Orphan Members of NARGS

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Peter George
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-03
Orphan Members of NARGS

The huge burst of activity on Alpine L recently, in particular a huge series of photograph uploads by Jane Hendrix, leads me to the logical question of what we in NARGS can do to support our numerous 'orphan' members. 'Orphan' refers to those members who are not members of Chapters, most often because they don't live near an existing one. We have members all over the world, and even in North America there are many members, Jane among them, who would have to travel hours to get to a meeting of their closest chapter. One of the reasons why I suggested that the Chapters link their newsletters on the NARGS website is to give these NARGS members an opportunity to see what is going on with the Chapters, and take some advantage of the enormous body of knowledge which is shared among the various Chapter members. And, of course, as our members travel, knowing what is going on in the various chapters would help them in possibly planning a trip around a particular activity or program. And finally, NARGS members might actually JOIN a chapter based on the newsletter and one or two particularly interesting programs or activities that might make a 4 or 5 hour drive worth the time and effort.

So the question of the day is "What can we do to make NARGS membership more valuable to those members who are not Chapter members due to distance from active Chapters?"

Booker
Booker's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-30

Surely one of the principle attractions and functions of a national, nay international forum such as this, Peter?  Members who are geographically remote or simply less gregarious can participate in, contribute to and enjoy the diverse and friendly interchange of knowledge, banter and experiences across a global platform.
You are to be commended and encouraged to pursue this topic Peter for the good of the Society, the Chapters and, more importantly perhaps, 'orphans' everywhere.  Many thanks.

Cliff Booker A.K.A. Ranunculus
On the moors in Lancashire, U.K.
Usually wet, often windy, sometimes cold ... and that's just me!

Weiser
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-04

Being an orphan myself.  :'(  I appreciate the new effort put forth to update the NARGS sight. There is only one other dedicated rock gardener I can connect with on a personal level, in this area of Nevada. I depend upon the Nevada Native Plant Society for face to face discussions about species suited to my climate. However many of the wonderful members do not concentrate their efforts toward growing the natives we see on our field trips. It is therefore a privilege to belong to several nationally organized plant societies.
I am always interested in the information supplied by other gardeners and seek out organizations that promote bringing wild plants into cultivation. I fully support any effort to link chapter news letters to the national sight. I read them with great interest and am grateful for the information they pass on.

From the High Desert Steppe
of the Great Basin and the Eastern
Escarpment of the Sierra Nevada Range
Located in Reno/Sparks,NV  zone 6-7
http://www.flickr.com/photos/sierrarainshadow/
John P Weiser

Weintraub
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-02-24

I've been a member of the Rocky Mountain Chapter sporadically over the years despite the 5.5 hour drive to Denver. It is one of the most active chapters with an amazing wealth of knowledge derived partially from the Denver Botanic Garden and the staff members who belong to the chapter.

I've also considered initiating a chapter in New Mexico (The Enchantment Chapter?), but health conditions have prohibited me from taking on the commitment. Ironically, because of our climate, periodic water shortages, abundance of stone, and general interest in xeric plants, Santa Fe is ideal for recruitment of rock gardeners.

Besides starting a chapter in your own area or joining an existing chapter within driving distance for a weekend trip, I think that using this website and/or developing your own network are also options.

Best to all of us orphans.  :P

Barbara Weintraub
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
6700 feet elevation - high and dry
nominally zone 5b; i think it's closer to 6a

Fermi
Fermi's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-03-03

I was an "orphan" member when I lived in Louisiana back in 1996/97. Fortunately I was "adopted" by the Rocky Mountain Chapter as I kept visiting Denver whenever I could! Through the newsletter I found out about the bustrip to the Bighorn Mts and I scrounged enough days off to fly up for an extra-long weekend! I still rank that trip as one of the "horticultural highlights" of my time in the USA - not the least of which was the camaraderie of like-minded gardeners.
Now back in Australia I am once again an orphan from NARGS but belong to a local group (only 2.5 hours drive away!) linked to the AGS in the UK. I find the benefits of membership to be the Quarterly Journal, the excellent Seed Exchange and the contact with other members who share an interest in Rock and Alpine plants. This Forum is an added bonus as Cliff has already pointed out.
While I was in the States I was able to attend 2 winter study weekends and came back in 1999 for the National Conference which every member should make an effort to do at least once if not more often. If it was easier to attend from this side of the world I would! (I'm one of a dozen Australian and NZ AGS members making the trek to Nottingham in April for the International Conference and I hope to meet many of the regular SRGC Forumists as well as some from here.)
cheers
fermi

Fermi de Sousa,
Central Victoria, Australia
Min: -7C, Max: +40C

McGregorUS
McGregorUS's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2009-12-18

This whole discussion is fascinating to me. I'm now both editor and orphan so its of real interest. I'm very conscious that the Quarterly has to serve much of this purpose for the far-flung, and as Barbara and Weiser point out, you don't have to be outside the US to be an orphan. So any comments and suggestions are really welcome to me. It's a really useful discussion Peter - thanks for starting it.

Malcolm McGregor
Global Moderator/NARGS Editor
East Yorkshire, UK

Peter George
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-03

One of the greatest challenges facing NARGS is how it will deal with the disparate (and sometimes mutually exclusive) needs of the members who belong to chapters, and those who don't. Over the past decade, some of the chapters have effectively become 'independent' of NARGS as they perceived fewer benefits from NARGS, which has led to a diminished membership, particularly in North America. The various chapters don't always push NARGS membership, so we are seeing chapters with less than 20% of their members belonging to NARGS, which is damaging to both NARGS and the chapters themselves.

The value of NARGS is going to have to be 'enhanced' in the near term, and the benefits will have to be re-sold to chapter members if we are going to get a meaningful increase in our membership. The Journal is vastly improved but we'll need to add benefits beyond the mainstays, which have been the Journal, the Seed Exchange and the regional and national meetings. We should be reinstating the 'expeditions' again this year, but there are still some additional services we can offer, including a shopping cart for the website. Any additional suggestions?

Peter George, Petersham, MA (north central MA, close to the NH/VT borders), zones 5b and 6 around the property.

Weintraub
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-02-24

As Peter suggests, field trips and expeditions would enhance NARGS membership. I think email or telephone communication between individual members would help. Most plant people are more than happy to share their passion with like-minded folk.

For instance, anyone who shows up in the Santa Fe area could easily entice me out for a walk to one or more of my favorite spots, some of which are 1-2 hour drives, others within walking distance of my house. My gardens are all just started, but with that caveat, a visitor is welcome to wander around my property to see what's native here and what I'm planting.

Barbara Weintraub
Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
6700 feet elevation - high and dry
nominally zone 5b; i think it's closer to 6a

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