Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stacking the Points for the SBCGS

I am happy to report that the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society is not only alive and kicking, but is also thriving!

Back in May, I wrote a post - Another One Bites the Dust - about the quiet demise of my local genealogical society. Many of you responded to my post, and I so appreciate your comments and encouragement. I've taken your advice to heart, and if the Lompoc Valley Genealogical Society decides to rise from the ashes like the phoenix, I will most definitely be prepared to help it take flight.

To follow up, I did contact some former members of the LVGS. I asked if they would like to try to resurrect the group, and was politely told, "No, thank you." Apparently, "once burned, twice shy" also applies to genealogical societies.

It was suggested that I look into membership with either the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society or the San Luis Obispo County Genealogical Society, Inc.

But how was I to know which group to choose? I mean, you usually just go with the group in your hometown, right? Oh wait, there is no group in my hometown... hence, my dilemma.

I decided to employ my usual "pro/con" point system to find a winner. These are listed in the random manner in which my brain typically works.

  • Lompoc is just about half-way between both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo - about 60 miles from each - so neither group's meetings are more convenient than the other, geographically. No points for either.

    Not a good start.

  • Santa Barbara and SLO are both interesting places to visit (and shop!), but traffic heading south on Highway 101 is generally worse than traffic heading north. However, I travel south to Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley all the time, so taking a trip to Santa Barbara might actually be more convenient, despite the traffic. 1 point for SBCGS.

  • Both groups have informative, up-to-date web sites. 1 point for both.

  • Both groups seem to have interesting programs. 1 point for both.

  • A family membership in the SLOCGS is less than half the price of a family membership in the SBCGS. Valid economic concern. 1 point for SLOCGS.

  • The SBCGS has several SIGs (Special Interest Groups), which the SLOCGS does not. Unfortunately, I'm not inclined to attend these, as I really don't have time in my schedule for more meetings. Unless they're of extreme interest to me. Which these groups are not. No points for either.

  • The SBCGS has a cool library. 1 point for SBCGS.

  • The SLOCGS has a DNA project. I'm a DNA project administrator (for an admittedly small tiny minuscule project) who is basically flying blind and has almost NO idea of what she's doing, so I appreciate their focus on DNA. I would hope this would be a frequent program topic, or at least, they would have members who are knowledgeable of genetic genealogy. 1 point for SLOCGS.

  • The SBCGS meets on the 3rd Saturday of the month, which conflicts with another group's meetings I attend. The SLOCGS meets on the first Saturday of the month, which doesn't generally conflict with anything for me, but does take up a Saturday that I would otherwise spend with my family (or on genealogical research, or graving, or...). Hmmm... tough choice, but 1 point for SLOCGS.

  • The SBCGS had a booth at the SCGS Jamboree back in June. They must be actively seeking members, right? However, when I visited their booth on Jamboree Day 2 and told them of my quest to find a genealogical society "home," the boothees were not overly friendly or interested. Bad day? Perhaps.

    I gave them the benefit of the doubt and went back on Day 3. This time, I was warmly greeted by a lady I already knew from a lineage group to which I belong. Granted, they were all busy cleaning up since the exhibit room was closing, but she still took the time to talk to me and give me some information about the group. Did I get a better reception simply because I knew her? Maybe, but I don't care. 1 point for SBCGS.
So... if you're following my math - which is never easy to do - that leaves both groups tied at 5 points each.

Not much help, this point system of mine.

What tipped the scale in favor of SBCGS? The fact that the SLOCGS does not meet in July or August, and I had a free Saturday last weekend and was itching to get out of Dodge (Lompoc). Dumb reason, I know, but hey, not every decision is based on logic. Or points.

I gave a check to the nice lady at the cash box and signed my husband and I up for a family membership. I'll write about my first experience at one of their meetings shortly.

To be honest, I'll probably check out the SLOCGS in September or October, when they come back from summer vacay. I'm sure I'll need an excuse to visit some of the outstanding wineries in the area during harvest time!


SIDE NOTE: There's an informative, albeit short, thread going on at the APG Mailing List regarding "Keeping Local Societies Healthy." Some good suggestions, if you're interested.

ANOTHER NOTE: I just discovered that Randy Seaver wrote about the "Keeping Local Societies Healthy" discussion earlier today. Check out his more detailed coverage at Genea-Musings.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O'Neal

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Kathryn Doyle said...

So glad to learn that you gave them another chance after your first contact with the SBCGS was less than stellar. I'll be looking forward to future posts about joining a society. Don't forget that if you make it up north the door is open for you at the California Genealogical Society library in Oakland! Now I'm off to read Randy's post.

Elizabeth said...

Thanks for the invite, Kathryn! I know I'll be in Santa Clara in March for the DAR State Conference, so maybe I'll get a chance to stop by. And who knows... maybe you'll be at the DAR State Conference!

Kathryn Doyle said...

I'll check it out. Thanks for the tip!