Letter to AOS
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Old 04-11-2008, 01:30 PM
Phantasm Phantasm is offline
Senior Member
American Orchid Society Judge

Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Seattle
Posts: 746

To all,

I have been in touch with the people at the AOS Headquarters and they are well aware of this conversation. Blondie- you have their attention and they will respond to your letter. Please be aware that the AOS is a group of orchid enthusiasts of varying interests with different priorities. If you want to be heard then you have to speak loudly! There is definitely interest in the message you are bringing, and hopefully your energy can be harnessed with others of similar thinking.
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Old 04-11-2008, 02:24 PM
Blondie Blondie is offline
Senior Member

Join Date: Jun 2007
Zone: 5b
Location: Iowa
Posts: 274

Wow! So many more topics all brought up. And I'm glad to hear AOS is listening. Very cool, indeed.

I need to respond to something: the reason I personally focus on the magazine is because that is all I have. That is my ONLY connection to AOS. I receive almost nothing else from them. There is no AOS group near me. In Chicago, I lived too far away from the botanical gardens to get to orchid meetings, so I joined AOS to see what would happen. The reason I focused on the mag is because that is the only reminder that I get that I'm a member of AOS. I got a welcome packet and that's it. I think that might be why people drop the membership after a year. With just a $60 mag subscription, what's the point?

That is why I listed so many options in my letter to AOS to become more visible and active in many parts of the country in many different ways. Because I really really WANT to be a part of AOS, but what is it doing for me?

For example, I recently joined the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha (which had an orchid show recently...prrrrrr!). It cost $30 for the year. I got a welcome packet and some pamphlets for upcoming events. And now I get an email about once a week with news, events, etc. I know my $30 is giving me a year's worth of good shows for a good price. I could easily drop AOS in favor of my garden membership (which I won't) because it gives me "more" somehow. See what I'm saying? I think people would be involved if you gave them a way to be. Just look at all of the projects and contests they have on this board--it's fantastic.

You are all great--thank you so much for keeping the thread going with interesting conversation!
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Old 04-11-2008, 02:38 PM
Rhonda_in_FL Rhonda_in_FL is offline
Senior Member

Join Date: Mar 2007
Zone: 9a
Location: Palm Beach County, FL
Posts: 100
Letter to AOS Female


You are absolutely correct--AOS has historically asked for the membership fee and called it a day with the magazine. I have the luxury of living near the HQ, so I benefit more from my $$ than someone living far away.

In response to this gap, the board has charged Ron McHatton, Director of Education and Regional Operations, to develop networking groups throughout the country. These groups would be able to plan activities/events and disseminate information locally that would impact or be of interest to AOS members. I am not entirely sure which areas are on his list first, but he has already made initial moves to organize these groups in areas far away from the South Florida headquarters. There is an event in New Jersey at the end of May sponsored by AOS and the Joint President's Council. There will be speakers and lunch for a day.

I think the e-blasts will come with the new website technology. I dont' know that much about servers, etc., but apparently the AOS was very outdated with software and servers. Now that the new site is up, they are already talking about creating e-lists for society newsletters, AOS reps, membership, etc. It sounds exciting (and very similar to what you're talking about with the Lauritzen Garden.)

Creating a society isn't too tough--I'd like to see a society at the college levels, that is a fun idea.
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Old 04-11-2008, 02:48 PM
quiltergal quiltergal is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Zone: 8b
Location: Southern Oregon
Age: 67
Posts: 6,016

This has been a very interesting read. My problem is my local society. They are associated with AOS and put on an AOS judged show every year. But I have to say they are probably the most unfriendly group of folks I have ever had the misfortune to meet. I have been to two meetings and both have been the same. I show up introduce myself, ask questions, smile a lot, and am summarily ignored. If AOS is looking to increase membership and involvement I feel the most crucial link is at the local level. If the local society is driving people away in droves, that in turn hurts AOS. It also reinforces that perception that orchid people are geeky snobs. I feel very frustrated that I'm not more involved, but honestly who would continue to subject themselves to rudeness? I think AOS could be more proactive at the local level with hints and tips on how to recruit and retain members. Food for thought anyway.
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Old 04-11-2008, 03:20 PM
Ross Ross is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Zone: 5a
Posts: 9,277

Originally Posted by Rhonda_in_FL View Post
Now that the new site is up, they are already talking about creating e-lists for society newsletters, AOS reps, membership, etc.
I tried the new site and every one of the submenus gave me a Server error:

Server Error in '/' Application.

The resource cannot be found.
Description: HTTP 404. The resource you are looking for (or one of its dependencies) could have been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable. Please review the following URL and make sure that it is spelled correctly.

Requested URL: /aos/MemberLogon/MembershipCategories.aspx

Growing pains? Not ready for "prime time"? Hmmm
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Old 04-11-2008, 03:59 PM
goodgollymissmolly goodgollymissmolly is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Zone: 6a
Posts: 464

Ross, I have no trouble getting on the website....AOS | Home

Quiltergal....For some reason gardening people are shy. I hear the exact same thing about local daylily societies as you said about your local orchid society. I experienced it myself with a daylily club. I went to a different one and it was totally different. All you can do is keep going and it will thaw out. It does take some persistence. My local orchid society is pretty friendly once you show up a couple of times.

Rhonda, I know that McHatton is probably doing more than I give him credit for, but it looks like he has a built in local connection through the judging centers. It appears to me that he would home in on that and suggest adding funding (and volunteer positions) to the judging centers to hold one day symposia, educational meetings, and a permanent structure for member connections. I know I went to the Cincinnati Center's speakers day (they raise funds that way) last summer and met a lot of people from southern Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. It's true that I'm pretty forward, but even I need a reason to assemble (peaceably) to meet people.

I know they are doing the New Jersey/New York speakers thing coming up, but there is more to the United States than south Florida and Newark. Things take time to organize, but I'm hearing nothing about this regionalization thing...except Newark. Regionalization means some permanent regional structure, not just a one time Newark speakers day. I can even envision regional dues, if they are small, to support a simple newsletter and various meetings.

Let me give an example. In the Charlotte, NC, area the daylily people organized a real informal breakfast club that meets somewhere at a restaurant each month. Usually they have a garden or greenhouse visit scheduled after breakfast. Everyone drives themselves. There is no expense so the organization costs nothing. One person provides communications to the group and arranges garden visits. The group now includes orchid growers and gardeners other than daylily folks. It just holds itself together. It's lasted for a few years now and is well attended. The judging centers could serve as a focus for this kind of thing.
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Old 04-11-2008, 04:03 PM
Ross Ross is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Zone: 5a
Posts: 9,277

Originally Posted by goodgollymissmolly View Post
Ross, I have no trouble getting on the website....AOS | Home
Didn't say I had a problem getting on the website. In fact lots of sections function just fine. But sub-menus along the left are not functioning - server error. A server error is not my error but there error.

I see the problem - I linked from your link in your profile. That's apparently an old link to the old site. The one you just provided is a different web site. That explains a lot.

Last edited by Ross; 04-11-2008 at 04:05 PM..
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Old 04-11-2008, 04:03 PM
CodiMN CodiMN is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Zone: 4a
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Age: 43
Posts: 417

I'm think I'm just going to randomly send orchids to my friends, and invite them for a Saturday meeting and lunch! Rock on!
A friend and I are heading to Florida (again this year for me) in May. She's totally game to hitting up some orchid spots! I don't really think it's a lack of interest, maybe just lack of information in general that spooks some.
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Old 04-11-2008, 04:08 PM
goodgollymissmolly goodgollymissmolly is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Zone: 6a
Posts: 464

Ross, use the site map to navigate. You are right that the navigation menu down the side has some issues. Did you get up on an unusual side of the bed?
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Old 04-11-2008, 04:09 PM
Undergrounder Undergrounder is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Sydney
Posts: 609

I'm 24 and by far the biggest problem i find is time. Too many orchids require watering at the very least once or twice a week and i just can't guarantee i'll be able to do that constantly. And then what if i suddenly want to travel or move? I can't guarantee i'll be 'settled' down enough to look after a collection in the long term.

Second problem is space. Luckily for me i keep my plants at my parent's place so i can visit every once in a while to care for them, but most people in small apartments only have a window sill or a small balcony if they're lucky.

Third problem is money, obviously.. Stigma is a small problem, but to be honest that's not a big problem for me, i couldn't care less.

Fifth problem is the benching and competitions that societies have. In order to win a decent prize, i basically need to think 6 years ahead and breed something new and amazing that to me, looks almost exactly the same as everything else. Can i guarantee i have years and years to plan and grow the latest/greatest stuff? Also, i get a seriously 'petty' vibe from a few people at meetings.. it's like they have their own little world and they constantly gossip about people 'cheating' and how unfair the awards were and stuff. I mean just chill out... come on...

Sixth problem is that the local societies seem to be in a massive time warp in terms of their setup. Monthly meetings in a hall somewhere with cups of tea and bickies and 3-4 hours of chatting and lectures and stuff - i'm sure they've been doing it that way for 50 years and it's really geared as a social gathering for the 50+. I don't have a problem with that per se, but i can't make Wednesday nights because that's pool night... or poker night... or i need to study for an exam the next day, or i have a bar shift that night.. and when i get there, the information available is now widely available on the internet so i don't feel like i'm learning much.

In a perfect world, this is how i'd like orchids to work for me:

1. They'd be available in more retail outlets. At the moment i have to travel a long way out to a wholesale orchid grower, i have to visit a local backyard grower or i have to be happy with an overpriced Phalaenopsis from the local florist. With my current plants i want to sell them or loan them to restaraunts, cafes, art galleries and such. I'm sure these places would love a few orchids in flower to decorate the place.

2. They'd take up a small amount of room, they'd be fairly hardy and they'd do fine on my windowsill.

3. I'd be able to chat to local enthusiasts online, which means i have the time and ability to connect with people that i can't at the monthly Weds meeting.

4. I'd do away with the fairly elitist and competetive 'benching' that goes on and replace it with a less technical, more accessible competetion that appreciates good culture more than good flowers.

5. I'd hold what meetings there are, in a coffeeshop or something. Get a local coffeeshop to reserve the place for the night and have members' plants just sitting in the middle of tables, on shelves, on the coffee machine, everywhere. Makes the whole meeting vibe less formal and stale and more vibrant and sociable.

So yeah that's why i'm not in a society. I tried going a couple of times, but i had to leave halfway through to see a movie i had already booked with a friend and a similar thing happened the next time. I'd love to be more involved in the more official side of orchid growing but i feel totally out of my element. Don't get me wrong, i love to chat to growers and i get along great with lots of people, but i feel as though the people there are fervently set in their ways and they seem to really enjoy the way things are going so who am i to come in and change things?

Last edited by Undergrounder; 04-11-2008 at 04:22 PM..
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