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Old 06-30-2006, 04:42 PM   #1
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Bowling Alone

The vote is now behind us...so what is the next step? I think a quote from another thread, by the NEU delegate, sums it up rather nicely: "Now to get back to the real work of making this a club more folks want to be a part of."

Along those same lines, I want to mention a book I'm reading called "Bowling Alone," by Robert Putnam. He discusses the social changes in society that show how Americans have become more disconnected from family, friends and social structures such as Lions Club, Knight of Columbus, PTA, bowling leagues, Masons, etc. WBCCI is yet another social structure that is going thru the same declining membership pains. These clubs and organizations had an explosive growth period in the 50's and 60's and they are all now suffering from a membership decline. The author blames the membership decline on pressures of time and money, mobility and sprawl, along with technology and mass media.

I'm still working my way through the book so haven't reached the part yet where the author offers up possible solutions to the social disconnection problem. Has anyone finished the book yet? What did you think of it?

The challenge is now before us -- what can we do to make this a club more folks want to be a part of?
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Old 06-30-2006, 05:15 PM   #2
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Glad you brought it up. You mentioned this book to me before and I couldn't remember the title/author. I may take up reading again, if I can drag myself away from the mobility, sprawl, technology mass media...
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Old 06-30-2006, 05:22 PM   #3
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Well, we can start by shutting down Airstreamforums.com, so people will have to join the club and go to rallies to talk about all things alluminum...




good heavens, what am I saying?!?!?




Seriously, though, this is part of it. society is just changing. we have busier lives, spread across more geography...commutes, long hours, etc. We fill the void (in part) with the internet. its just a different kind of community.
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Old 06-30-2006, 05:57 PM   #4
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Well, we can start by shutting down Airstreamforums.com, so people will have to join the club and go to rallies to talk about all things alluminum...good heavens, what am I saying?!?!? Seriously, though, this is part of it. society is just changing. we have busier lives, spread across more geography...commutes, long hours, etc. We fill the void (in part) with the internet. its just a different kind of community.
The Internet has enabled communities of narrow and specific interests to form and prosper without regard to geographic distance, whereas the older "bowling league" and community service organizations were based primarily on geographical proximity coupled with a lack of wide choices or variety that was available only in communities having large population density, i.e., very large cities. I'm more social today but have less human contact with nearby folks, replaced by more electronic contact with distant folks who share common interests. I get fewer colds but more viruses.
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Old 06-30-2006, 10:26 PM   #5
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My problem with a lot of in-person social groups is that you have to meet up with the expectations of people. You have to dress right, act right, say grace at their meals and stand for a pledge of allegiance, hold hands for group prayers, and explain why we have no kids. People treat me funny when I show up by myself to a car club meeting (which is 99% guys, and some wives who tag along). Even at the WBCCI I've seen rallys where the guys go do one activity (like a maintenance seminar) while the ladies do another (shopping or a tea party). You can guess how that works, I want to go to the seminar and my hubby wants to go shopping.

On the internet you can just be yourself. Nobody cares if you're a man or woman, black or white, short or tall, old or young. It's like we've found a better way to socialize. And we can do it for free and in our leasure time without leaving the house.

I feel pretty well socialized, how about you?
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Old 06-30-2006, 11:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by yukionna
The challenge is now before us -- what can we do to make this a club more folks want to be a part of?
A name change, perhaps?
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Old 07-01-2006, 07:02 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by yukionna
The author blames the membership decline on pressures of time and money, mobility and sprawl, along with technology and mass media.

...

The challenge is now before us -- what can we do to make this a club more folks want to be a part of?
With the time and money problem, I think it would be good to look at how rallies are done. I fall into the 40-something with kids and busy life category and I'm finding the rallies that fit us best are the rendezvous or renegade rallies. The more planned-out the rallies are, the harder it is to commit to them and all the planning that revolves around them.

Technology and mass media seem to me more of a help than a hindrance in getting people together to revive the clubs (e.g. Airstreamforums, SaveWally.org ). But with mostly older, volunteer-based clubs, it's taking a heck of a long time for technology to come into place and be used effectively in the workings of the club. The forum works well, people come together naturally because they have a common interest (Airstream) and can pick and choose their topics and the people they'll hang out with over the net. This isn't something that happens easily with a WBCCI unit. All kinds of people at different points-of-view and stages of life set aside time to get out with their Airstream and other owners of Airstream, and they sometimes have very different ideas about what they want from the rally and club experience. It's a lot of commitment going in when the only thing you know for sure you have in common with other members are geographic proximity and Airstream ownership.

Sorry for the rambling. It's a good topic, Yuki. Lots to think about.
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Old 07-01-2006, 08:22 AM   #8
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My wife and I just returned from a car club tour and will host the cars tomorrow as they head back to AZ. A friend with a new AS will be arriving today to hang out with our car club buddies and await the arrival of the Great Race tomorrow afternoon. BTW, several of the car club members also own AS's and one of our tours was to the Shady Dell in Bisbee AZ.

Quite frankly, organizations like WBCCI tend to become so organized that they turn people off. Fun is in doing spur of the moment activities. I can phone or email some friends and have something going by the end of the month that will include 9 -12 AS owners along with owners of SOB.

We've been RV'ing for 20 + years and have had more than our share of fun. I've come to the conclusion that AS ownership and WBCCI membership have unintentionally become elitist. I have just as much fun with owners of SOB as I do with AS owners.

Let's see how long it takes to see the "save wally" icons go away.
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Old 07-01-2006, 09:02 AM   #9
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I think we "Bowl Alone" because we can. My guess is that in the past you were forced to interact more. Now there are so many choices in life to occupy your time. Not all of them good. Neither is the loss of the social group a good thing. I am very isolated in my social life. I have friends from my surfing, but we just run into eachother at the beach and that's about it. A party once or twice a year put on by a more social surfer than the others. My wife and I 'Stream alone. And actually do bowl alone from time to time. Other people usually wind up complicating my life. Cold hearted SOB, aren't I? Jamie
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Old 07-01-2006, 11:38 AM   #10
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I see some pockets of light....

I attended a rally seminar here at International where the presenter is a big supporter of change and in the short time we had tried to help folks think outside of the box.

I saw a young woman (20 something) represent her Unit as their delegate - speak against the name change and share her view of the importance of Wally Byam to our club.

I've had members of other Units come up to me and ask how the NEU is attracting new members - really trying to understand our success, ready to make an effort to impact change in their own Unit so that they can be sucessful in attracting and retaining new members.

But, these are still just pockets of light. During the Delegates Meeting (5 bum-numbing hours sitting on bad chairs wearing white shirts, red ties and blue berets, listening to Roberts Rules and Points of Order - and this is a camping club?) the fellow who proposed the name change addressed the group and said something that I believe just may be true. He said (and this is not an exact quote): "Some of the older members understand the club is dying, but instead of accepting change for the survival club they are just hoping the club out lives them."
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Old 07-01-2006, 11:49 AM   #11
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Flag rules are also a big sticking point, but that's somebody else's pet peeve at the moment and I missed how that motion turned out on the floor. I'll have to get the scoop on that one.
What was up with the flag rules? I have to admit, that's a pet peeve of mine. I think if someone wants to fly the flag, good for them. I don't think people should be coming around and telling them they're doing it wrong. Anyone flying an American flag is a good thing in my opinion, no matter how they fly it.

I also think people should be able to fly unofficial flags, wind socks, and pirate flags if they want. That anyone needs to check pages and pages of rules to make sure you're doing something by-the-book just makes my head hurt. It flys in the face of what a camping club is supposed to be, in my opinion.

I'm very patriotic, but I wouldn't dare try to fly the flag on my trailer when there's good odds I'd be pounced upon by WWII vetrans telling me I was doing it wrong. That's just not worth the headache when I'm out camping!
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Old 07-01-2006, 11:56 AM   #12
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I think you'll find that amongst regular members (we are the majority by the way) there are a whole bunch of campers that happen to love their trailers and like to hang with people that feel the same way. Elite? I don't think so -- it's just the 50's regimented pomp and circumstance and these AWFUL uniforms people subject themselves to that move opinions in that direction. Flag rules are also a big sticking point, but that's somebody else's pet peeve at the moment and I missed how that motion turned out on the floor. I'll have to get the scoop on that one.
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This failed - meaning it will not be put to vote in Perry GA at the 2007 International. I was surprised by the result, as I'm of the same mind as the fellow who proposed the change to the flag rules. Folks should be able to fly whatever flags (and as many flags) they want. Even though the flag rules are still in place I plan to keep flying my "unapproved" flags at WBCCI events - sometimes you've just got to break the rules to get the powers that be to begin to review and change the rules.
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Old 07-01-2006, 01:44 PM   #13
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...Even though the flag rules are still in place...
if I may be so bold, just what exactly are these "flag rules" of which you speak?
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Old 07-01-2006, 02:02 PM   #14
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I don't even really know. I just keep hearing them referred to. We need a Blue Book to find out. I got a peek at them once, I saw they specify who can fly what, how tall poles must be, the angle between the poles, stuff like that.
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