Author: Cornish, Rick

How Music Organizations Stay Young

Good morning from Whiskey Creek, where our retired lives speed by with the velocity of a bullet train. Itís a bit ironic, to me at least, that as Lynn and I grow older, slow down commensurately and become more deliberate and pondering about the daily choices we make, time is all the while accelerating. Itís as though the grains of sand sense theyíre approaching closer and closer to falling to the bottom of the hourglass and just canít resist speeding up. But hey, Iím not complaining. At least Iím still on the train.

This yearís Spring Camp Out was poorly attended, partly because, due to where Easter fell on the calendar this year, many folks had made alternate plans well before the CBA even announced the camp out dates. And even more significantly, I believe, because of the inclement weather. Rainy, cold and windy. But Iíll tell you whatÖthis music of ours just knocks the stuffing out of adversity. The jamming was, in a word, superb, and the fellowship warm. And interestingly, itís the first CBA camp out I can remember when the attendees were downright thrilled with every downpour. (Also the first one where I witnessed spontaneous rain dances break out.) No, weíre certainly not past the awful California drought, but every drop of rain we can eek out of the clouds will make summer time just a little more bearable.

The subject of my Welcome column today came to me while I sat listening at the Associationís board of directors meeting on Saturday in Turlock. At one point, chairperson Tim Edes asked for a show of hands of the board members present who planned to run again for a seat in this yearís board election. It appears that three will not and I for one choose to view this particular glass as half full instead of half empty. Why? Because having to fill three vacancies means that the California Bluegrass Association will have some new ideas and energy and perspective and quirkiness breathed into it. And if thereís one thing Iíve learned after a forty-year career working for and with the elected governing body of a large public agency itís that without these periodic infusions organizations, even large ones with impressive track records, sooner or later curl up and die. Itís the reason I chose to leave the board two years ago. No, I wasnít tired of the monthly meetings and no, I hadnít finally gotten fed up after thirteen years of bickering and show-boating and tough choices. I quit because the need for fresh leadership was palpable.

Okay, so what does "Non nobis solum nati sumusĒ mean? I thought youíd never ask. The quote is from the Roman Empireís greatest writer and philosopher, Cicero, and means simply, ďNot for ourselves alone are we born.Ē I wonít bother to try to sell this notion or even to amplify it. (After all, if you canít believe a guy like Cicero, who can you believe?) Rather, I want to use a little of my space here today to offer a practical suggestion to that handful of CBA members whoíve pretty much known for many years that when the time was right they would step up and offer themselves as servants to our cause. So, hereís the thingÖif you have thought about running for the board of directors of the CBA, use the upcoming Fathers Day Festival week to make up your mind and, if the answer is yes, use that mega gathering of our membership to launch your candidacy.

Most of the board, if not all, will be at the Nevada County Fairgrounds for five or six or seven days that week, as will many former board members as well as folks who serve or have served in mission-critical jobs. Start now making a list of questions youíll need the answers to in order to make a decision, and then use the time leading up to and during the festival to collar these people, one on one, and ask away. Whatís really expected of board members, officially AND unofficially? What are the mechanics of board attendance, of debate, of decision-making? What do individual board members like most about serving on the board? What drives them up the walls?

And then second, if you do decide to run, use the last couple days at Grass Valley to circulate your nomination petition; you need the names and signatures of a minimum of ten current CBA members but thereís no maximum number. This means that when you are circulating your petition you can also gather some useful information about what the rank and file do and donít like about the direction of the Association. Oh, and of course the other thing you accomplish with this strategy is letting people know youíre running. When I circulated my petition back at the 2000 FDF I collected a couple hundred signatures, and in the process of making contact with all those folks I got my marching orders as well as more than a few votes.

Sitting on the board of a non-profit organization is certainly not for everyone, but for the few for which it is a good fit, the work can be both fulfilling and joyful. And this is coming from someone who until a certain point in his life, thought Cicero was blowing smoke.

Posted:  4/29/2014

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