Whenever someone is doing some fund-raising, I’m usually fine to support their efforts. I don’t often care too much what the organization is, as long as the person doing the fund-raising isn’t a whackjob that makes me suspect the outcome, I’m happy that they are engaging with some organization and want to support it. I don’t necessarily support the organization, or even care about it, to be honest, I’m doing it to support my friend.
$20 here, $50 there, whatever. It’s a social decision. Recently, our local astronomy group was wondering about membership fees for a number of members who might be struggling with their finances right now, so an option was created to allow others to give a bit of money to help cover those fees, since most of them are not waivable but go to cover per unit costs for magazines, books, etc. So I slipped them a couple of bills to help out.
But as an introvert, I am a bit leery when it comes to personal commitments of time. I have been the star party coordinator for RASC Ottawa for the last two and a half years, although this year is basically a bust. I suspect it will be my last as I have other areas to devote my time and interest. This past week, I started to canvas RASC members looking for people with scopes like mine who need help getting going. A bunch of people stuck up their hands who need other help than I can provide, but I was fine to do the survey. For those with scopes like mine, I’m going to set up a socially distanced night where we can all go to a parking lot somewhere and set up all our scopes, to see what we are all doing right / wrong and get everyone going. Someone else can help those with other types of scopes. One woman wants help with her husband’s scope out in Merrickville, and I’ll do that as a one-on-two type training. Happy to help.
Why did I do it? Because I choose to engage. I could ignore it, I could ignore the need, but a few years ago, I was in the SAME situation and drowning. I finally had to wave my hands big and high to get the equivalence of a lifeguard’s attention to help me, and I want to both pay it back, and help them pay it forward by engaging them now to help others in the future.
I also run a small book club for friends and family. It’s not extensive, we don’t discuss all the books in detail, it’s really just a FB group with about 10 active members and another 10 followers. I choose some themes each month, there’s always a reader’s choice option, and I track everyone’s progress at the end of the month and award simple little badges for their efforts.
Why do I do it? Because I choose to engage. I don’t “have” to do it, and even over the last few months as I have been overwhelmed or busy, I have let some stuff slide. Not keeping up with tracking, not awarding the badges. Basically, just noting what the goals are for a month and that’s about it. Remembering to like people’s posts when they post an update of a book they read. Yet I like the club, I like seeing people who don’t know each other except through Andrea and I interacting and finding common books they like or have read. Or others to read in the future. It’s fun. Work goes with it, but it’s fun. So last night I went through and did all the updates for May and June to catch up.
I am a member of the AstroPontiac board, mainly because I want to support my friend Stephan’s dream of building an active astroparc in Luskville, and because I have some computer skills to offer to run the website. Could someone else do it? Sure. But it’s easy to include on my website and host an active site for nominal cost. It’s not the fanciest design, but it’s functional, it meets the need. In English AND French.
Why do I do it? Because I choose to engage. I choose to help my friend, I choose to help build an astro community.
And then something showed up in my inbox yesterday. One of the big huge astronomy sites on the internet for amateurs and hobbyists is called Cloudy Nights. In other words, if you can’t do astro tonight because it’s cloudy, you can go to this site (on Cloudy Nights). If the people on the site can’t help you, the info you are looking for probably isn’t available anywhere. There are tons of sub-forums for outreach, technical discussions, photography, classifieds, reviews, etc. It has a formal sponsor from an astro equipment sales company, but it is pretty commercial-free. It looks a lot like an old-time bulletin board forum. Very much a 1980s, DOS-style design to everything. Millions of posts on there. Literally, an astronomical site for discussion. And sometimes? The friendly voice in the dark who tells you what you missed when your gear doesn’t work the way you thought it should.
The inbox visitor was a message from one of the big admins to all the members noting they were looking for new moderators to help run the site. One of my FB groups is also looking, but the CN one intrigues me. Most of the site is pretty well-defined, people know what is where, and you don’t often see an admin playing a heavy hand except perhaps to move a discussion from one forum to another when someone goes too far off-topic with a question. So CN interests/intrigues me in ways that the FB chaos does not. I set it aside for a day, and then today, I looked at it again.
They want people who have been members for more than a year; check, I’ve been there for about 7-8, the same length of time as I have had my scope, and even a bit before when I was choosing a scope. They would like people who are involved in several forum sub-groups, which I am, including Celestron mainly, but also some astrophotography, some other gear elements, etc. Computer expertise doesn’t hurt, although it wasn’t explicitly required, and they have training. But the only kicker was they would like an active member who has over 500 posts. I have around 100 topics that I’ve started and about 300 posts in total. I’m a bit shy of their desired total, but it’s not a mathematical eligibility requirement.
So I said, “Sure, here’s my specs for consideration.” Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t single me out and say, “Hey PolyWogg, we’ve seen your posts and you’re amazing, how would you like to be saddled with a bunch of behind the scenes admin/grunt work?”. They’re just doing a cattle call to see if they can help spread the workload. And maybe they’ll take me, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll put me on a list for later.
Did I have to volunteer? Nope. So why did I?
Because today I choose to engage in a number of social communities and see if I can help.
I’m not saving the world, I’m just offering a helping hand. What choices are you making today?