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Old 01-27-2009, 09:07 AM   #161
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I will not post again. Thank you for straightening me out. I know realize that it is I who have the wrong perception. Thank you for helping me see the light. Good luck to all of you.
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Old 01-27-2009, 09:56 AM   #162
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Actually, I think you are making my point for me, although it’s not clear without following the history of the discussion. It has been spread over a number of posts so I have quoted the pertinent statements.

Gene’s original question, and my answer, were,

2. Why doesn't an organization that has so much going for it in terms of tradition and history not have 20,000 or 30,000 members? There are more Airstreams on the road all the time; why not more and more WBCCI members?

Among other things because every organization that has much going for it in terms of tradition and history is losing members. Can you name one national or international participatory membership organization that is growing? You name it--fraternal organizations, service organizations, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc., etc. They're all losing members--because membership in such organizations is no longer popular.

(Not counting "mailing list" organizations like the Audubon Society and the National Rifle Association which are doing very well, but are no longer the participatory organizations that they once were.)
You replied,

Well, some organizations are growing... particularly those volunteer associations focused on a "cause" or "mission." I belong to a few and would be delighted to see even more volunteers.
In response to which I asked,

Could you name some? As I say, practically the long-time participation-based organizations that I know of are shrinking--and very concerned about it.
To which you replied,

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation began in 1984. It has steadily grown to about 150,000 members. (I'm a life member.) People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals began in 1980. It has steadily grown to about 2 million members (I'm not a member). Facebook, a social networking site began in 2004. It has added 150 million active users in four years. (My daughters twisted my arm to join). I would call this strong growth.
Do you see my point? My original statement was “every organization that has much going for it in terms of tradition and history is losing members.” I was referring to long-time local-participation like fraternal organizations, service clubs, which incidentally, go back a long time. Local members meet face-to-face at some intervals and engage in local activities. Many of these organizations own (or used to own) real estate—lodges, clubhouses, etc. The WBCCI falls into that category of organizations – and they’re all shrinking.

Now look at the organizations that you named. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and PETA both started in the 80’s, meaning that they are not organizations representing “tradition and history” but rather new. I would also wager that they are what Putnam refers to in his book Bowling Alone as “mailing list organizations”—the main participation of the vast majority of their member’s participation consists of mailing in their dues and other contributions (for which they are continually exhorted).

Yes, I’m sure PETA has some local chapters that engage in occasional activities like throwing Molotov cocktails and spraying paint on fur coats, but the vast majority of the claimed 2 million members only send in money now and then.

Which brings us to a second point, political organizations like PETA and organizations which derive their revenue from the sale of advertising, like Airforums and Facebook, find it expedient to inflate their membership for public relations purposes. We have already noted that 90% of the claimed Airforums members post little or nothing and many have not visited the site in years. “Once a member, always a member” when it suits your book to have a lot of members. How about PETA? Does that 2 million members mean people who are up to date on their dues (like WBCCI its membership) or is that the number who have ever sent any contribution. I’ll bet it ‘s the latter.

The point of all of which is that no matter what WBCCI does, it’s swimming against the tide. Who knows, maybe we are heading toward a future where everybody will sit in front of their computers all the time participating in a virtual society where nobody will ever see each other. That would seem to be the lesson of Facebook.

One postscript—all of you folks on Airforums who are not WBCCI members, offering advice to those of us who are, appear to be laboring under the misconception that we have any say-so in how WBCCI is run. We don’t. The constitution of the organization was set up in such a way that the International officers pick their own successors from a select pool of candidates—the Region officers—who they have had years to closely observe and indoctrinate. Last year when a few members ran from the floor for International office against the candidates selected by the International Nominating Committee, two of them were rewarded by disciplinary action for their temerity. Change comes very slowly to the WBCCI.
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Old 01-27-2009, 10:36 AM   #163
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Hi CUZ ROB and 62 Overlander.
I thank U Both for your generous offers.THANKS SO MUCH. My problem is not with either of U, that are hard working for your unit to grow and have fun. ITs actually with the HIGH POTITATES of the Orignation that run things as they please at the expense and I mean expense of the hard work of others,that's what I have a problem with. Nuvite-F I see why u belong to a unit in Wis or somewhere, cause the local aint done nuffin since 2005, at least that anyone knows about.But the president of the local attended the last national at no cost to her. I can't prove that be she got real defensive when I mentioned it.I thought her or her husband was gonna rip my head off for a second there.
Rob I hope to see you and the family again this yr.
Roger & MaryLou
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AIR # 22336 TAC- OH-7
May your roads be straight and smooth and may you always have a tailwind!
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Old 01-27-2009, 10:44 AM   #164
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Nuvite, I appreciate your attempt to get back to one of my basic questions. I accept that many organizations are shrinking and WBCCI is one of them. Not having the numbers for all sorts of organizations in front of me, I don't know if those others are having the same percentage drop in numbers as WBCCI. What I do know is the WBCCI decline is serious and getting more so.

So, move on to my last question from a post which seems years ago—what to do about it?

It seems to be very difficult to change leadership in the national organization. The quote I have included below indicates your concern with the way the organization is set up to perpetuate the same attitudes.

Originally Posted by Nuvite-F View Post

One postscript—all of you folks on Airforums who are not WBCCI members, offering advice to those of us who are, appear to be laboring under the misconception that we have any say-so in how WBCCI is run. We don’t. The constitution of the organization was set up in such a way that the International officers pick their own successors from a select pool of candidates—the Region officers—who they have had years to closely observe and indoctrinate. Last year when a few members ran from the floor for International office against the candidates selected by the International Nominating Committee, two of them were rewarded by disciplinary action for their temerity. Change comes very slowly to the WBCCI.
The situation is one which democracy is a sham in practice. This is common in many organizations in one form or another, but in the WBCCI it appears the message has been lately that anyone who challenges the leadership will be punished (whether it be Bob Thompson or members at large). I hope more people run for leadership positions from the floor at the next opportunity and there is better organization. It looks like it will takes several years to change things. Change is difficult and the situation seems so daunting that many will just go camping and hope for the best. Others will fight for change even though they too may get disciplined.

I know hardly anyone likes to get unsolicited advice, especially from an outsider. I can't speak for Hampstead, but I expect his motive is the same as mine—I see an important organization declining, and declining much more quickly, and hope to see it turn around and become relevant to more Airstreamers, myself included. It's that simple. We are trying to help. It's obvious, Nuvite, you see more than one side of the argument and that you would like change too. Maybe not the same change, but some sort of change. I hope that you and others do get some "say so" in running the WBCCI.

I don't think we are headed to a future where we all sit in our relaxing chairs and participate only by computer like in Wally-E. We will still be the same humans with human needs to get together in various ways. Something will evolve, somewhat different, but not all that different in grand scale of human needs. I don't know what it'll be either.

Disclaimers and other thoughts: For the record, I don't like curry, so I don't go to Indian restaurants. I do like certain Thai dishes and lots of spicy Mexican ones. Also, I am sure many people enjoy and love WBCCI rallies. That's fine. I'm not writing about that. I'm writing about the future of the organization and how many more members are quitting than joining. There seems to be a problem not at the smaller local rallies judging from the many posts about rallies, but at the larger rallies in some regions or nationally, and in the governance of the national organization. I use words like "my impression", "it seems" and "I think" to be honest about what I have deduced from what I have read. I try not to make absolute statements when I may not be absolutely sure. There is, in my opinion, nothing wrong with figuring things out from a collection of information, some fact, some opinion, much from members of the organization. Personal observation is useful, but not the only way to learn. Often personal observation is biased by previous experience. For example, witnesses to an accident will each have a different story about what happened. Figuring things out isn't easy and lively discussion can (hopefully) end up with agreement of what really is happening distilled from facts, educated guesses, personal observation, impressions, and all the rest.

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Old 01-27-2009, 11:18 AM   #165
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If I am making your point, Nuvite, perhaps it is because the point is moving. You asked for examples of growing membership organizations. I provided some. If you want examples of older membership organizations that are growing... I'll dig some up. But you've created another category... "active" organizations versus "mailing list" organizations.

While I cannot speak with authority about PETA, the RMEF has a very active membership base. The 150,000 members exist in local chapters throughout the U.S. Some members are very active serving on comittees. Others just pay the annual dues and attend the local fundraising banquet. I was around when the RMEF had less than 10,000. When the RMEF was still small, I can personally assure you that the volunteer activity level was at least equal to the WBCCI.

One of the reasons it has 150,000 members now is the hard work that far fewer volunteers did. In addition, it's a "mission-based" organization rather than a social club. The RMEF has preserved millions of acres of elk habitat and transplanted elk into the eastern U.S. where herds are now thriving. In general, I think "cause" organizations have done better than social organizations with respect to membership.

With less than 10,000 members, it's a bit easier for a higher percentage of WBCCI members to "active" than any volunteer organization with millions of members. This is also a rather dangerous turn in the rhetorical road because many of these organizations you might characterize as "mailing list" groups have deeply committed and active members in numbers far exceeding the WBCCI. Would you call Habitat for Humanity a mailing list group? How about the American Red Cross? You wanted old, big and growing organizations... the Red Cross began in 1863 and has over one million members. After Katrina hit, not all one million members dropped everything and rushed to the gulf coast... but some did.

Frankly, Nuvite, you are doing exactly what made Frank flap his arms wildly. You are making judgments about organizations where you seem to have no basis. At least I've made a point of reading the WBCCI information, the WBCCI posts on this forum, the Blue Book (mostly). I did a little research on membership trends, read things written by WBCCI officers and things written by those no longer involved. How much, exactly, did you read about PETA before you decided to wager that they are a mailing list organization? I enjoy civil discourse, Nuvite, but either we both agree to do our homework or we both agree that we're going to freewheel along.

As for Airforums, we've moved well beyond the membership versus membership issue (though it seems one you hold on to with some fondness). I posted the web activity for the WBCCI site and this site. I find this far more interesting than your 90 percent assertion. Look at the web traffic this site generates with respect hits, cookies, individual visitors, etc. It is the Internet destination for Airstream enthusiasts. Certainly, not all of these visitors actually own an Airstream, but many do. So, Nuvite, what's the more important assertion to explore... that 90 percent of Airstream forum members allegedly never post or that 90 percent of Airstream owners are not members of the WBCCI?
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Old 01-27-2009, 01:27 PM   #166
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Question What exactly IS the point?

Here's the thing. I disagree with very little that's been said here. The WBCCI has some serious problems and it has been in decline for many years. Where I work has serious problems too, with simply abysmal leadership at the top. Moreover, the town I grew up in is about to implode (with significant Madoff-scandal repercussions as the lovely cherry on top ). And I have absolutely no problem respectfully letting those who are in power know how I feel. But make no mistake, in these changing institutions I still find tremendous satisfaction....

When I go bowling nowadays I am usually "Bowling Alone." By that I mean that I am no longer in a bowling league. That was some 15-20 years ago. My bowling league became a social activity that I decided to walk away from. I don't even know if it still exists. Probably not, but I really can't say.

I think it is safe to say, however, that membership and participation in nearly every major civic and social group in America has declined over the past forty years and that we are becoming an increasingly isolated, anonymous collection of non-neighbors. Short of a crisis to bring us all together, it will take both collective and individual initiative to renew civic and social engagement and a lot of it.

As far as the WBCCI is concerned, I think its leaders, its members, and everyone still reading this post need to come up with someting all Airstreamers can get into. Something to capture the imagination and galvanize us, not divide us. New structures and policies need to be created that foster growth. For example, community service projects; family and civic-friendly units; active and tolerant units; fun activities; cultural activities; new destinations; Adventure....

Bottom line: the WBCCI needs to reconnect with our friends and neighbors.
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