Topic of the Week

Mary Sue Ittner
Sat, 08 Nov 2003 11:59:23 PST
Dear All,

I want to thank the people who responded privately and publicly to my 
request for help on the topic of the week and to those who were generous in 
their support and appreciation. I have considered all the input and have 
some ideas about how to move forward, but this can still change.

First off I would like to announce that Diane Whitehead has kindly agreed 
to pursue her suggestion for focusing once a month on what to do that 
month. In her usual organized fashion she has already thought how to break 
it down and is now looking for a Southern Hemisphere partner. The first 
week of the month she will be in charge and that will relieve me of 12 
topics a year. So thanks go to Diane. This will start in December.

When we were organizing the topic of the week last year, Lauw suggested we 
spread a topic out over two weeks and I have tried it a couple of times. I 
think he was thinking since we are all busy this would give people more 
time to respond. It has been my observation that few topics last that long. 
Most don't even last a whole week unless the moderator or the coordinator 
(me) continues to make comments and ask questions. Some of those late in 
the week insertions have often brought out valuable information and I would 
encourage everyone to help out with this. If the topic is moving, I can 
remain silent and will have time for other things.

When I asked people if they wanted the topic of the week and asked how they 
were willing to participate a lot of people weren't willing to do 
introductions but they were willing to ask questions and share their 
experience. It would really help if more of you who said you would do this 
will speak up on those topics you are interested in. A good question is 
very valuable as it often elicits information you would never get any other 

I have a number of suggested topics that won't require a long introduction 
so I will continue to do at least one of those a month. A few people have 
promised introductions in the future so hopefully I can come up with at 
least one of those a month too. Mark McDonough suggested if I was really 
stuck I could announce a genus and ask for those who grow it to come 
forward and share their experiences. I also think I could recycle topics. 
Only one person commented on this and thought we should stick with new 
topics, but these introductions are about four years old and I would 
suspect that even those few people who read them may not remember them. I 
often find it very interesting to review an old topic for something I might 
not have been interested at the time and even some I was interested in I 
may have missed some significant points.

In addition if I know that any of you are really interested in a specific 
genus you may hear from me asking you to do an introduction even if no one 
has requested it. And I'd hope you'd say yes. Introductions do not have to 
be elaborate. Since I have no idea who to ask to do introductions about 
some of those genera suggested and only John Ingram came forward offering 
to help with a few of them, I am a bit stuck. I know that we have people 
who would like to talk about hardier bulbs, but I need resources for these. 
I am much more knowledgeable about resources for things I might be able to 
grow. So if it seems we focus more on Mediterranean topics that is because 
I know people I can ask about them.

Another idea I would like to throw out to consider and hope to get some 
feedback on is having a monthly topic on what is blooming in the garden 
that month. I find it very interesting when I get my IBSA newsletter to see 
which plants were brought for display each month. On the other hand listing 
plants could get a bit boring so perhaps people may not want to do this. 
But for those wanting to have year round bloom in their gardens if we did 
this and people from both hemispheres participated, we would begin to have 
an idea of what to plant in different parts of the world for continuous 
bloom. It would be important for people to include their geographical 
information when they responded. We could do this for a year at least. That 
would leave me most months with just coming up with one topic to try to 
find someone to introduce or occasionally two.

I appreciate the offer to let me catch my breath that came from a few of 
you and will certainly choose to do that if I send a bunch of emails and 
get no responses. One thing I would like to do in December is to review the 
Urls from last year. Diane has agreed to gather together all the useful 
Urls presented last year and check to see if they are still operational. I 
would like to compile the urls for all the members of this list who have a 
web site. If you were a member of our group last December and nothing has 
changed you do not need to respond to me. If you have joined our group 
since then or added a web site or changed your web site please contact me 
privately with that information. I may have it, but then again I may not so 
I'd rather err on the side of getting information I already have. I for one 
want to support the members of this list when I think of buying seeds and 
bulbs. So once a year this is your chance for free advertising.

By the way Lauw defined what he thought was needed to make the topic of the 
week work. He did it because he thought it was a way to divide the job up 
if I could find volunteers for any parts of the job. I think he has really 
focused on the important aspects and when I looked at what he wrote, I 
thought no wonder I feel burned out! Anyone out there who is willing to 
help out with any of this for one or more topics will get my appreciation 
and that of the whole group as well.

planning the calendar of topics
finding competent persons to introduce the topics
finding and representing previous relevant postings
finding literature references
'animate' the discussions when it is stalling and concluding the period

Mary Sue

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