The Out Our Front Door Board of Directors are a bunch of rad folks who care a lot about OOFD and are super focused on keeping the org true to its mission and values. In 2020, the board did a number of deep dives into our mission and reworked it as well as established a set of organizational values. Our original mission statement as established in 2015 read:
As a community organization, Out Our Front Door’s mission is to immerse, educate, and preserve the history, culture, trails, and native habitats of the Lower Lake Michigan Basin Area through exploratory adventures. Established in 2015 with the North Loop Ride, we now have many different resources, events, and programs we offer the public.
The board meticulously wordsmithed that to make it a bit cleaner and attuned to what we do. So in 2020, we edited it to read:
Out Our Front Door welcomes you to join us on our immersive, inclusive, and educational bike camping adventures. We aim to deepen your reverence for the region by exploring local trails while learning about the culture, history, and habitats native to the beautiful Lake Michigan area.
And it has stayed that way for a couple of years though this last year, we decided to add a very short addition to it. Just 2 words actually. A very exciting set of 2 words. At the very end, we added “and beyond.” So now our mission statement reads:
Out Our Front Door welcomes you to join us on our immersive, inclusive, and educational bike camping adventures. We aim to deepen your reverence for the region by exploring local trails while learning about the culture, history, and habitats native to the beautiful Lake Michigan area and beyond.
As with any suggestion to add/change something as foundational as our mission statement, there was a lot of discussion and debate. We are a Chicagoland and Lake Michigan Area focused organization. Would we lose focus if we started to go too far out of that region? There is so much to explore here. We are called Out Our Front Door, so how far can we go and still be considered being out our front door? We go to Door County, what’s up with that? Well, its Lake Michigan area, right? Why can’t we go to further off places that aren’t right on Lake Michigan? Would we be stretching ourselves too thin? What about accessibility and sustainability of having rides that are further afield? “Hyper-local” and “topophilia” are actually stated in our Values.
Ultimately, we settled on adding “and beyond,” with the understanding that we will always be first and foremost a local, Chicagoland organization. The Lake Michigan Area is our home and that will be where the great majority of our rides will always happen.
But two things convinced us to ultimately add “and beyond” to our mission statement. The first and more important reason was our volunteers. “Volunteer” is a core value of OOFD and our volunteers will forever make up the core of who we are as an organization. And our volunteers always have amazing ideas, oftentimes for other rides outside of Chicagoland. And we want to offer them an opportunity to make something new and amazing happen at OOFD. Allow them to use OOFD as a platform to get creative and to continue to think outside the box “and beyond” towards even greater adventures.
The second reason was that eventually we will have done an overnight to every campground within a day or two’s ride of Chicago. And we’ll probably get to a place where we need to cycle certain rides in and out each year. But we want to forever be encouraging ourselves, and each other, to explore new places, have new adventures. And by expanding our mission to “and beyond,” that encouragement is written into one of the most important sentences that exists for our org, the mission statement.
So in the coming years, you may see us start to offer different rides, one or two a year, some a little further from Chicago, probably up into Wisconsin or Michigan. Maybe even out to different parts of Illinois. That said, we will continue to be the hyper-local focused org that we always have been, loving up our home region and helping immerse and educate our neighbors on the amazing history and nature of the Lake Michigan Area especially around Chicagoland.
And we are always open to suggestions. So if you have a rad ride that you think would rock as an OOFD ride, you can submit your suggestion here.
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"To immerse , educate, preserve & advance the history, culture, trails and native habitats of the Lower Lake Michigan Basin Area"