Thursday, June 4, 2015

Welcome To The Club

Clubs and memberships are a part of life. We've all been in one or another. Some of us are card-carrying members, others are members in name only - the ones who are on a roster but never show up. Some go through life jumping from one club or membership to the next in an attempt to make a name, build a resume, or just to keep busy. Clubs and memberships mean a lot to some people and less to others, maybe those that have been burned by a club. Facebook and LinkedIn always ask you to add groups/organizations and memberships to your profile. It uses these groups to find you friends whether you want them or not.

I can't really think of any groups I was part of in High School. No debate team or yearbook club for this guy. Played a few sports, which are clubs of their own, but no high school clubs.

In college I got into a couple of associations. The first was the University of Minnesota Association of Geographers, or UMAG for short. It was a fledgling group of students who got together monthly in a conference room and listened to a visiting professor or graduate student talk about their current project du jour. It was fun being around others with similar interests and studies, mostly because none of us were sure what we were going to do with a degree in Geography. Luckily, that worked out rather well for me, having reached 30 years in the profession just this week.
Anthropology Prez. at the Anth. Annual Conference


The other college group was the U of M Anthropology Club. It too was fledgling, but had a bigger draw - believe it or not - than UMAG, and actually put together an annual conference every year. The conference was usually held at the Mississippi River Headwaters near lake Itasca. It was a beautiful setting where we pulled in speakers from all over the state to give workshops and presentations. We even tried to get Harrison Ford to Keynote one year. Indiana Jones was all the rage in the Archeology world at the time. I think we even got a letter back from him mentioning he was flattered but would have to pass. I ended up as the Club President my senior year, a position with about as much clout as it sounds. It was A LOT of fun. I'll always look back at those years at the U of M as some of the best. (I might add the group is still around and doing quite well.)

Once we enter the working world, there are new groups and memberships to be a part of. Some of the professional groups I've been a part of have the strangest acronyms.

IGUG - Intergraph Graphics Users Group (Now defunct but a big software and hardware manufacturer in the late 80's and early 90's.)

EWUG - ESRI Wisconsin User Group. (ESRI makes the GIS software we use and this is a Wisconsin user group that meets annually to share ideas and network.)

SEWETUG - SouthEastern WI ESRI Technical User Group. (Like above except for SE WI only)

One of the credentials us GIS Map geeks can earn is GISP or GIS Professional. This is an experience, education and contribution based credential meant to denote a level professional experience. I've had mine for 10 years and just renewed for another 5 years.

Then there's the club that no one wants to be a part of, American Association of Retire Persons. Got that card a few years ago at age 50. Actually bought into it for a year, never used it once, let it lapse, and haven't renewed. Maybe someday. Or not.

I suppose my AllWriters writing workshop is a club of sorts, even though it isn't named as such. We support one another, there's fees (every 10 weeks, tuition) and though we welcome anyone, we attract mostly serious writers. More recently I joined the Wisconsin Writers Association for much the same reason - networking and camaraderie.

And I guess our churches are clubs too. Most even have membership classes to join to lay out the tenets of the church. It is the goal of CollectiveMKE, the church we are currently starting up, to not be a club - we welcome anyone - but I'm not sure we can get away from it. If we claim to welcome anyone, well, we're part of the "welcome anyone club," aren't we? Well, I guess it's better than the alternative.

I encourage you to look back at your clubs, memberships, and associations over your life. They can tell you a lot about what's important, maybe what you were striving for or the name you were trying make for yourself.

Blogging off...

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