Written in 2008
In the last two years the SNU has done a lot of growing. In fact, since 2003 over 90% of the membership is new. Because of all the changes it is probably a good idea to stop and reflect on our Unit. What is it? what does it offer us? Why do we belong? What power does it provide we do not have individually? How to we keep it strong, healthy, and growing?
The SNU didn't get where it is today by accident. The way it functions, what it does, and how it does things was planned. It was based on proven association management techniques and organizational development theory. The identity of the SNU was carefully identified and reinforced over a period of years. The challenge ahead is to keep this identity and its mission focus while adapting to the needs and capabilities of the membership.
Any organization evolves but it must do so by preserving its core identity and values. It will be influenced by its membership in responding to member needs, interests, and capabilities. It is a primary responsibility of each member to contribute to the strength of the organization in order to gain those benefits they joined the organization to obtain. Members do this by constructive and responsible participation in the organization's events and processes. Members must learn about the SNU and how it works and work within that framework when acting on behalf or in support of the the organization. The framework can change but it should do so in an appropriate manner as a group activity and not as an individual activity.
Members must do two things to meet their responsibilities. One is to learn about the SNU, its history, and the principles that have helped it grow. The other is to consider what they do as members and how it will help to make the organization strong and vital.
There are two key concepts that provide the basis for the current SNU identity. One is the focus on the primary mission of WBCCI – to go camping in Airstreams. The other is that the SNU is a group working together rather than a collection of individuals. These two concepts provide the referent for evaluating actions and decisions of members and of the group as a whole. These actions and decisions are recorded in the bylaws and constitution and the way the SNU does rallies, newsletters, the website, and interactions with members and potential members.
Much of what makes the SNU successful is not visible on the surface. A lot of it is in the details. It is often those details, which on their own seem insignificant can collectively make a big difference. Whether it is apparent or not everything is designed with the group as a whole in mind. Examples include:
The SNU's efforts at respecting individual preferences. This is apparent in our communications methods, our flexibility in regards to participation, as well as our management of member information. The SNU uses a variety of communication methods including the internet and snail mail to enable members to receive the newsletter and other communications in a manner of their choice. The subscription email announcement list was set up as a way to offer members the ability to make their own choice about whether or not they wish to receive email communications from the SNU and also to comply with current spam laws. Member information such as phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses are for use only by SNU members for SNU purposes. Communications are coordinated and consolidated to minimize unnecessary efforts and reduce confusion.
The SNU's efforts to carry out it's business with due diligence. The SNU is cognizant of copyright laws and issues. It uses public domain maps for rally sites. In recognition of spam filters and other technologies, it send out an email announcement to subscribers with a link to the current newsletter posted on the web rather than attaching the newsletter file to the email.
The work of the SNU is a team effort. It may be a small team working on a specific project or the entire membership carrying out the business of the Unit. By working together we can take advantage of the skills, expertise, experiences, and knowledge of each individual member. It means any project involving SNU resources, including ongoing efforts such as the PSA's, the newsletter and the rally schedule as well as one time efforts such a special event rally or new publication, is a team effort. Any changes considered in these efforts should respect the team, seek input and understand the basis for what is currently in place before implementation.
The SNU's efforts at informing the membership and preserving the past. This is why the SNU is so well documented on it's website. A lesson learned from the past. The documentation enables any members to gain understanding of the past and the present of the SNU. It provides current and future leaders the support they need to understand their obligations and responsibilities and carry out their tasks. It also preserves the history of the SNU and minimizes the loss of materials that provide the foundation on which the SNU was built.
The SNU's use of open source software for the newsletter and website, and basic bookeeping methods for accounting purposes. These efforts provide for continuity and facilitate easier transition from one volunteer to another. It recognizes the focus of the SNU's resources is on the primary mission of going camping and precludes the need for specialized or custom software whether it is for bookkeeping, the newsletter, membership management, or the website. It respects that SNU members have varying degrees of knowledge and interest in formatting and design issues and also that an end result is produced that recognizes the diversity of internet capabilities of SNU members. It also reduces the potential for loss of information. Use of open source software and basic web design tools was done intentionally. It makes the website content easy to use by any volunteer. It easily transferable to another hosting service without loss of data, and it can be transferred to most storage devices thus preserving SNU history and documentation.
The SNU's preferred rally sites and rally fee structure. Preferred sites will accommodate participants whether or not they have rsvp'd. They are also accessible to any member of the group regardless of size of rig or towing experience. The fee structure of SNU rallies makes these activities accessible to anyone without undue financial concerns.
Many great things have been happening in the SNU in the last five years – new rally sites, increased participation, newer members taking leadership roles, and members assisting the SNU in a variety of ways. Recently several SNU members have proposed ideas about possible caravans, rallies, or other Airstream adventures that might be of interest for the SNU. The fact that members come up with ideas and suggestions is a healthy sign. It indicates success in the SNU's efforts to encourage input and participation from members. It also indicates enthusiasm and involvement on the part of the members.
The SNU is a great group and by always keeping in mind our history and what makes us who we are, we will continue to thrive and to enjoy Airstreaming in the Great Basin area. Check out the SNU website. Learn more about our Unit's past. Read through the documentation that is there to help you understand the things we do and how we do them. As Jerry so aptly said “It's the Airstreams that bring us together but it's the people who keep us together”
Check the Op Notes to learn more about the SNU and how it functions.
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