Why Have an Association? philosophical discussion??

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by gouvernail, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    This is an extremely toned down second attempt to begin a thread addressing this subject.

    The genesis of this thread and the previous deleted thread is very personal.

    My regatta; the Easter Laser Regatta; the regatta which I have personally financed and hosted for 25 consecutive years, was not included in the Winter Laser Sailor. It was left out of the 2009 districts schedule which was published on page 37.

    Last year the Vice President of the Class showed up at the event and demanded that we all pay dues to the Laser Class Association. Each of us paid annual dues to that associtaion. A year later, a schedule has been published and the 26th annual version of the event where each of us paid our dues is not included.

    I feel not only slapped in the face but I feel I let a person come in to my registration area and rip off my friends.

    After calming down for a few weeks, I am attempting for the second time to start a thread about this matter without violating the "friendly love and kisses" nature of this forum.



    The philosophical question upon which I would like to read feedback and discussion:

    Is it the responsability of our paid employees to gather information and publish that information or is it the duty of our sailors to get that information to the office?



    My take:

    I believe some of each is necessary but uiltimatly, the responsability for information gathering, planning, scheduling, publication, and dissemination of that schedule to the various media falls on our paid staff.

    Failure to receive information is not an acceptable excuse.

    Briefly? I believe publication of schedules for 13% of our districts is a failing grade and, after years of even the most dedicated service, should be considered as grounds for immediate termination.

    One man's opinions do not make a thread.

    Please if you would, take the time to give your perspective.

    Who do you feel is responsable for gathering, organizing, and disseminating scheduling information?
    What do you believe is the reason we pay a staff?
    What tasks do you expect them to perform?
    Should our paid staff do its best to glean regatta information from any available source like last year's hosts, the internet, and personal calls to district secretaries? Or should the staff only publish information delivered to the office by particular individuals in a particular format?
    In general, theh staff works for you:
    What is your particular pet task and unacceptable performance that would cause you do ask for their dismissal?
     
  2. Martin_Cph

    Martin_Cph DEN 182275

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    I am with you all way..our class must have bigger problems than this. Why would anyone want to kill a local and very good intiative like this. Growing and marketing this class is key…its about backbone and good spirits and not stupid and ignorant formalities….keep up the good work…they will see the light.
     
  3. GeoffS

    GeoffS Member

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    Same here. I'm pretty much a "joiner" in general, I'm currently Commodore of my local Iceboating club, and the Treasurer-elect for the International DN iceboat association. With that said, I haven't been an ILCA member in so many years I've forgotten when... :confused:

    I just haven't seen any value to the kind of Laser sailing I do to bother supporting the association.

    Cheers,

    Geoff S.
     
  4. Eric_R

    Eric_R D10 Secretary

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    Is every regatta for the next year scheduled by November when the Laser Sailor need information for the Winter edition? No.

    If the newsletter doesn't get them in time they are up on the class's calender when they are known then sent in for the next newsletter.
     
  5. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    I posted all the Easter Laser Regatta dates through 2012 sometime back around 1999. When the class re-did their website they didn't think it was important to transfer the future NOR.. I have reposted the dates at least a couple times sice I left the job as webmaster in 2002.

    This is a perfect example or something I believe we need to decide.
    . Should I be responsible for visiting the class website constantly and checking to see if they lost my information and re-posting every time the Class Website goes under some minor maintenance or should the class website be managed by our paid staff such that future scheduling is not lost??

    Clarification:

    I absolutely do not wish to rip on Sherry if she is doing as she does because she is given direction by the other officers.

    I started this thread to learn:

    Are my expectations way out of line with what the current officers believe is proper management?

    and

    Are my expectations out of line with the District Executives?

    and

    Are my expectations out of line with other regatta hosts?

    and

    Are my expectations out of line with fleet captains?

    and

    Are my expectations thought to be unreasonable by those members who simply pay their annual dues and sail?

    I already know how I feel. I am asking ...What is your opinion?
     
  6. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    For those outside the North American Region, or not (yet) members of ILCA-NA, here is a link to the Winter 2009 issue of The Laser Sailor (you'll need Flash 9 or better to view the page turner, if it doesn't work let me know and I can point you to a pdf... also, you can some back issues of TLS by going to www.laser.org, highlightinig the "Information" tab and then selecting "The Laser Sailor" link).

    As Eric mentioned, the deadline for the winter issue was a bit earlier than normal due to some scheduling - sometimes things like this happen. With such an early deadline, even a district like the one I live in, which has plenty of sailing year round and doesn't finalize its main season schedule until around the end of February, didn'tt appear. I can't speak for District 15 since I don't live in Texas but it doesn't surprise me the full schedule wasn't available and why commit something to paper when its not finalized?

    On the other hand, as events come in the online calendar at www.laser.org is constantly updated - by sailors, District Secretaries and Class Office. In fact, the Easter Laser Regatta is there (and has been for some time) as you can see at this link (though, Fred, I do not see it entered through 2012 so you may want to cross check that). In addition, thanks to James Freedman, the new District 15 Secretary, the District 15 schedule has been updated (e.g. see this link). In fact, as I type this, some 3/4 of the districts either have their schedule online, or are in the process of getting entered. There is still work going on here but its coming together, at more or less the same time it always happens. Check out this link to see how things are shaping up.

    When it comes to the changing world I have to admit to still being something of a luddite... while I do have a cell phone its not web enabled (in fact, its actually hardly ever on) making me the only one in the Bay Area without an iPhone, or a Blackberry, or some sort of hand held web accessible device. That means everyone but me can pull up the latest regatta schedule on their hand held device just about anywhere they go.

    Besides being mobile accessible, online calendars offer many extras you can't put in print. For example: google maps. When an event is entered it can be attached to a locatiion so a nice map will show people just how close the event is to them and, more importantly, allow them to get detailed directions to a event they may not have attended before. This you can't easily do in a print magazine.

    Another big advantage to having the full calendar online: rss feeds. Ever wonder where TLF is getting the North American Laser events it displays? Several district sites are starting to do this as well, allowing them to consolidate their district calendars into one location at www.laser.org. In addition, with rss feeds, you can create a "live bookmark" on your web browser thaht will allow you to see all the upcoming events in your District, or nearby Districts, etc. Its not perfect yet but sure offers far more to the sailor than a printed list in a quarterly publication.

    And there is even an option to sign up for a "newsletter" which, as we roll into the season, will email you weekly the events you have asked to see in the upcoming week. Follow this link to the main calendar page, then select "Newsletter" to sign up.

    Because of things like this, a large number of active Laser sailors (and, yes, Class members) have suggested to me that its becoming less and less important to publish, on paper, a static schedule in the class publication. Rather, they believe the online calendar is the more appropriate way to get the schedule out.

    It would be interesting to know what people at TLF think on this.
     
  7. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    I don't see any need for a printed newsletter; the internet works for me.

    Ok, seems strange that a physicist claims to be a luddite.
     
  8. Scott B

    Scott B Member

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    I do not know what the actual charter is for the Class Secretaries, so the following is my opinion based on this.

    We all know putting together newsletters is a royal pain the tush. Most people in this position are volunteers, and have lives full of other demands. The editing process takes a lot of time, and most people probably feel that would like to give more time to the effort, but can't.

    Than being said, our situation is a little different. We (the Class) have people (employees) who do this as their day job. During the day, when most of us are doing what we do, the class secretaries are getting paid to handle all our class business. It seems to me they have the time to do what needs to be done.

    Given that, I hold their output to a higher standard than that created by a volunteer editor. I would like to have seen them call each district secretary (especially the ones who did not submit any material for the newsletter) and ask about any updates, new info, etc. People obviously get busy, forget, etc. A five minute phone call could go a long way to filling blank spots in the newsletter.

    In reality, doesn't the editor usually ending up writing some to most of the articles in any newsletter?
     
  9. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    Tracy: Thanks for the extended comments. My cell phone has lots of capabilities I don't use either.

    My question revolves around whether we want the staff to do things like "use the internet to discover every single place in North America that allowed Lasers to race last year and then publish a list with as many updates for this year as possible."

    or//

    Do we only care about regattas that are posted on district schedules sent to the class by district governors?

    I hopneslty don't knowm teh answer.

    merilleee cdalled it bottom uop or top down and she suggested bottom up is how rthings simply must be.

    I think both are necessary.

    but I don't know what others think and why.

    When I was secretary in 2002 , District 5 secretary John Dawson Edwards complained because, when he sent nothing about his District's schedule, I had a local college sailor search the internet for North American events and I used that information without confirming it with him first. Some of the websites where we found information had posted inaccurate material and I put that inaccurate material in print. He was furious.

    Maybe the District secretaries have warned Sherry never ever to publish any district schedules of any sort without their prior approval.

    On the other hand nobody complained about the other 350 events we found and listed in that newsletter and most thanked me for adding to the lists they had sent and for helping promote sailing in their districts.

    I believe it is a reasonable goal for our staff to publish a minimum of 300 future events in each newsletter.


    Even if that 300 is a shared goal of yours, do we use association money to help make it happen??

    If everybody thinks I am totally wrong ...I can shut up..
     
  10. 49208

    49208 Tentmaker

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    I much prefer the online format, for all the reasons Tracy pointed out and then some.

    I know I have said this in the past but IMHO, I wish we (the NA class) would do away with the TLS in print, just publish it on the NA class site and/or morph it / blend it with the content on the NA class site.

    Let's enjoy more timely communication and a richer reading environment (video etc) and save some money and some trees.
     
  11. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    Quite frankly, I find the newsletter obsolete. I vritually get all my my regatta information via the web. I was trying to figure out my sailing schedule for the year long before the latest newsletter ever showed up. I was googling various yacht club websites since late last year trying to find regatta dates.

    That being said, I know there are still Laser sailors out there who still rely on the newsletter. There is one well-known sailor who I am pretty sure still doesn't have e-mail. I try to call him periodically to make sure he knows about some events.

    edit - My last paragraph illustrates a point. People who rely on the newsletter probably won't be online to defend their point of view. It's sort of like trying to get a good statistical sampling when taking a poll of Fox News viewers.
     
  12. Rob B

    Rob B Active Member

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    Because our newsletter runs quarterly I always trust the internet for up to date information. Many districts do not get information to the class for timely publishing in the Laser sailor. That said I don't think it's too much to ask the US class office to contact the district secretaries 3-4 times a year to touch base, check in, and request information for the "Laser Sailor".

    I do like getting the magazine for articles and to be able to browse listed events, event write ups, results and so on.

    As for being a class member I think it's important, but it's also a fine line for some. For instance, I think non class members should be allowed to sail in district series events. This pulls up participation and may encourage someone to join the class, but for national or regional championship events I think class membership should be required.
     
  13. Lots 2Learn

    Lots 2Learn New Member

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    I think the Laser Sailor adds value due to the articles and features but not for the schedules as others have mentioned. Schedules are a moving target. While I'm sure improvements can and should be made, the class office have supported the growth of my local fleet and they have reached out to me and others in my area for content they could include.

    My experience has been very positive and feel that my annual dues have gone further in this organization than in others I've been a part of. Though in the end I believe it is up to each and every local sailor to take accountability and make their experience the best it can be and what they want it to be.
     
  14. Martin_Cph

    Martin_Cph DEN 182275

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    Going forward we could use a more dynamic homepage with an easy to use content-publishing-software-platform. Everything now is static and boring…and close to obsolete information.

    A race calendar should be live and segmented into official, non official, regional, local etc.

    The technology is there…we are just not using it.
     
  15. SFBayLaser

    SFBayLaser Member

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    Hi Martin, perhaps you are referring to www.laserinternational.org, the ILCA website and not www.laser.org, the ILCA-NA website? The former is semi-static right now but they are working on a major upgrade which will allow for much more dynamic content. Pieces of this work are surfacing already, particularly in the world championship registration pages. On the other hand, the ILCA-NA website uses Joomla for the content and Helios for the events calendar (with some customizations). The calendar will display events in categories... for example major ILCA-NA events, Masters' events, etc. (and you can find each District's schedule on the District pages, start at the main Districts page and click on your District to find the schedule).

    There are plans to add more video, in particular we're hoping to pick up an rss feed from SailGroove for Laser events they do (like what they did for MWE), and we'd like to set up a YouTube group for collecting Laser sailing videos. Video is an area where someone with real experience could help us out a lot.

    Sorry, getting a bit off track...
     
  16. Eric_R

    Eric_R D10 Secretary

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    Sherri does ask for reports and gives a deadline. Every DS gets the deadline ahead of time and sends information in. The DSs are volunteers and they write the reports and send in anything they have for the district including a schedule. Articles can be sent in by anyone and usually goes straight to Sherri. At least that's how I've been doing it.
     
  17. bjmoose

    bjmoose Member

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    As I see it there are two separate, but intermingling issues here.

    One, Fred's main point: what' the job of the class staff secretary? To accept information "pushed" to her, or to agressively "pull" information from the source when it's not immediately forthcoming?

    Two, Tracy's point: Paper magazines have long lead times, and those can lead to material ommission, especially when local schedules are late in being formed. And further, is there even a point in having a paper schedule in the class magazine in this day and age?

    Folks, there's room for common ground here. We all recognize that time and energy are finite. When spent as if they were infinite, the result is burn-out and bitterness. I work in the software biz. Tell me about burnout. ;)

    That being the case, most of us would rather see one job done well, than two jobs done poorly.

    My suggestion, then is to make the NA laser class website the authoritative site for Laser regatta info, and drop that section from the NA Laser class magazine. That allows the secretary to focus more time and energy on getting it right, and on the *people* process, as Fred suggests, of hounding out info and making sure all the districts are represented.

    My further suggestion would be to make sure the schedule section is "self service" so that district secretaries can update/correct info in their own areas, but not to *require* them to do so. Why? Because you don't want any "bottlenecks" in the system of getting info to the sailors. You don't want an overburdened Class secretary getting weeks behind and not getting updates up in a timely manner because she's too busy. But you also don't want some districts under or non-represented because the volunteer district secretary is away on business, distracted with other life events, or simply not computer savvy enough to navigate and update the system.

    All that being said, I'm pretty happy, right now, today, with my local district 24 calendar as represented on www.laser.org and as previously sent out by our district secretary via the district email list.
     
  18. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    My experience with district articles was:

    1. About five of the district secretaries sent in fresh material written specially for the specific newsletter. It didn't matter whether I contacted them or not. The material arrived well ahead of any deadline.
    2. Another five or six would submit something that had already been published in their District Newsletter. I would contact those secretaries and ask if they had anything else to add so the material sent by the central office would be interesting to the members and not make me look lazy.
    3. The rest of the secretaries would need various levels of encouragement.


    First, we would send emails requesting material.
    Those who did not respond to the email would get a phone call.
    Usually those phone calls found message machines at the other end and about half of those secretaries would call back, email, or send an article within a day or two.
    Those who had not responded by those means would get an additional call or two or three until I managed to actually talk to somebody on the other end .
    If the Secretary did not have the energy or time to write someting, I would ask a few questions and write something myself.
    Sometimes the district did not currently have a secretary and my only choice was to gather some information and write something myself.

    Sometimes I failed miserably to perform muy job and I let a newsletter go out with some missing material.I didn't always produce an aticle for every single district. ...and I was fired in 2002...

    If you do not include the time it took to attend 25 events per year so I could bring the association's help to the local scene and personally gather much of the above mentioned information....

    The entire process of either gathering or making up my own articles for the Around the Districts section including laying out the articles and photos consumed about one day per issue or four days per year.

    Also, within the goal of showing 200 faces per issue, I made it a point to include at least one photo of at least one sailor from every single district in every newsletter. I would ask the secretaries and regatta hosts and people in general to send something but if I had nothing from anyone that was fresh, I would use one of the photos in thousands we kept on file. Most of the photos on file were taken by one of our paid North American Executive secretaries. Many more were taken with my camera when I handed my camera to parents while their kids sailed in events. Many more were taken by Lainie Pardey and the remaining 5% or 10% came from the constant begging to anybody on the planet to please send photos to the class.

    ( I bold faced MY CAMERS as sometime in 2002 one of our members had a hissy fit about my use of Association funds to purchase a camera for this purpose. SO, I bought it from the Association adnwhen it was lost along with ten rolls of undeveloped event film at the 2002 North Americans, it was my personal $1600 that went away.)

    The huge section of regatta NOR and smaller simple regatta schedules ( which, including our fleet listings, had more printed words then the current entire newsletter) was the product of daily updating and when it was time to actually publish each newslettter I would simply cut and paste all the events I expected to happen after the arrival of the particular issue.
    I don't buy all the excuses about dynamic schedules and difficulty of gleaning the information sufficiently in advance to maintain great schedlues and lists of NOR for the quarterly newsletter. I always manged to publish information about 200 to 300 events and only about 10% more would become available such that I only managed to get the information up on the website...

    Does someone have examples of these ( mythical) regattas that change their dates, venues and other information so often we cannot actually publish anything about them??

    and while I was accomplishing all this...which really isn't all that much......I was still on the steepest part of the learning curve about how to even make websites and newletters happen.

    Back to the thread subject>>


    When I asked, "Why have an Association?" and asked for your philosophies about what we ought to describe as the functions of the tool which is our Association...

    I wanted to know what things the rest of you believe our Association should do for the game.

    I repeatedly harp that the paid staff MUST perfom a myriad of pedantic tasks so the association will be vital and the game will grow.
    I want to now if others agree or differ with my concepts and wishes.

    There is a huge difference between

    "Your job is to publish information about every district in the region and distribute it on a quarterly basis to the membership"

    and

    "When somebody feels like sending it in it will probably be up somwhere on the website."


    I am quite adamant about my position:

    I believe our Association's primary goal is to gather and disseminate information about Laser sailing.

    I see the Association not as our mommy who tells us what to do and punishes us with time out when we don't turn in our homework in time. I see it as a simpe tool. The Association is a tool for the Builders to sell more boats. The Association is a tool to help us all find sailing events and for the sailors to get more friends out sailing.

    The builder's contributions and the members contributions are given to maintain and operate the tool.

    if the Association is no longer going to be a tool that does its basic job, I believe it must be reorganized or disbanded and replaced with an association that serves our purposes.

    Something about:

    We don't give a hoot if your events are scheduled or promoted or happen or not ...

    does not fit well with

    Send us some money.


    So what's your philosophy? Why have an association?
     
  19. MasterMike

    MasterMike D22

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    I agree with others that a printed schedule with such a long lead time is not as accurate as net-based info. Put it on the website. But I do like the magazine, the photos, the articles and sailing tips, info about other fleets, the ads (weird, I know), etc. I probably wouldn't comb through all that info on a website. And I can pass old copies to interested parties. If there is not a magazine, and all the info is available online, what else do I use to sell class membership to local sailors?

    Fred - are you saying none of your Easter attendees were Laser class members? Do they need to be if it's not a District championship or similar? I have this problem in 22, where I have a grand total of three members and I need tangible reasons for more of them to join.

    As others have said, we DSs are notified well in advance by the fleet office of the need for reports, then reminders if it gets close to the deadline, then a reprieve this last week after the deadline passed! (Thanks Jerelyn).

    The only thing I have noticed that was funny was that our District champ results were never published in the mag or on the website last year.

    As staff paid by the members, I agree that the class office should do much of the homework to round up info from the districts, organize it, and publish in some format. It requires the DSs to assist however - hard to do by email remote control.

    My opinion is that the class office should do more print and web marketing to increase membership and grow the game. We are generally invisible except to a few insiders. Most of my friends have never heard of a Laser, had no idea that they are in the Olympics. We need a presence and the credibility that comes with being an international class in order to attract newcomers.
     
  20. gouvernail

    gouvernail Active Member

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    My goal was to pose a question and watch the discusion develop and here I go blabbering again..phooey.

    Easter is relatively early in the year and many of the sailors had not paid their annual dues...so they paid up at registration..

    The publicity thing?? In the real world outside sailing, out annual gross budget wouldn't buy one prime time ad on one TV show. Any time you see anything about Lasers in any other media than our little magazine, somebody has managed to work an angle and obtain some free attention.
    I cannot complain about a lack of visibility in the mainstream media.

    and of course..
    Master Mike is a great breath of fresh air in District 22. His predecessor had worked long and hard for many many years and I was always amazed he had not burned out altogether.

    Go Mike go!! Someday we should all visit Flathead!!

    Nationals on Yellowstone sponsored by the national park service??
     

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