Best job in the world?
No two weeks – no two days! – alike, the constant need to be inventive about building 750 miles of bi-state trail with no capital, no maintenance dollars; everlastingly persuading others to ante up for that. This work as Southern Region Program Consultant, originally meant to be part-time, demands 40 hours a week. (It could take 80.)
The week not yet even near winding down (every week goes through Saturday and part-Sunday also) started with a presentation to St. Augustine Rotary Club about the Greenway. Co-presenter and Trail Council member Steve Davis weighed in with a review of the state trails program altogether.
Tuesday, I joined Adventure Cycling Association Executive Director Jim Sayer at a mid-morning program back in St. Augustine. Afternoon started with re-launch of the First Coast Trails Coalition in Jacksonville. Forty-five attended, including Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton. It’s his backing that has revived this five-county trails initiative, launched two years ago by the Greenway Alliance. We weren’t about to let this coalition disappear. We are stronger than ever.
Tuesday afternoon allowed informal meeting with long-time Florida cycling and trails leader, recently retired executive director of Bike Florida and fellow board member of the Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation, Linda Crider. Linda and I finished the evening with Jim at another Jacksonville program, also attended by cyclist Donna O’Neal, who is also deputy chief financial officer of Florida.
Wednesday was a one-on-one phone session with Trail Council Director Eric Weis. That was about our 2010 regional work plan for Georgia and Florida. This will be the year of major initiatives within the fold, like start-up of our Florida Committee.
We’ll also launch an equal initiative outside the fold. I worked on that Wednesday and Thursday while attending meetings of Visit Florida, the Sunshine State’s tourism marketing organization. I have the privilege of chairing the initiative for a trails website, due to launch in October during National Trails Month. I interact at these website development meetings with hiking, paddling, equestrian and additional multi-use trail interests, notably including Florida Bicycle Association, Bike Florida and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Fifteen years ago I signed on as a charter partner of Visit Florida and, though not on the board of directors, I can readily claim one of the best attendance records at quarterly board meetings since start of the public-private program.
Otherwise, I was cranking on next week’s meeting of the Coastal Georgia Greenway board in Liberty County, arranging meetings with the new president of Stetson University in DeLand and with public policy leaders in Miami, all meant to position the Greenway and Florida trails generally as vital in the coming Florida economy.
As I write this, I’m fulfilling my annual faculty role with the Institute for Travel Writing and Photography in Orlando, a project of the Society of American Travel Writers that I led from its start 17 years ago till I turned over helm tasks starting this year. I’m actually going to be talking to those registrants from all around America about – well, why not; it’ll be Saturday and Sunday included – the Greenway.