetings as I know those left of the committee would really like to elect a new committee. This is an important time as there are lots of changes coming to Kiara as the National Landscape Department implements some of their plans for the place. So far we've had a good relationship with them and they do listen to us (though that is no guarantee that they will always do as we ask). But far better to have a seat at the table negotiating and advising than standing outside screaming to be heard.
If a request for donations for things like tools or bridge construction goes out, don't be shy. A standard 5' bridge section like the ones I built for most of the Kiara river crossings costs about RM 400. If an individual (like Flintstone for instance) has the moxie to build a bridge and drag it in to place it isn't asking a lot for others to help pay for it rather than having him dig into his own pocket. Spread amongst several hundred riders RM 400 is nothing, less than a single breakfast. Put a little in, OK?
If you see a call for a trail day, don't be afraid to join in. It's fun, it's good for you, it's good for Kiara. And it sends a message that there is a body of people who care about the place. Because actions speak much louder than words.
So. Enough already. Do me a favour and at least think about these things. It's not for me, it's for you.
-Pat "Patawi" Brunsdon
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