Saturday, August 3, 2019
Societies Taking Their Cue
from a Circle Mender
By the time you read today's post—unless you, too, are up at o'dark thirty—I will be well on my way down the Great Valley heading to Fresno, California, for a genealogy meeting. This, however, will not be just another genealogical society meeting. Unlike those sessions—which generally provide instruction from a qualified genealogist on a specific technique or topic of interest to members—this event, while hosted by a local society, comes with a goal of inviting others to join in the process.
It is no secret that the design of local societies—a system which has served them well for decades in the past—needs some serious updating. People do not join organizations for the same reasons that their grandparents (or even their parents) did—if they join any groups at all now.
Thus, many societies find their membership dwindling, and are casting about for alternate ways to recreate the robust, thriving organizations of their past. I find this trend odd, considering the burgeoning popularity of such television programs as "Who Do You Think You Are?" and level of traffic at not one—the ubiquitous Ancestry.com—but several genealogical websites. But then, perhaps we are living out the battle to reclaim our need to congregate, à la Robert D. Putnam's predictions in Bowling Alone.
To counter that trend—at least, if that is indeed our future doom as well—a county genealogical society decided to invite fellow societies from the surrounding area to join them as they invited APG genealogist, nationally-recognized speaker, and society leader Jean Wilcox Hibben of Circlemending.org to facilitate a symposium on developing strategies to keep societies thriving and vital.
If you've been following along here at A Family Tapestry, you know how important that topic is to me, so you won't be surprised to learn that not only will I be attending that event all day today, but I will be joined by two other board members of our own local organization. We are determined to put these ideas into action, as well as to share some of our own.
I can't say enough regarding the benefit of coming together to talk about the administration of our organizations and the strategic planning and team building efforts required to make these societies a reality. Kudos to the leadership at the Fresno County Genealogical Society for putting this program together, and for the generous gesture of including their neighboring societies—even as far away as their northern neighbors in the far reaches of the Great Valley—in the process. Together, we can accomplish so much more than we could as individuals—and that goes for the collective efforts of multiple organizations, as well as people.