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-   -   Goodbye AOS (https://www.orchidboard.com/community/aos/19436-goodbye-aos.html)

stonedragonfarms 01-09-2009 10:50 AM

Goodbye AOS
I wonder how many of us used to wait in anticipation for our AOS Journal to arrive in the post?

When I first joined 15 years ago or so, the Journal was in its small "chapbook" format; I personally liked this form, but agree that it was hard to publish pictures of some blooms to size. I also liked the layout which put articles and growing information in the front of the Journal, and advertisements in the rear portion of the publication. Changes were made about 5 or 6 years ago, and the Journal went "trade" sized--pictures could be shown full sized and articles did not have to be wrapped around illustrations in odd ways. The trade off to this new size? Now advertisements were sprinkled throughout the Journal--good or bad, that was just the way it was. I acclimated to the reformat.

Then there was a hurricane (forgive me Florida and Gulf Coast friends, but I do not remember which...) which damaged a great deal of the AOS Gardens/Centre, and members saw our dues rise; where I once paid $45 for membership and Journal fees, I now was to pay $60. Grudgingly, I did so. I wonder how many AOS members out there have ever been to the AOS Centre in Florida, or how many ever will go?

Over the past 18 months I have watched the Journal steadily slide downhill: first there was the inclusion of Lindleyana in the Journal (forgive me if I remember wrongly, but this used to come as a biannual supplement to the Journal...and now that I think further back, was also available en masse as a seperate publication), giving the average orchidist a few nice pictures and a diatribe on new species or genus classification which require a degree in botany to interpret; second, cross advertising in the Journal increased (I don't remember seeing advertisements for the AHS, Orchid Digest or other non AOS socieities in Journals of the past); third, advertising space and advertisements in general appear to have increased, it now seems that the Journal is one of "those publications" (shout out to Men's Health) which requires one to read through the ads to find the articles; finally, the Jan 2009 Journal has undergone another change in format, supposedly this is to ensure that the AOS operates in the black in the coming year--pages have been narrowed to allow for better use of space, the binding of the Journal has been changed be more economical, and those ads I've been noticing, here again en masse.

For $60 I get a publication that has great photos, but is nowhere near the reading quality of Smithsonian or National Geographic (both steals at $12 and $15 respectively), I get free admission to the AOS Gardens and free or reduced admission other gardens across the US (though a contribution of $35 to the AHS will give me the same benefits, and a bimonthly publication as well) and other fringe benefits (reduced AOS award processing fees, an Orchid Vendor directory, discounts for classes at the AOS Centre, etc.). I'm sorry AOS, but it's goodbye for me. I'll use the $60 that I'm not paying you this coming year to buy some seedlings this summer. I'll get my orchid growing questions answered in online forums, where I can engage in conversation with a broad range of growers and hobbyists. If I need a photo-illustration of flowers or foliage, I'll zip to Jay Pfahl's excellent site or let Google help me out. And those ads and vendor directory? Orchidmall does a hell of a job keeping me posted should I care to browse.

smweaver 01-09-2009 11:35 AM

In complete agreement with you here, Adam. I first joined the AOS back in the early 1990s, and I thought the AOS bulletin was pretty good. But as the years went by the bulletin started to remind me of the horticultural version of GQ magazine: lots of glossy pictures and a whole lot of advertisements that I could easily have lived without. I understand the need for commercial growers to make a living, but when over half of the pages of the society's monthly publication were devoted to ads, it became something of an annoyance to have to thumb through all of the garbage in order to get to the articles. You must be more patient than I am, as I let my subscription expire long ago (probably right after the series of hurricanes hit Florida and the price of the newly-named publication significantly increased). Once in a while I still go to the AOS website, but it seems (and I say "seems" because this is just an opinion and by no means do I think that necessarily makes mine any more valuable than the next person's) that there's just a lot of useless information there. I would be curious to know (if anyone on here does, in fact, know) what today's AOS membership number is, especially in comparison to say, five, ten and fifteen years ago. Oh well, can't say that I miss them too much. And, like you, I do think Nat'l Geographic's still a great bargain at $15! :D


orchideric 01-09-2009 07:34 PM

Dear Steve,

By law, publishers MUST publish details once a year in a "Statement of Ownership". This appears in the December issue of Orchids magazine - purposefully buried in the back with the information in very small type face (? 7 point type ?). There is absolutely no way that the information can be read with the unaided human eye. I find a 40x handlens to be a minimum requirement. In addition, the information isn't clearly stated - like a direct membership number. They clearly publish this information kicking and screaming.

If you give them the benefit of the doubt and give them the high number (average over the past 12 months) the membership is 16,667. If you are pessimistic and go by the last month mailed, the membership is down to 13,808. In either case, the AOS has lost almost exactly 1/3 of the membership in the past 6 years (Dec 2002 - Dec 2008).

No opinions here on this forum, those are the hard data they are forced to publish.

It is all very sad, Eric

cb977 01-09-2009 08:15 PM

I only joined the AOS two years ago so I can't compare what I receive now to what it was years ago. I look forward to receiving the magazine each month but have only been to AOS Headquarters once and never used any of the other benefits so far.

I check out their web site every once in a while and have found some good information there...but my true alliance is to Orchidboard and the friends I have here.

Adam and Steve, we're very happy to have you here with us and if you no longer feel you want to be part of the AOS, that is of course, your choice...as my mother-in-law says: "that's why they make brown shoes and black shoes" ;)

stonedragonfarms 01-10-2009 12:33 AM

Ah well, out with the old and in with the new; hopefully the AOS will find a way to roll with the punches and woo some of us back. I'll still check their site on occasion, but I won't hold my breath. I love your MIL's quote Sue!

smweaver 01-10-2009 08:29 AM

Good information, Eric. Thank you. I too hope that the AOS manages to rebound and recoup the old membership numbers they had when I first joined. I always did look forward to the bulletin arriving each month, and especially liked any information that pertained to the actual growing of orchids. But the internet might have been as much a killer for them as it has been for numerous other hardcopy publications. Why spend $60 per year for something when you can easily turn to an online resource (like this one) that provides great information and allows you to interact with other individuals who share your hobby for a fraction of the price? Thanks, Susanne, for your comments also! :-)


cday2inflorida 01-10-2009 08:41 AM

I agree whole hardily, with Steve. "Back in the day" the only cultural information that was up to date was AOS. They held a monopoly on orchid information. I think it was biased, as well. You only had cultural info from the "whos, who" of the orchid world. Now in the age of a few clicks...you have info from some of the best orchidists in the world...the backyard grower who would have never been invited to contribute to the bulletin.

Royal 01-10-2009 11:03 AM

I can understand the frustration, but like Sue, I have just recently joined AOS so I can't speak to the changes over the years. I do think it is sad that AOS is losing it's members. I understand that things have changed as far as the availablitly of info online and on forums like this one, but do we just leave? What happens when the OB becomes outdated - do we just move on the newer and shinier forums?

What I'm saying (I think) is that the AOS was there for us when nobody else was. Maybe it's just my personal view on loyalty, but if the OB became obsolete due to another forum that meets my needs better, I wouldn't just ditch the OB for the new board. I'd give feedback and lobby for change and updating here at the OB. Just like the AOS we are member driven. What if everyone who wanted things a little different just left? It would no longer be the board we've come to love.

I see this as a similar situation. We all chose to join AOS because they provided us with something. Any society is merely a collection of members. Without any members, it will fail. To initiate change, we have to participate, even when we feel underrepresented or disenfranchised (but only if we still care). How many of us just don't vote because we're not happy with our government? Silly huh, when you're unhappy is when your vote is needed the most.

I totally respect anyone's choice to leave the AOS as we all have different motives and philosophies. But me - I'll stay on with the AOS. They may not be everything I need (that's why Im here), but the orchid growing world needs the AOS to drive formal education, research, and conservation initiatives. Just my :twocents: .

goodgollymissmolly 01-10-2009 12:06 PM

AOS is not them....it's us. The policy makers at AOS are members just like the rest of us...except they give their time and spend their money to manage the organization for all of us. The paid staff is are not policy makers just paid assistants to execute the policies.

AOS provides an excellent judging system so we can compare our growing ability with others..past and present. AOS provides leadership in conservation efforts and research. AOS provides educational data and opportunity and the opportunity to network with serious orchidists. Internet forums don't do those things. Quit complaining about what AOS does or doesn't do for you and find out what you can do for AOS. Tha's what makes the world better.

A friend of mine once said during a stock market decline, "when all the weak sisters get out the rest of us will have their money". Meaning of course that most investors buy too late (high) and panic and sell low. Cattle farmers are famous for buying and selling at exactly the wrong times. Don't be a weak AOS sister and quit just when you're needed. Anybody can carp about stuff, it takes a man to jump in and make things work correctly. When the weak sisters are gone, there will still be an AOS. Don't listen to pessimism.

orchideric 01-10-2009 01:38 PM


Can you give a specific example of actual orchid conservation by the AOS? Can you name a specific orchid that they been instrumental in saving?


Loyalty is a 2-way street. I was a member for 30 years before dropping my membership. It has been a long time since the AOS leadership has had any respect for its members. Fighetti's glad handing is glitz, not respect. Do not accuse those of us who choose to drop our memberships of somehow being disloyal.

Probably the most disturbing aspect of the "new" AOS is their refusal to deal with accusations of anti-Semitism made by their former employee Andy Easton at an AOS Trustees Meeting. The advice they have been getting from their lawyers is anathema to a member society. They need new lawyers - or perhaps to do away with them in their entirety. Why the silence?

Eric, a former doggedly loyal AOS member for 30 years!

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