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Zone Rep Report February 2009

Sean CridlandIn the Zone by Sean Cridland

Last month I described, in general terms, what a Zone Rep does. That was fairly easy, because I was able to draw upon my conversations with previous Zone Reps and with the information that PCA National supplies. This month’s piece is much more difficult to write, mostly because my term only recently began and I haven’t done much yet. I’ve spent some time on the PCA site looking through all the various forms I’ll be using for budgets and expenses. I’ve perused some of the recent issues of RegionFocus -- which I suggest everyone who is active in club leadership spend some time with.  I’ve been planning the Zone 9 Meeting for February 7th in Albuquerque, and I built a website for the Zone

OK, I know that it sounds like a lot, but what I mean is that I haven’t actually spent much time yet attending and participating in various events around the Zone.  For example, I haven’t been on one of the PCA phone-in Executive Council Meetings. I haven’t been to the National meeting which will be held in mid-February in New Orleans. I haven’t been to Zone Rep “college.” And I haven’t yet put on my first Zone meetings. So while I’ve been busy doing some house-readying, I haven’t actually begun the business part of the job. Most of that work starts in the days and weeks following this installment.

But speaking about some of the prep work, most notably the creation of the Zone 9 Website, I’ve already made a suggestion for conversation at the National level that we provide some of our Regions and Zones with some web-help, either in the way of seminars and forums or even by supplying an easy to use template to help some of the less web-savvy volunteer webmeisters have an easier time setting up a site. It doesn’t take a text-happy  ‘tweeny’ to know that the web has become the dominant force in information sharing. Even us late blooming boomers rarely pick up a phone book or an encyclopedia (a what?) any more,  since we can find out almost everything we want to know by googling or yahooing in about half a second. It has to follow, that one of the best tools a Region has to promote the success of its events is its website.

As I see it, the PCA National Site and the Region sites are the most important tools for the administration and the membership that the Club has currently. (Uh-oh, I can already hear all the Newsletter editors and fans crying out in protest. Not to worry, as a 4-year newsletter editor, I have something very good to say in that area too.) Cruising around the PCA web-world I’ve noticed that some of the Zones had their own sites also and I see the Zone sites as valuable in promoting unity and continuity between the Regions of a Zone and a link between the Regions and National. Some of the Zones that have high population density (such as the Los Angeles and New York areas) promote a lot of multi-region events on their Zone sites.  So in those areas, the Zone sites are more important. But for the most part, it’s the site and the Region sites which are the most valuable tools to the membership.

But  because PCA is a volunteer organization, we have many enthusiastic members who are diving head first into . . . an activity that is as clear as pea-soup. “Sure, I’ll be the web-master. . . uh, what is it that web-masters do? And what does all this gobbledy-gook mean?” Diving into the world of HTML, CSS,  and FTP (let alone PHP, ASP, MySQL, etc.) for the first time is daunting, intimidating, frustrating, and even humiliating. Even using programs like Dreamweaver can be scary. Where does one even start? It’s plain to see that some of our Regions need some help with this work.

Of course in some regions we have web-professionals designing and building sites and that’s a wonderful thing. It’s fun to cruise around the various Zone and Regional sites to see the amazing skill,  professionalism and imagination of some of the webmeisters. But in the end, getting the info out is the most important goal for a Region site. If we’re heaping an overwhelmingly daunting job on web-newbies, lots of times we end up with information roadblocks instead of super-highways.

Hence, for the Zone 9 meeting that will be held the first week of February in Albuquerque, I’ve broken with tradition. Previously, the Zone Meeting has been for the Region Presidents and Newsletter Editors to get up to speed on policy, content, and design of events and publicity. But this year I’ve invited the Region Webmasters to come also so that we might start weaving-in some of the web-gaps  between the Regions of Zone 9 and start sharing some of the wealth of skills and information.

Because our Zone is spread out over such a vast territory, it’s doubtful that we’ll ever have the kinds of multi-region activities that take place in Zone 1 or Zone 8, but we can do a better job of connecting and communicating with each other via the web. As someone who was self-taught and then later spent some time in school learning web-skills, I have found that doing web-stuff is actually kind of fun. . .if you know what you’re doing.

Besides the effort to uphold the strong Zone Rep traditions set by my predecessors, among my many goals will be to bring a stronger sense of unity through the Zone by using the power of the Web. To get started, we’ll have to get our webmasters together with the presidents and newsletter editors at the Zone 9 meeting and start sharing information and skills.

Next time I’ll talk about the role of Newsletters in this process.

See you at an event,

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