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Re: AIS: Satisfying Personal Needs


I've been thinking about the idea that AIS has some duty to satisfy our 
personal needs and mulling what the extent of any such duty might be. Clearly 
people tend to want a lot from the organization and I have been thinking 
about whether I am getting what I need.

Speaking purely impressionistically here, some TB fanciers seem to feel that 
inadequate attention is being accorded the TB, some people who prefer other 
sorts of bearded irises seem to feel they are habitually being given short 
shrift in favor of the TB. Some beardless fanciers suggest the whole system 
is geared toward the pogons, some smaller hybridzers feel everyone else gets 
the glory, and commercial interests feel not enough is being done to bring 
the message to the wider gardening world, or if you prefer, increase the 
customer base. In short, it appears that many want more of what they are 
personally interested in from the larger organization, regardless of whether 
that organization can realistically be expected to meet the changing needs of 
everyone simultaneously.

So who is this AIS that is supposed to meet our needs? It hackneyed to 
observe that the organization is no one but We ourselves, but it is true. AIS 
is and can only be the Members, who, to varying degrees participate in the 
process of meeting their own needs, or the needs of others. 

Some members volunteer to do the Society's work at one level or other, and 
some volunteer at very high levels and in so doing take on great 
responsibility and face the possibility of widespread opprobrium. They do the 
best they know, but some of their actions are more enlightened than others. 
How could one expect otherwise? They also have limited resources with which 
to work, including limited money, limited manpower, and fluctuating 
commitment on the part of those who must come through for the cause to keep 
the little boat afloat. The only thing never in short supply within AIS at 
any level is opinions, which is not the same thing as ideas, or vision, or 

I'm of the opinion that the duty of AIS as an organization to its members is 
to facilitate communication, facilitate self-education, keep the 
documentation of the Genus straight, use its resources responsibly and 
develop new ones, support research on iris issues which have the capacity to 
enhance or diminish people's enjoyment of irises, and encourage and reward 
excellence in irises within defined standards which are meaningful to the 
members. In a world of fluctuating iris fancies and conflicting demands, AIS 
at all levels must balance progressive ideas and special interests against 
eternal verities, all while keeping the oars of the trireme beating in unison.

Now, at the top are the People Like Us who are the AIS Board and support 
staff, egionally there are the People Like Us who are the administrators and 
editors, locally there are the People Like Us who are the chapter leaders, 
and members. On the personal level, there is oneself and one's unique passion 
and curiosity. I believe all levels have some duty and responsibility to try 
to make the AIS membership experience meaningful for the individual, and also 
for the collective. 

While I share the interests of many members and vicariously enjoy others' 
enthusiasm for things which do not ring my chimes at this time, I also have 
iris preoccupations which are not shared by most members. I find people with 
whom to talk about those, and people have been good to me regardless of what 
my interests were. Never have I had my tastes ridiculed, nor has anyone tried 
to cram any Straight Party Line down my throat. Interesting information about 
all kinds of irises and many new developments comes my way, and at all levels 
of the Society people are accessible to me. They always have been so, even 
back when I literally knew no one, and talked of nothing but seeds. 

I don't think AIS is doing a poor job with what it has to work with. The 
Bulletin gets flashier and more interesting as time goes by, we are more or 
less solvent at the moment, the Registrar keeps on trucking, we have a new 
home for our library, the awards system feels its way toward responding to 
member ideas, money awaits scientific research, we are hearing more about 
international developments than we have at any time since WWII, new people 
are being brought along to take on significant projects, old prejudices are 
diminishing with time, classic presumptions are being discussed openly if not 
invariably cheerfully, people keep daubing pollen, folks outbid each other at 
ebay for the classic iris books, and every year we await the new catalogs and 
buy more irises than we have room for. 

I think that we could do with more self-reliance and individual 
self-validation in some quarters, and I don't care for the tone of some of 
the discourse which I fear will drive folks away from the iris, but as one 
small piece of AIS I am not discontent, and I don't think we are in bad shape 
for the shape we are in. AIS is a more interesting and modern organization 
than the one I joined some years ago.Thanks, everybody.

Anner, in Virginia --off to till in the aphabits. 

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