Fall 2014 Chapter News
By Sue Klefstad
In lieu of our Indiana meeting, this fall's business meeting happened via Skype. If you missed it, two important topics were discussed.
Throughout its lifetime, Heartland chapter has been passing paper records from officer to officer, generally by handing off a box or a bag. Unfortunately, paper is easily water damaged, as happened to our box of secretary records. Marilyn Augst and Kay Reglein have been going through the papers and putting them into a plastic box. Thank you both!
When I asked ASI about recordkeeping, they suggested storing records electronically. Since we have no central office, it seems as though The Cloud is our current best answer to centralized storage.
At this point I’m thinking that we’d put PDFs of the documents into a free Dropbox account. Give a shout out on the Heartland email list if you have other thoughts about electronic recordkeeping.
What is the future of ASI chapters?
Heartland chapter canceled our fall workshop due to lack of participants. The Mid-South Atlantic and Golden Gate chapters also canceled their fall workshops for lack of participants. The Chicago/Great Lakes chapter held their fall workshop, but to a smaller turnout than in recent years. The Southeast chapter had to cancel their latest workshop, about a year ago. The Southern California chapter is just hanging on; the New York City chapter is inactive.
What did you think of the recent Chapter Issues discussion on the ASI-L email list? Should the national meeting be held every other year, with “regional” meetings in the off years?
What is the future of ASI chapters? The answer is up to the members. What are you seeking from the Heartland chapter? Or from ASI?
The ASI-L discussion was divided among proponents of literal face-to-face meetings and virtual face-to-face meetings (physical gatherings to discuss virtual presentations), with a few advocating an entirely virtual approach. But chapter members are voting with their feet and a large number are saying that literal face-to-face is not worth the hassle required to achieve it.
Can we make both sides happy with a hybrid approach? One idea presented at the latest Heartland business meeting (which was held over Skype) was that Heartland could cooperate with another chapter to present a program. One of the chapters would have the program live at their site, and the other chapter would be gathered at their site to join the program virtually. This would let people sit next to other real people while participating in a program neither chapter could present alone. Extending this idea, the program could be recorded and available for later viewing online. Or perhaps virtual participants could watch the program as it happens.
The cost for participating in the workshop would be the same, whether joining on site or virtually. The on-site people would have the bonus of the networking face time, which is so valuable. The virtual participants would be able to take part even though unable to join in person.
I believe that we will increase our chapter member involvement when we’re able to offer virtual participation.
It’s been suggested that chapters change from having two meetings a year to having only one. The Pacific Northwest chapter made this change a couple years ago and it has worked well for them. Should Heartland have only one meeting a year? When?
It seems as though we’re at a crossroads, both as a chapter and as a society: Literal face-to-face interactions are waning, while virtual interactions are increasing. However, everything old is new again: I worked with the Illinois Cooperative Extension Service (now just Extension) back before the Internet existed. They’re a poor-as-a-church-mouse organization that excels in “virtual” group meetings for education and basic networking. Their connections have been virtual for decades because it is efficient. But they always come together for their annual meeting, in person. Almost everyone participates in the annual meetings because that is the expectation of their organization; the time is allocated and the expense is budgeted. We can have it both ways.
We have a lot to learn and we will need to help each other work through the technical hurdles. Plus technology has to catch up with our needs. Streaming a session live or even recording it for later viewing is beyond us at this point and incorporating virtual participants into discussions is clumsy at best. I’m probably not the only one with home Internet issues. Technical hurdles come in all flavors, but time will take care of many of our hurdles.
So what are you seeking from the Heartland chapter and from ASI? What can we do for our members? And what can you do to help us get there?