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Why are you a member of your club?

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#1 farcrowd

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Posted 25 September 2023 - 01:43 PM

Thanks, folks. All of your input will help me navigate how we can maneuver our club to success.

 

Topic /closed! :)


Edited by farcrowd, 26 September 2023 - 10:17 AM.


#2 truckerfromaustin

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Posted 25 September 2023 - 02:05 PM

I joined to support the club in Austin. I'm hoping to use their dark sites, meet with other members, put an eye on a few different eyepieces and scopes, and help with outreach. Unfortunately, due to my job and the cloudy weather this year, I haven't managed to make it to a meeting or a star party.
I've been thinking of joining an astronomy association in Arizona since I might be able to attend a function in the Tucson area.
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#3 vtornado

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Posted 25 September 2023 - 02:25 PM

I join to socialize, share ideas with other astronomers, help juniour members.

I have only been a member for 3 years, so I don't know everything.

 

I am my club's note taker so I attend every meeting.

I like doing public outreach, I am at 80% of public events.  Our out reach and club meetings are on different nights.

my club has a dark site, but it is an hour away, I rarely attend because of this.

Club has maybe 25 active members.  50?  total.

Seems like the top executives have been in those roles for a long time.

Lesser roles, like mine move around between members.


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#4 PolyWogg

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Posted 25 September 2023 - 03:10 PM

So I'm going to go a bit sideways on your question to give you some other things to think about, primarily around your claims that you "know what needs to be done" and "low staffing" for some activities. Having been involved in astro groups and other types of associations, as well as larger national orgs, not everyone has the same views, and if you think you "know what needs to be done", I can guarantee that probably at least a third of the members will disagree. From my experience, I think you need to think of three main variables.

 

1. ACTIVITIES

 

All of our big and small astronomy groups tend to orient themselves towards some subset of 4 main tasks:

 

a. Sharing and curating astro news;

b. Public outreach to build interest in astronmy;

c. Building a social community of members around astronomy and viewing, including private viewing options; and,

d. Building capacity of members (primarily) for something beyond simple observing (astrologs, sketching, AP, etc etc etc).

 

But almost everyone who joins cannot agree on what balance those four types of activities should entail. Some want A to be huge, active e-mail list, monthly newsletter, published astronomy journal, everything. Others are more "meh".

 

Some ONLY join because they want to participate in the public outreach programs, they like the social aspect, they like the idea of "service to the community". Everything else? They pass. And they don't want to organize anything...they're willing to attend, but they want others to do the work, they're just there to observe in groups.

 

Some don't want ANYTHING to do with the public, they only want access to the observatory, meetings, etc.

 

And some only come for the learning, particularly related to first light, AP, or EAA.

 

The fun part is some come for one, two, three or all four of those, but they all have views on what should be done on each, including if it should be done at all.

 

 

2. TYPE OF ORGANIZATION

 

Almost all of the "clubs" are formed as associations. But even within that, there are three different views of what the organization "should" be like:

 

a. Social Assocation -- loose group, pay dues to allow someone to organize stuff, cover overhead;

 

b. Service Club -- everyone is expected to provide not only $$ for membership but also are heavily encouraged / expected to service others through various outreach or member offerings; or,

 

c. Membership Benefits -- people pay their dues, they don't want to participate in governance, they just want the services they paid for (observatory access, loaner scopes, library use, email).

 

I can guarantee that in your club, there are likely people who believe heavily in B, hence comments like "low staffing", while many of the members are likely more A & C. 

 

 

3. HOW TO CHANGE

 

For astro context, I am a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (National) and a member of the local Ottawa Chapter. Being a member of Ottawa automatically combines to be a member of National, we don't have a local only option (some people question that, adding in a dimension of what your fees get you). I find the National group highly dysfunctional and no collective "vision" of how to change things. Lots of ideas, nothing coalescing into a gameplan, despite lots of good people trying with the best of intentions. Some people are happy with it, I'm more "meh". If there was a good local option, I'd jump ship and just do a local associate option. But I get some publications from National, it also covers local fees, etc. So I stay. I see it more like a partial charity donation to keep National going than value for services I feel I receive. I've participated in the local group, different functions, organized our largescale star parties for a couple of years, all good, but it is -- like many associations -- the same people rotating through the various positions despite membership > 300 people. 

 

By contrast, I am also a member of the Peterborough Astronomical Association. I am from Peterborough, but I live 3+ hours away, and I am unlikely to attend any of their events in a given year. Maybe 1 if I'm lucky. I just like that they exist, I get some invites for monthly online stuff, participate when I can, and it's reasonably priced. It's small and I'm happy to support them.

 

But for any of the three groups -- national, local, or ultra local -- there are people from all the categories above with the activities that cross-cut levels of interest. In my personal view, the only way to move forward is to ask the membership what they want...if you're President of the Club, and have a vision, that's great, but it's going nowhere unless a) it's what they want and b) you've consulted them on it at some point. 

 

I ran the star parties for three years, and in there I did surveys, solicited feedback, lots of stuff. And, to be honest, some of the feedback was whacked. Yet it was still legitimate...someone paid their dues, they have a right to be heard. It was totally unfeasible for logistics, but sure, we considered it. Yet time and time again, some people said the same thing -- stop overcomplicating things, the stars are enough. Send out email, invite people, that's enough. Except that is both right and wrong -- right in the sense that it SHOULD be enough, but wrong in terms of all that goes on behind the scenes that they might not see. Logistics, bookings, traffic considerations, permissions, insurance, media announcements, etc. It's a whole thing, trust me. Heck, even ordering portapotties. The people who took over and are now doing it are doing an AWESOME job with extra "outreach" / "comms" stuff than I did, or even thought possible with the crew we had. They're making it work.

 

But from what I've seen in other clubs, you can "add" stuff more easily than you can "change direction", and you have to be fully expecting that some people will not only not get on board, they'll actively tell you that you're going in the wrong direction like you're a complete idiot. Because they have a different view of what the club is. All of which are accurate...

 

I wish you luck. 

 

Paul


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#5 Sebastian_Sajaroff

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Posted 25 September 2023 - 05:40 PM

I go to my club to socialize and outreach to public
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#6 CarolinaBanker

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Posted 25 September 2023 - 08:35 PM

I’ve only been to one club event, although anticipate attending many more. I love the dark sky site, it’s B4, my backyard is B7. People are nice and share the hobby. Very few people seem to have more than a passing interest in amateur astronomy, so to be with other people who like spending 4-5 hours with their scopes and binos is wonderful.


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#7 Napp

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Posted 25 September 2023 - 09:30 PM

I am a member of two clubs.  I go to meetings and events of both clubs quite regularly.  I go because I enjoy socializing, enjoy observing in a group and enjoy doing outreach.  The closest club does do a couple events that are members only.  All other events are open to nonmembers.  However, we make it known that our dark sky sessions are primarily for members to pursue their own projects.  A club has to be careful not to schedule so much outreach that it burns out the membership.  Officers do have to be able to say ‘no’.  I really enjoy observing in a group.  We help and challenge each other.  I feel that this has advanced my observing skills far more than if I had been a lone wolf.  The real bonus is I’ve made some great friends.  
 

I’ve also gotten into attending major star parties.  It’s great fun to sequester away with a group of like minded folks and observe as much as possible for a week.  


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#8 jgraham

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Posted 25 September 2023 - 10:04 PM

I have been a member of our local astronomy club for 47 years and it has been a fun ride. I pick and choose what events I want to participate in. My wife and I like to help with outreach events that are likely to have a lot of families with young children. (My wife is a retired preschool teacher.) Overall, I just like having a chance to hang out with other amateur astronomers for a couple of hours a month at our general meetings.

 

Enjoy!


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#9 Nankins

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Posted 26 September 2023 - 12:11 PM

I joined for the ability to hang out with others who like this hobby as much as I do and to learn from them.  I also love the outreach aspects and having free access to Purdue's 16" SCT and also the big scopes and binoculars at Prairie Grass Observatory. 


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#10 Phil Cowell

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Posted 26 September 2023 - 12:32 PM

I’m not into a traditional club. The BAA is my “club”. Not into socializing my involvement is all online which works for me. They do science at a much deeper level if you want, which is my preference. Multiple sections and they don’t treat those that use technology as second class citizens. The also have a good astronomical history section. Virtual works for me and if you look online it’s a blossoming way to get involved. 


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#11 Mike Q

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 06:39 AM

A club is only worth joining if they actually do something.  The club I joined is part of the county park system and have practically unlimited resources.  But all they do is pull out one dob and a Stellina for outreach.  There is no effort made to draw members into the club and certainly no effort in developing the new members.  They probably have 10 or 12 telescopes in a storage shed and they aren't taken care of.  I hope you can find a club better then that 


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#12 mikemarotta

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 07:27 AM

I joined the local club when I got a telescope in 2014 in order to learn about observing from others.

 

Like TruckerFrom Austin, I am in the Austin club which has 500 unique usernames in the membership including Family options and about 40 show up to a meeting and easily 10 or more bring their telescopes to larger Outreach at state parks where we have been vetted to be public docents (field guides). We also do smaller events at libraries, schools, scout troops, etc. Monthly meetings are live and in-person again but also now include the online and virtual options at the same time (Zoom and YouTube both), so that now our meetings are archived as videos.

 

That said, I let my membership lapse when I was not that involved in observing 2016-2019 and then came back. However, in those years, I did have other memberships, such as the British Astronomical Association (See Phil Cowell's comment.) They do have active, science-oriented divisions, which our local club does not. We do have hands-on tutorials and we do have guest lecturers such as Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg (conveniently here at UT; now passed), but also university doctoral candidates and others. But as interesting as those are, they are not an active engagement with a mentor. 

 

 

I’m not into a traditional club. The BAA is my “club”. Not into socializing my involvement is all online which works for me. They do science at a much deeper level if you want, which is my preference. Multiple sections and they don’t treat those that use technology as second class citizens. The also have a good astronomical history section. Virtual works for me and if you look online it’s a blossoming way to get involved. 

 

I found MikeQ's comment disappointing. It is true that any club, no matter how active and involved in however many aspects will miss some opportunities. You cannot do everything all at once: your reach will always exceed your grasp. However, some clubs have serious deficiencies and this seems to be one such.

 

A club is only worth joining if they actually do something.  The club I joined is part of the county park system and have practically unlimited resources.  But all they do is pull out one dob and a Stellina for outreach.  There is no effort made to draw members into the club and certainly no effort in developing the new members.  They probably have 10 or 12 telescopes in a storage shed and they aren't taken care of.  I hope you can find a club better then that 

Even so, I can only recommend that you step up and volunteer to take care of this. We used to have a cartoon on the refrigerator called "Management Baseball" that showed a fielder watching a ball roll by as he yells, "Someone pick that up!" All I can recommend is that you go to one of those live events or otherwise reach out to club members and say that you want to take care of this and ask them one-on-one if they can help you do this, and if not, do it yourself. Get the key to the cabinet and see what you can clean up and fix up and starting rolling them out at star parties or arrange to loan them to registered members. 

 

Thanks (and Clear Skies),

Mike M.


Edited by mikemarotta, 01 October 2023 - 07:31 AM.

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#13 Mike Q

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 08:07 AM

I joined the local club when I got a telescope in 2014 in order to learn about observing from others.

 

Like TruckerFrom Austin, I am in the Austin club which has 500 unique usernames in the membership including Family options and about 40 show up to a meeting and easily 10 or more bring their telescopes to larger Outreach at state parks where we have been vetted to be public docents (field guides). We also do smaller events at libraries, schools, scout troops, etc. Monthly meetings are live and in-person again but also now include the online and virtual options at the same time (Zoom and YouTube both), so that now our meetings are archived as videos.

 

That said, I let my membership lapse when I was not that involved in observing 2016-2019 and then came back. However, in those years, I did have other memberships, such as the British Astronomical Association (See Phil Cowell's comment.) They do have active, science-oriented divisions, which our local club does not. We do have hands-on tutorials and we do have guest lecturers such as Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg (conveniently here at UT; now passed), but also university doctoral candidates and others. But as interesting as those are, they are not an active engagement with a mentor. 

 

 

 

I found MikeQ's comment disappointing. It is true that any club, no matter how active and involved in however many aspects will miss some opportunities. You cannot do everything all at once: your reach will always exceed your grasp. However, some clubs have serious deficiencies and this seems to be one such.

 

Even so, I can only recommend that you step up and volunteer to take care of this. We used to have a cartoon on the refrigerator called "Management Baseball" that showed a fielder watching a ball roll by as he yells, "Someone pick that up!" All I can recommend is that you go to one of those live events or otherwise reach out to club members and say that you want to take care of this and ask them one-on-one if they can help you do this, and if not, do it yourself. Get the key to the cabinet and see what you can clean up and fix up and starting rolling them out at star parties or arrange to loan them to registered members. 

 

Thanks (and Clear Skies),

Mike M.

I had stepped up and did a ton of work on their poorly designed, poorly assembled and poorly located roll off roof observatory, that they have been building for almost 4 years.  Things only get done when one particular person wants to do it and he is useless when it comes to do anything.  So i have decided to leave that mess behind and just continue to go it alone.  I have thought of starting up a club on my own but astronomy isnt a big thing in this part of Ohio.  


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#14 Richie2shoes

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 09:28 AM

I'm currently a member of 2, soon to be 3 clubs.  I am very active in my primary club, particularly with outreach and joined the other 2 for access to their club sites (the same reason I originally joined my primary club.)  Clubs are only as good as their members, and I accept that I can be considered a detriment to the other 2 clubs since I only pay dues and sometimes use the grounds, without any other support to the club.


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#15 Sunsparc

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Posted 01 October 2023 - 12:20 PM

I'm the founder, the one that plans the events and the one that shows up to every single one.


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