John Bartlett, VE1OZ/HK3OZ, has sent us what appears to be his last post Transforming RAC – Part 15. In it, he encourages the RAC leadership to carry on with the process which he first introduced to us in 2008 and now has more fully revisited in 2010. He makes it clear he won’t be joining us in Ottawa and declares that as he is not a member of the board or the executive he feels he has no place at the discussion table which is not open to the general membership.
John’s efforts on our behalf have met with a spectrum of response from Canadian amateurs ranging from indifference, even hostility to elation and enrollment.
Personally I found in John a man of rare integrity and devotion to the hobby he loves. John had the courage to complete an incomplete process begun two years ago in Cornwall, Ontario at RAC’s AGM where he shared a process to determine the future of RAC. Now in 2010 he takes his leave by challenging each of us to express our own dream for RAC and Amateur Radio in Canada. I have enjoyed our almost daily chats via Skype and will miss the hours of discussion and debate that followed but I support him in his decision to step back now. He has done us a great service and I believe I can claim him as a friend and for that alone I am complete and grateful.
And since early July when John began this odyssey and his missives were published on this blog, you too have participated by the hundreds of views per day and scores of emails and posts.
So what lessons have we learned and what lessons await us?
First, as moderator of the blog, I have discovered that some of us live in the memories of the past which make seeing a vision for the future impossible. That is so sad but is says to me there is much healing of old wounds that has yet to be addressed. All of us in the RAC leadership group have a responsibility here to bring this about.
On the other hand, scores of you feel passionately optimistic about your hobby and RAC. This is so encouraging. I think many agree that the problems RAC faces are actually small and easily fixed if there is a desire to address the underlying issues and that’s to paraphrase Shakespeare “therein lies the rub.” Do we have the courage to look deeply into that which ails us or would it be better to end it all now as a few have claimed? To Shakespeare again: “To sleep: perchance to dream: Ay, there’s the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come.”
So what are the underlying issues? Let me tell you a story:
Ten years ago or so my local Toastmaster club, one of the oldest in Canada, was facing a similar crisis to what RAC is facing today. Our numbers were declining and we were having problems filling the weekly job schedule that makes a Toastmaster meeting work. (Toastmaster clubs need at least 20 members to be considered viable and healthy. Our club was barely reaching even these minimum standards.)
We decided to survey every guest past and present about their experience and what we discovered horrified us. We were considered by newcomers to be elitist, unfriendly, cold and intimidating. We were shocked as we realized we had lost our focus. In our passion to become better speakers, we had forgotten the newcomer standing at the door.
So now, years later, when you come to my Toastmaster club as a guest, our greeters will shake your hand, introduce you to an executive member and a senior member will be assigned to formally introduce you to the meeting assembly. They will sit with you to answer any questions you might have and at the end of the night, the membership chair will talk with you about joining the club. You will be invited back as our guest for two more meetings.
As we begin our 55th season, First Oakville Toastmasters begins the year with an unheard of 40-returning members and we anticipate closing the year with a record-setting 60 members which will make this club one of the largest in North America.
So can RAC create a similar cultural shift?
If we do, we can thank John Bartlett for showing us the way. And if we fail, then we shall see what dreams may come.