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Zone Rep Report March 2010

Sean CridlandIn the Zone by Sean Cridland

I’m just now putting everything away from our recently completed Zone 9 Meeting in Albuquerque. We held the meeting at many-year PCA member and Club Racer Bruce Phillips’ shop and the Roadrunner Region was kind enough to host a membership social at the Chama River Brewing Company, just a few blocks away.

The meeting itself was a day-long event with discussions on safety, procedure, policy, insurance and liability, PCA “urban legends,” Zone 9 unity, newsletters, and websites. It’s really too bad that we only have enough budget and time to gather only once a year. It’s great to get all the Regional officials to see how things are done in other regions. I know from my own experience that one often doesn’t realize that the other Regions are going through many of the same kinds of issues. Or, it can be a surprise that something so normal and easy in one Region might be odd or a struggle in another Region. Zone 9 has incredible diversity as well. We have one of the nation’s largest Regions (Rocky Mountain) and the smallest (Llano Estacado) in our midst. Or geographic size is incredible too, stretching from the Big Bend of the Rio Grande to the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Of course one discussion comes up every year: the one on participation. Although PCA is the largest single-marque car-club in the world, we still have a “participation gap.” By that, I mean we have many members who rarely come to any events. And we have a constantly diminishing percentage of people who are Region leaders and volunteer for work positions. Although that’s probably true of any type of volunteer organization in the 21st century, it’s a worry for PCA because we’re seeing that many of the veteran members who volunteered for decades are being replaced by younger people who might reach burnout after only a few years. This leads to constant turnover and less experienced leadership.

There are always two sides to every coin (except that one I use occasionally….) and more turnover can mean an infusion of new ideas, more use of contemporary technology, and more energy to move the club forward. But sometimes it can lead to frustration,  unnecessary reinvention of the wheel, burnout and dropping out.  Hence, getting the veteran and newer players of Zone 9 together is one of events I look forward to at the beginning of each calendar year. It’s great to watch the interaction of all these highly interested and motivated people, let alone to facilitate and participate in it. Hopefully this meeting leads to finding a few solutions.

One discussion that I’ve brought up for a second year is one on the development of a Zone 9 “consciousness” (for lack of a better term).  Some of the other PCA Zones actually have events which bring together members from each of their Regions for autocrosses, track days, tech sessions, and socials. Of course those Zones are geographically suited to that kind of togetherness because of their locations in high population density areas. And, the Regions in those Zones are strong enough organizationally and financially that they don’t see extra events from the Zone level as being a competition for funding or participation in their own events.

For obvious reasons, to just lift the model of a coastal Zone and place it on top of our own wouldn’t work. Still, it seems that there should be a way to get members to be more conscious of the vast diversity of the Regions in the Zone and maybe even get our members to travel to other Regions to participate in an occasional event away from home in another of our great Regions, large or small.

To this end we have three initiatives going on. The first is substantive and immediate. At the Zone 9 Meeting in Albuquerque it was decided unanimously to start circulating the annual Zone Meeting amongst the Regions. Slips of paper were placed in a hat (excluding the Roadrunner Region who have hosted it from time immemorial…) and . . . the West Texas Region was drawn to host the 2011 meeting. I’ve already contacted WTR President Craig Corbett to get things rolling.

A second Zone initiative is in the planning stages. This will be a Zone Award for a person or couple who travel to at least one event in every Region of the Zone during a season. It will be presented at their Region’s end-of-year party. Guidelines for trophy competition will be going up on the Zone website soon.

A third Zone initiative is in the larva stage: Zone 9 “branding” with either a t-shirt or pin or car-badge with the Zone 9 logo on it, so that members will have more awareness of their Zone and the great diversity of Regions that it covers.  I’m hoping we’ll have something to show by the summer months, maybe even in time for the Zone Challenge at Porsche Parade in St. Charles, Illinois.

Whew! It was a busy weekend, but I think a productive one.

Sean

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