Some people just set a standard and Dick Ranney is one of those people. I have long known of the work Dick is doing in Michigan on behalf of the OHV community, even from before I was the Executive Director of BlueRibbon Coalition. The ripples extend well beyond Michigan. And, I have long wanted to have the opportunity to meet and spend a little time with Dick, picking his brain. This tour seemed the perfect time to avail myself of the opportunity and I am glad that I did.
Not only were Dick and his wife, Patty, gracious enough to offer me a place to stay (as well as feed me too), but Dick gave me two nights and a day of his time, and set up a great meeting with enthusiasts who live in and around the forests of the northern part of lower Michigan. He gave me a tour of the area and took me on a trail ride to show me some of the issues they are challenged with. In fact, thanks to Dick, I now know how to ride in the Michigan sand with a flat tire on the dirt bike. (Now there is a tricky ride. The back tire plants itself and the front goes wherever it wants and there is nothing you can do about it except grab it and growl.)
Lest you think all play and no work, Dick and I spent hours talking about advocacy and what it has taken to get where we are and what it is going to take to get where we want--what we're doing right and what we aren't and should be doing. I can't wait to put some of this to work at BRC. I think the most important thing I took from our time together is the way Dick says, "WE." It has to start truly being about "WE" if we are going to succeed going forward.
Dick has put in his time, and still is putting in his time. His wife tells me that he keeps saying he is going to cut back, but knows that he never will. He is just that way. Dick says he is just doing his "civic duty," but I know it is more than that. He has a passion that, in a short blog post like this, there is no way I can do it justice. Suffice it to say that I came away with a lot of sage advice and solid input. Before I left, I made him promise to write some of his best learning experiences as an advocate down as he thought of them, so I could share them with you all on www.sharetrails.org. Everyone should be so lucky as to spend a day with Dick Ranney.