Forum and email list

Jane McGary via pbs
Sun, 12 Feb 2023 13:02:57 PST
Thank you to Mary Sue for her detailed discussion -- and for her 
tremendous contribution to the PBS wiki. I was another board member who 
preferred the email list to a forum, but when the forum went up I 
registered for it and check it every day now. I haven't mastered the 
posting of photos yet, but I'm not much of a photographer anyway. The 
splitting of the forum posts into many topic areas worried me, and I'm 
still not fond of it; however, users have found ways around strict 
categorization in the Off-topic area.

PBS got occasional complaints about the email list from users who 
objected to the large number of emails they received through it, and did 
not want to deal with the "digest" function. This wasn't a problem for 
me because I filter my email manually before downloading it from the 
provider's webmail site. I had to start doing that because of the way 
membership payment notices come to me via PayPal; the provider insisted 
on dumping them into the spam folder until I turned off the filters. 
Now, if there is a thread that doesn't interest me, such as "hybridizing 
Hippeastrum," I can delete it along with the advertising.

Regarding the admittedly undemocratic way the PBS board is now 
constituted, the subject of Robert Lauf's post, I think it arose 
organically out of the founding of our society. The name "Pacific Bulb 
Society" refers not only to the predominance of western North American 
members at that time, but also to the hope that we would be pacific -- 
i.e., peaceful. Many of our original members were in the International 
Bulb Society (IBS), a long-standing group which was then falling apart 
under the impact of hostile management. Early in the formative years of 
PBS, we in turn had an administrative breakdown which we barely 
survived. It has become a particular concern to avoid adversarial, 
factional, or ideological clashes. This can make the board and the 
various managers look like a clique. Nevertheless, decisions have been 
taken to expand board membership, notably adding European members. The 
call for applicants to the voting positions of vice president and 
secretary -- neither of which requires a large time commitment -- is an 
outreach too.

I have a long history with the North American Rock Garden Society, so I 
know that difficulty in recruiting board members and officers is not 
unique to PBS. I've also been through at least two periods in which a 
president, elected by the relatively few members who had bothered to 
vote, did serious damage to that society. I switched from the PBS 
president's position to my present one as membership coordinator simply 
because the former membership person was unable to continue, and 
maintaining the membership database is an almost daily activity. Robin 
Hansen, the current president, is also the editor of the Bulb Garden 
newsletter because she was the only qualified and willing applicant for 
that task. Arnold Trachtenberg, the treasurer, also handles the 
demanding tasks of getting the Bulb Garden printed and mailed, and 
processing the occasional group book orders.

Do you remember the story of the Little Red Hen? "Who will help me grind 
the wheat?" "Not I," said the cow/pig/duck, etc. ... "Who will help me 
eat the bread?" "I will!" said they all. Apropos to plant societies! 
Please volunteer.

Jane McGary, Membership Coordinator and PBS Board member

On 2/12/2023 11:55 AM, Mary Sue Ittner via pbs wrote:
> Over the years there have been many requests for volunteers to help 
> running this organization and usually not a lot of replies. If you got 
> rid of all of the people who contribute their time without getting 
> anything in return, except for occasional thanks, I expect that would 
> be the end of the Pacific Bulb Society. I for one am very grateful for 
> all the volunteers. I periodically have asked for help with the wiki 
> and for whatever reason, maybe because of the learning curve, it 
> hasn't resulted in the last few years of any sustained help. Dues for 
> this organization are modest and that allows people to participate in 
> the BX and the SX and to get the Bulb Garden and provides money to pay 
> to keep the list, the wiki, the BX/SX, the Bulb Garden, and the forum 
> going. The main job of the Board is to find ways to make sure all of 
> those things continue.
> There was email discussion about forum vs list before the Board made 
> the decision to start a forum. There were many of us who preferred the 
> list, but also others that were unhappy with it. I suspect if there 
> had been a vote there would have been no consensus. And who would you 
> have vote? The list has always been available to people who were not 
> members of the Pacific Bulb Society. So would all of them be allowed 
> to vote even though they do not pay dues? It seems to me that the 
> Board came up with a compromise. They created the forum, but did not 
> do away with the list. The disadvantage to this is that announcements 
> like the BX have to be two places and some people just participate in 
> one or the other so we don't have the rich discussions that we once 
> had. The advantage is that people who were unhappy with the list now 
> have the forum and those people who preferred the list still have it. 
> If David Pilling is able to find a list where it is easy to add photos 
> I'm sure the people who use the list would be grateful.
> David has given so much of his time over the years. I'm not sure how 
> many people recognize this. It was 2009 when the wiki was no longer 
> functional since the software was not being updated and some things no 
> longer worked. We had to convert.  This is one of the times when I 
> asked for help and got it. David volunteered and he has been the main 
> stay of technical help since then. That's 13 years.  It took me a year 
> to fix everything after we converted it to new software. During the 
> conversion a lot of people checked pages for me and reported the 
> mistakes I needed to fix. And a lot of people helped over the years 
> with the wiki, but now there are few. Luckily David continues to help 
> and Martin has spent a lot of time on it as well, but basically it's 
> just the three of us.
> Arnold has been volunteering since 2002, maybe before. He does all the 
> mailings, manages the finances, contacts new members. Jane McGary has 
> put in years and years, was President, before she took over membership 
> and writes for the Bulb Garden. Diane Whitehead has been helping with 
> the list for years and years. And there are many others who have 
> helped for a long time. Robin is editing the Bulb Garden AND being the 
> President. Who would you replace? PBS is lucky that they have 
> continued to help. It would be really unfortunate if posts like the 
> one from Robert led to resignations.
> Mary Sue
> On 2/12/2023 8:42 AM, Robert Lauf via pbs wrote:
>>   Yes, it would be nice to allow members to vote on lots of things, 
>> but the PBS governance model appears to be patterned on that of 
>> Cuba.  The Board essentially elects its own members from a list of 
>> candidates they select via an arbitrary, capricious, and completely 
>> opaque process, much like the Politburo.  We were recently 
>> (inadvertently) given a glimpse into the inner workings and attitudes 
>> at the Mother Ship and it wasn't a pretty picture.  Nor surprisingly, 
>> many excellent people have better things to do than try to improve 
>> things in the face of resistance, secrecy, and outright abuse.  Is it 
>> any wonder that volunteers are hard to find in this environment?
>> It's time to send a few of the Commissars off the the Gulag and start 
>> over.  Just my opinion, but feel free to make it your own.
>> Bob  Zone 7
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