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Making it Count
28 January 2016

Today’s blog is brought to you by the number 8, the colour blue and The Hernia.

The number 8 is how many weeks since my last bike ride and blue is the mood that lay-off has generated.

Both are a consequence of The Hernia, which speaks for itself and isn’t much fun.

So, with apologies to Sesame Street for that intro, I’ll move on in my justifiably glum manner by pointing out that he day of reckoning is now less than six months away for Virtually On Track.

Officially on June 30, the funding runs out and we should flick the switch to turn this project off.

At this stage that would mean some 600 people who have liked VOT on facebook and maybe a few thousand more who have visited will find those resources have gone.

Internet search engines will continue to point to them for a few months, in the same way that astronomers look at the final flickering light of stars which is just reaching Earth while the stars themselves have long since died.

Other artefacts will provide evidence of the project having once lived here – there will be signs at the gem sites, remnant brochures on back shelves at i-sites, and a few posters and banners tucked into corners of the Sport BOP and Department of Conservation offices.

For those of us involved at the coal-face, there will be the odd keyring or T-shirt floundering somewhere in the bottom of a drawer.

The Virtually On Tack YouTube channel will continue to run, probably as long as there is a YouTube.

In the wash-up we will write a report so that others can see what we learned and, hopefully, use the wisdom to build, launch and support their own ventures in this space in the future.

In my dotage I may have the pleasure of seeing a social media platform that successfully engages with a broadly-based community of people whom it activates to explore, discover and connect with amazing natural play spaces which they both enjoy and care for.

But hang on a minute. Maybe, just maybe, if I whistle my favourite tune things will look a whole lot brighter.

The surgeon did say The Hernia can be fixed, I will return to cycling, paddling, running and generally adventuring about the place and the sun will get up again tomorrow.

And we still have a whole five months to find the way to keep the lifeblood flowing through Virtually On Track; which would only take about enough for a half-time position.

It will take a bit of effort and some help from those of you who have already engaged with the project won’t hurt.

Posting your experiences at our gems on-line, sharing with friends and generally spreading the word about Virtually On Track would be appreciated.

We’d also welcome some evidence that the project is achieving what it set out to do.

So as far as “conservation” outcomes goes, if, as a result of encountering Virtually On Track, you’ve undertaken any kind of environmental action (been to a planting day, joined a community group or even liked one on Facebook) I’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime keep looking on the bright side.

This post was written by

Steve Brightwell - who has written 17 posts

Steve Brightwell is a partnership ranger with the Department of Conservation.

He has been a part of the Virtually On Track team from the project's inception.

Steve lives in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, has a communications background, and is a weekend warrior of modest multisport ability.

The views he expresses for this blog are his own and do not necessarily reflect or imply official policy of the Department of Conservation.

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