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Re: hosta-open DIGEST V1 #400

  • Subject: Re: hosta-open DIGEST V1 #400
  • From: "Bill Meyer" njhosta@hotmail.com
  • Date: Tue, 3 Sep 2002 10:51:38 -0400

Hi Joe,
       If I may jump into this one, I'm on the AHS Board now and I'm the
person behind the First Look Seedling and Sport Competition. I have to agree
with much of what you say. The AHS has in recent years clearly suffered from
a narrowing of its focus. I don't deny that at all. When we put our
competition together, I wasn't sure if the AHS would allow us to be an
official part of the society or if we would be doing it on our own. We
thought First Look should be part of the AHS and took it to the Board at the
time. They accepted it with open arms, so our reservations were without
cause. I don't believe for a minute that there was any interest on Ed
Elslager's part in making his Journal a part of the AHS publications wing.
If he had wanted to discuss that with the AHS, it probably could have been
worked out. To my knowledge, he had no interest in this, and wanted a
journal of his own which would not be subject to policy decisions from
        Whenever someone comes up with something new, they have a decision
to make about whether to offer it to the AHS for approval and inclusion into
the society, or to stay away from the AHS and do it on their own. As Ed
makes clear in his preamble, he does not wish to submit it to the AHS for
consideration. The length and depth of his research into BAP use on hosta is
remarkable and commendable, but it is too extensive to fit into the AHS
Journal. As you can see from his table of contents, most of the material in
his new journal is written by Ed himself, and his material alone is probably
longer than the entire next AHS Journal can afford to be. And, he will be
publishing it twice yearly. Without getting into the quality of the material
as I have not yet read it, I will say that Ed is not known for being
concise. That was a big part of the Board decision to accept summary
articles only and not the full collection of research data. The AHS cannot
afford to give Ed the kind of space he wants for his articles, and he does
not want them shortened in any way, but printed exactly as he sends them.
His statement about "recent changes in policy" is frankly misleading to say
the least. There are no recent changes which preclude original scientific
material being included in the AHS Journal. Kevin Walek is the AHS Director
of Publications and on this list. Perhaps he can address this better than I
can, as he would certainly have been involved in policy decisions.
        One of the things the AHS wants to improve in the future is to
sponsor more real scientific research. I've been one of the people arguing
for this. I feel we are getting too far afield and need to get back to some
basic research about the genus, much of which has not yet been done in a
genuine scientific format. The use of DNA markers to identify species and
hybrids, collection and study of species material from native habitats,
research into the causes and nature of differing mutations, studies of the
root systems and the varying waxes, and seeking the answers to many basic
questions that are still unresolved. We are ignoring too much of this basic
research and concentrating too much on specific little areas like causing
dormant buds to initiate, in my opinion. Of course, space in the Journal
must be reserved for reporting on this as it is members' money that will be
paying for it. Most of the Journal editors we've had have been involved in
hybridizing themselves, as have most of the AHS presidents, so there is no
lack of interest on their part. I agree completely that the AHS Journal is
the place for important scientific research into the genus, as well as
hybridizing material, but space there is limited by the amount of money
involved, and by the need to address the interests of those members not
interested in scientific material (which is probably more than 75% of the
membership). Another issue is that few written articles on science and
hybridizing have been submitted to the Journal, so only a very few over the
years have been turned away. The AHS Journal actively seeks such articles
now, and is definitely not trying to turn them away in favor of more garden
write-ups, but it is seeking summary articles in which the results are
reported and discussed as to their importance and relevance, not the full
research pieces themselves. Ed deserves some real credit for his skills in
getting others to write articles of that nature for his Journal. I do not
want to disparage Ed's research in any way, but do agree with the AHS policy
on limiting the amount of it that is published in the Journal. There are
just too many other things that belong in the Journal to continue to devote
the kind of space necessary for his reporting in full on the research he's
done. The only objections I've heard from AHS officials about Ed's journal
concern his intentional distortion of AHS policy and his drawing good
scientific articles away from the AHS Journal to his own publication.
         The current Board is working to address the issue of broadening the
AHS's role and recognizing the various interests of it's members. It is
still a fairly new society (founded 1968) and not without growing pains. It
still has the ability to change and adapt to what it's members want it to
be. It has made mistakes and will make more, but it is moving in the right
direction, one of more diversification, not less.

........Bill Meyer

> John:
> Thanks for the clarification, but I don't think it has too much effect
> on the basic premise of the question I asked.  The North American Lily
> Society has had a situtation not unlike what is occuring in the hosta
> society.  There is a very strong interest in the species lilies, but
> the NALS completely failed to address this interest.  As a result a
> new and seperate group formed and it increases in membership, despite
> some of it's own problems, while NALS membership falls.  There is
> absolutely no reason why the information published in the species
> group newsletter can't be published in the NALS publications.  By the
> way things are going it's not unreasonable that someday in the future
> that the species group may eclipse the original, main society.  It
> seems to me that the hosta society is being rather narrow minded in
> not addressing a major interest of a significent number of its
> members.
> >I'll again rely on what Ed Elslager wrote in his introduction to
> >HostaScience:
> >"You may be aware that recent changes in scientific policy in The
> >Hosta Journal preclude the future publication of original scientific
> >articles such as those published recently on hormone-induced
> >propagation, Hosta College student research, and hybridization.
> Now, how many potential new members are going to be inspired to join
> the society, or maintain a membership if the only thing that is going
> to be published is socially related material such as garden visits.
> >"The specific aims of the journal HostaScience are:
> >To provide rapid communication of important, relevant, and timely
> >science-related information on hosta biology, biochemistry,
> >cultivation, hybridization, and propagation to home gardeners,
> >hybridizers, students, growers, nurserymen, and scientists;
> Can't that be part of the Hosta Journal?  If there is enough interest
> in this type of material that a seperate and independent journal can
> be published and maintain a decent membership base, isn't the hosta
> society failing its membership base by not offering this type of
> information?  The fact that the interest is there seems to be self
> evident to me.
> >To promote collaboration and the interchange of ideas and information
> >among these investigators;
> Sounds like the Hosta Journal could be the perfect venue for this
> function.
> >To stimulate experimentation and research by amateur and professional
> >hosta devotees alike;
> And what better place to publish articles about such reasearch then in
> the Hosta Journal.  I realize the Hosta Journal may not want to
> publish high end scientific research that is directed to the academic
> and research community, but there is a LOT of hosta related material
> of a scientific nature that is not high science that would be welcomed
> by a significent number of Journal readers.
> >To encourage, assist, and facilitate publication of the results of
> >these studies;
> Isn't part of the reason for the existance of the Hosta Society is
> that it is suppose to promote the genus Hosta.  What better way then
> to actually publish articles about hostas.
> >Therefore, it would be incorrect to characterize the journal
> >HostaScience as a publication dedicated to hosta hybridization; that
> >is just one of many topics to be covered.
> In effect, isn't the HostaScience journal and the hybridizers group
> competing with the Hosta Society if hosta hybridizing is only one of
> many topics to be covered.  How many different hosta groups do I have
> to join to get all the information that could easily be published in
> one journal?
> I guess my basic question is why is the Hosta Society shooting it self
> in the foot and then aiming the gun to it's head with an almost full
> chamber?
> BTW, are you related to any Christensen's from Long Island, NY.
> Joe Halinar
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