The troubles of the AIS are news to me but somehow I'm not surprised.
I first joined the AIS in 1957 and stayed in for about 20 years. There came
a time when I did not have a garden and so let my membership go. Then
around 10 years ago or so, I re-joined. I have to admit that I am not much
of a "clubber" and while as a teacher I enjoy people, my main reason for
joining AIS was to learn more about the plants. Up until the recent change
in editorship, the AIS Bulletin usually was put on the shelf shortly after
it appeared. Nothing but pictures of people I didn't know and the fine
print details of business meetings! Recently there has been a movement
away from that to include more color, more material on plants. But we
still have that fine print! It's very boring.
For many members the Bulletin is the reason for joining up. If it doesn't
deliver the goods, then people will drop out. The present trend needs to
continue. More on plants and less on personalities! A good story on a
famed hybridizer or grower every so often would be welcome, but up until
the last issue for many years personality trivia filled each issue.
So Terry Aitken should be commended and supported in what he is trying to do.
Some further suggestions would be to commission articles on particular
subjects, rather than wait for stuff to be submitted. I strongly suspect
that past editors have not been very agressive at "going after" material.
It doesn't happen in the Bulletin, but how many iris newsletters do you get
that consist mostly of the editor whining about how no one ever sends any
articles? Well, part of the editor's job is to go out and get those
articles. Perhaps even paying a modest honorarium (say $50) for good
articles would help.
I've been involved in many, many organizations over the years and when one
loses momentum and direction, the problem is almost invariably a lack of
leadership. In an organization the size of AIS, volunteers can't do it.
The task becomes too diffuse. So my really radical suggestion would be to
HIRE A PAID EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR to run the operations, and put the board
in the background to manage long-term policy.
So let's add more "beef" to the bulletin and bring on some accountable
Best wishes, Bill
William A. Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943 USA
phone (804) 223-6172
FAX (804) 223-6374