Wednesday, August 09, 2006

FOSSILS elections approaching ... legacies up for grabs.


I'm turning over today's space to Beth Howard, whose piece in the current FOSSILS homebrewing and beer appreciation club newsletter strikes a responsive chord in me.

But first ...

While in Orlando, Tom Moench and I reminisced about the halcyon days of the early- to mid-1990's, when the craft beer revolution was exploding -- and heading toward its inevitable implosion, a dialectically necessary culling of weak links that has left us with a far stronger beer culture than before.

The gist of our discussion was that my own radicalism (somewhat surprisingly, people actually remember it) is somewhat muted of late, a product perhaps of growing old, of feeling more secure, of being in a better place in terms of success in building a culture of good beer locally -- for any number of reasons, really, and maybe none at all. I suppose the passing of time is funny that way.

When monolithic entities like Anheuser-Busch realize that they cannot create craft beer from scratch and must instead buy the existing brands that have earned it, it's a back-handed concession that such companies have no role to play in the legacy of beer as it was meant to be.

Beth's article isn't about these sort of "macro" legacies, but about our own local "micro" legacies and the importance of preserving them. Consider joining FOSSILS. Admittedly, my personal involvement has waned somewhat, and yet this doesn't mean my commitment to the group is gone. The club will be 16 years old in September, and now's as good a time as any for a second wind.

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FOSSILS Officers: The Power & The Prestige ... An Editorial-ish Challenge from Beth Howard.

Yes, it’s true…power and prestige are just two of the reasons you should consider serving your club as a FOSSILS officer. Other reasons vary per individual, but suggested motivating factors also include beer, getting to stand on tables at meetings to make announcements, being in charge of petty cash, having people get pissed at you when you do or say something they don’t like, wielding the femur of power like a warrior (especially when people get pissed at you when you do or say something they don’t like), making the decisions on dates/times/locations/beer menu at club events, being hoarse on Monday mornings after yelling over the crowd at FOSSILS meetings on Sunday nights, being part of the rich and vibrant beer culture of our community and, of course, the beer.

Keep these opportunities in mind as we head toward September when FOSSILS will open the floor for club officer nominations. As of right now, there will be vacancies for three FOSSILS offices: President, Vice-President and Secretary. Denny Stapp has expressed his interest in continuing as club Treasurer.

But there is another reason to consider becoming a FOSSILS officer – legacy. Indulge me for a moment, please, while I elaborate.

I wasn’t there, but I think it’s safe to say the early days of FOSSILS (circa 1990) were quite different than the club we know today. At that time, most club members were Rich O’s regulars and most Rich O’s customers were FOSSILS members. Club communications were probably a bit more straightforward – you’d just lean over to the table next to you to chat with the other club members there about the next FOSSILS meeting or matter of business.

Newer FOSSILS probably don’t realize that the club’s newsletter, Walking the Dog, used to be produced in-house at Rich O’s. Roger served as editor-in-chief, primary contributing writer, and wrangler of contributing writers as well as doing the layout and production on the newsletter … not to mention the photocopying, stapling and stamp licking involved with distribution. And he accomplished this while managing a business, mind you. Pretty damn phenomenal, especially considering the quality content of Walking the Dog.

This was well before the days of e-mail, e-newsletters and blogs so the editorial content of The Dog reflected a distinctive attitude for the club and thereby served an integral role in FOSSILS culture. It contained not only club news and events, but served as a forum for beer and non-beer related opinions on a local, national and international level, included witty fiction, chronicled beer travel adventures of club members and even book and music reviews on occasion. Some people joined FOSSILS just so they could receive a copy of this much-anticipated newsletter in their mailbox each month.

Roger resigned as editor of the club newsletter in 2004 after nearly 15 years at the helm. Today, several members collaborate to research, write and publish The Dog electronically and post it each month at http://www.fossils.org/. The Dog is primarily and unabashedly operational in nature – assuring that club activities, events and news are distributed to members in a timely manner. It’s how we stay in touch with FOSSILS-centric info, which works well because now we have, among other things, Pulicanista! for Rich O’s/Sportsime/NABC news and can log on to Roger’s NA Confidential or Potable Curmudgeon blogs to get our fix of Roger-isms and his take on the planet.

Just as with our communication styles and methods, change is inevitable for FOSSILS as a club. Organizational dynamics, especially in social clubs, indicate patterns of involvement and disenchantment … ardent support and apathy … floundering membership numbers and robust membership growth. Membership numbers indicate that FOSSILS is indeed growing – perhaps not always in the direction the founding members expected it to but also perhaps also in ways they could never have imagined.

Our club’s growing pains have been evident over the past few years as FOSSILS hit the 15-year mark with club leaders having to address unusual, unexpected and sometimes unwarranted obstacles in keeping the club alive. If you’ve not thanked them for their tenacity, their ingenuity and the countless hours of behind-the-scenes work and worry that kept the FOSSILS engine running relatively smoothly, you should. You should maybe even buy them a beer next time you see them. They’ve taken a lot a grief along with sharing a lot of laughs and a sense of accomplishment…and without them, FOSSILS could have quite possibly seen extinction several years ago.

We’re fortunate that several founding members are still active and engaged in club activities. Come to think of it, maybe we should all buy them a beer or two next time we see them, too. And while other FOSSILS founders and original members may not be as close at hand as they once were or may have drifted away, their legacy of a launching and championing a revolution in the name of good beer remains with us as the FOSSILS members of today.

Thanks to current FOSSILS leadership, we have our land legs back as a club with solid footing from financial, operational and communications standpoints.

Now it’s time for us to turn up the volume on that revolutionary spirit, circa FOSSILS 2006. Are you up for the challenge as President, Vice President or Secretary of FOSSILS?

Rumor has it that some are. We’ll find out for sure on September 10.

1 comment:

Beth H said...

Appreciate the post, Roger.