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CONCLUSIONS
(Continued)

"WAJF should have phased Circuit Rider into its grantmaking."

6. WAJF should have phased Circuit Rider into its grantmaking.
On the whole, the LEV-ZEV advocates were very supportive of the networking project. Although beneficial, it did take time away from other efforts. Small grants set aside specifically to support participation would sweeten the pot and guarantee a warm reception for the Circuit Rider. Grantees might see that it pays to strategize if they were actually getting "paid" to strategize.

"The Circuit Rider benefited most from his base at tcn."



7. Circuit Riders should keep their independence.
tcn's distance from the enviro community proved a great asset. Grantees weren't skeptical of the Circuit Rider. They never perceived him as pushing any one agenda or strategy. Nor as a push-pull between competing NGO's. In fact, even in the friendly yet competitive universe of grant seekers, it proved to be very helpful to be seen as above the fray.

At times, the Circuit Rider's perceived status as a WAJF employee earned him a certain cachet. Organizations tried to curry favor assuming the Circuit Rider had some special pull with the Foundation. Not true, of course. But a helpful misconception.

The Circuit Rider benefited most from his base at tcn. He could confidently ride the circuit with full knowledge that tcn backup was in the wings. And tcn's support extended well beyond technical savvy. The Co-op offered a stable of folks with decades of combined experience with NGO's. They brainstormed ways to encourage action and developed thoughtful plans for moving forward. When LEV-ZEV advocates needed additional telecommunications services—like fax broadcasting or an 800-number—tcn could make it happen and save the organizations money to boot.

"The idea? Help advocates evaluate and articulate their needs and prepare them to use the grant wisely if received."

Some attempt was made to have the Circuit Rider assist NGO's with proposal drafting. The idea? Help advocates evaluate and articulate their needs and prepare them to use the grant wisely if received. Only CALPIRG and NESCAUM used the Circuit Rider in this way.

"...the Circuit Rider helped the LEV-ZEV organizations share their experiences with each other."

8. Getting to know you.
Technology moves fast these days. So fast that no one, including the Circuit Rider, has a mastery of all technical issues. But as he criss-crossed the country, the Circuit Rider helped the LEV-ZEV organizations share their experiences with each other. So working through problems in Boston led to faster solutions in Los Angeles.

Another tremendous advantage was continuity. Repeat visits by the Circuit Rider encouraged trust. And the occasional "meeting for drinks, meals or a quick game of tennis" cemented business relationships and sealed strong friendships.

"Circuit Riders are a special breed of animal."

9. Circuit Riders are a special breed of animal.
Our Circuit Rider had three strong suits. A good understanding of the political process. A basic knowledge of the technology, bolstered by an unnatural need to figure things out. And in his own words, "a willingness to visit the wee hours of the morning reading computer manuals that make little sense at other times."

Because he understood the political process, the Circuit Rider knew what the NGO's were trying to achieve. And why they chose the avenues they did.

"Circuit Riders need a counterpart to provide relevant, credible information for the network."

10. Even the Lone Ranger needed Tonto.
Paul Miller, the senior fellow at the W. Alton Jones Foundation, fed the LEV-ZEV listserv constantly. More than half the information that went out over the listserv originated with Paul.

Though on staff at WAJF, Paul, too, remained "independent"—particularly apart from the Foundation's program staff. This gave him freedom to work more closely with ZEV advocates. And the time to concentrate on LEV-ZEV.

In essence, Paul served as a cyberlibrarian. He collected information. Stored it. Distributed it. But his involvement didn't end there. He also analyzed news and reports. Pointed out inconsistencies in opposition statements. Identified key arguments supporting the "cause." And gave the Circuit Rider an insider's view of the political dynamics in both policy disputes and within the NGO's themselves.

It didn't matter that Paul worked at the Foundation (a staff member at a grantee-NGO could fill the same role). It mattered that Paul always provided worthwhile information. Information that made the means of getting it (Internet e-mail) worth having.

Our LEV-ZEV advocates, many of them new to the Internet, needed some information prodding before they engaged fully in the electronic dialogue. Without a cyberlibrarian like Paul, the network could have languished through lack of usefulness.

The lesson? The Circuit Riders need a counterpart to provide relevant, credible information for the network. Having such a person adds value. Advocates want to join the network because they need the information that the cyberlibrarian offers. Once engaged, those same advocates give back to the network. They contribute their own knowledge. Their own perspective. Everybody learns more.

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W. Alton Jones Foundation