May 2005


President's corner

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This n That


President's Corner

Survey, Survey, who's got the Survey? (Or "Continued Changes")

Last month I discussed our new meeting focus on the four core things that you, our members, have told us are the most important to you. These are: Tech Talks, Show & Tell, break time socializing, and the main presentation. We've started to make this change, but since we are severely limiting our announcement section of the meetings, it'll take awhile for those who want to make announcements to learn that they need to get them to our newsletter editor by the first of each month, to be included in the news, instead of announced at the meetings. Now, why have we focused on these four things? Because this is what you said you wanted in our Membership Survey we undertook in 2003. You also gave us a lot of other feedback in this extensive questionnaire. Prepared with the able assistance of longtime member, Don Naples, this survey was a milestone in the history of our club. We asked everything from what time should we start our meetings, to Tech Talk topics you'd like to hear about.

BAWA members care about their club, as evidenced by the 46% return of the Survey forms. Even though it was lengthy and required a lot of input from you, 41 of you took the time to fill it out and mail or email it back to me. This is a huge amount of returns on a survey! As a result we instituted the changes you wanted. For example:

    Mike Cooper has generated renewed interest in our library by some judiciously chosen videos, using money the Board appropriated last year. We plan to do the same this year.

    Bruce Bell has regenerated our Open Shop series of tours of members' shops, often with a teaching activity included.

    Paul Reif has set up a new Mentor Program that pairs members new to woodworking with our more experienced members to learn a particular skill or hone an individual technique.

    Neal White has reorganized the Silent Auction and Show & Tell section of our meetings so these have become positive contributors to the ambiance of each meeting.

    Jay Perrine, with help from Neal, has started organizing weekend Educational Seminars for our members. Starting late last year with a very successful day with member Yeung Chan and continuing in the near future possibly with Michael Fortune and others.

    Tony Fanning is now assisting Bill Henzel with Rebuilding Together, and they've expanded. We now have not one, but two, events per year in this portion of our Community Outreach program. Last month we had over two dozen members participate in this fun event --- our largest ever.

    Of course, we've all seen that Harold Patterson's enthusiasm for the Toy Workshops has brought renewed interest and attendance in this long standing program of BAWA. All of these activities and changes are what you said you wanted in our Survey, and they've made us a much better club.

Other changes you said you wanted have not worked quite so well --- and that's okay. The important thing is that we've tried them.

    For example although Dale Chorney was ably coordinating the new Answer Person Program, we shut it down after a 6 month trial as it simply wasn't being used.

    Also, we've had trouble getting members to volunteer to bring refreshments for a long, long time. Last month you spoke loud and clear that you don't need refreshments at our meetings, so we've discontinued these too.

    And of course we are still having trouble finding a permanent home, but this isn't new, it's just harder as we need a bigger space. Mark Ferraro is heading this effort and will have some places to share with the Board at its next meeting. If you know of a place call Mark at 650/375-1258 or

We can start either of these programs again if there is enough interest, but not everything is right for our particular club.

Another big change was to start our meetings at 6:30 pm. We made this change because 70% of you who voted said this was your preference, and because many of the places we meet at require us to be out the door by 10:00pm at the latest (some even 9:30). But because of the distances some members have to travel during rush hour traffic, this hasn't worked so well. I've usually held the start of the meetings at least 15 minutes to allow a reasonable compliment of members to arrive. Some of you've told me you want to return to our old 7:00 pm start time. Others have suggested that we change our meeting night to allow us to rent a meeting place large enough to house our present and future growth, and one that will allow more time for our event packed meetings. We'll be asking you your thoughts about all of this in a new survey shortly. I think it's important to try a number of different things that may be of benefit to the widest segment of our members. Not everything will be fit right for us, but sometimes we don't know until we try.

This brings me to my reason for discussing all of these changes. When we last surveyed all of you so extensively we had about 88 members, with 35 to 40 attending a typical meeting. Now we have 102 or so members, with 55 to 60 people at a most every meeting. Mainly this is due to the wonderful efforts of our Program Committee, but also to the changes discussed above that we've instituted as a result of our 2003 member survey. I think this is why we've grown and increased our meeting attendance.

So it's time to ask you what you think of the changes we've made. The Board will be asking you to tell us how we did, and what more we can do to continue to make the Bay Area Woodworkers Association the best club in the area. We can only do this if we are truly serving your needs of what you want your woodworking club to be. This can only be achieved if you continue to tell us what you want. Let's make BAWA even better!

Craig Mineweaser