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A Newer NEARA Organization

It has been difficult to find volunteers for many of the jobs that need to be done for NEARA to be successful. Partly this may be due to people not understanding what a job entails, or simply that a job seems too daunting to take on. So it would help to make the jobs as small and simple and independent as possible, and to list the jobs with a summary of each one.

In particular, the job of the First Vice President can be more explicitly partitioned into smaller jobs that different people can handle. The ones identified for conferences are: Local Arrangements, Registrar, Field Trips, Program, Audio/Visual, and Publicity. More on these roles is provided below.

Permanent and Conference Program Committees

There is a new Program Advisory Committee which is meant to help multiple jobs in NEARA -- not only for conferences but for publications as well. The purpose of the Program Advisory Committee is to help find good presenters or good authors about topics of interest to members. It must operate year-around in order to provide recommendations for the different publishers of content. It should also provide some institutional memory, which will help smooth relationships in the future.

The Conference Program Committee is effectively a superset of this Program Advisory Committee, because it would include people interested in local features and/or the conference theme. However its purpose is limited to deciding the program for a particular conference and inviting and scheduling the speakers. There might be multiple Conference Program Committees operating at the same time for different conferences.

It would be good practice for publication editors and conference programmers to consult with the Program Advisory Committee and the Board of Directors before inviting someone not already known to everyone to write in a publication or speak at a conference. Similarly, it would be good practice for publication editors and conference programmers to run their near-final drafts by the Program Advisory Committee and the Board of Directors (with a short response time limit) to increase chances of catching errors.

Member Communications Committee

It would also be desirable for NEARA members to have more frequent and different kinds of interactions with the organization. There is more to NEARA than just the Journal, the Transit, and the conferences. We need to move NEARA into the 21st century by fully embracing the use of the internet. That applies to all roles, but many of the new possibilities are grouped under the new Member Communications Committee, sometimes abbreviated as "MemComm". Some of the media that the Member Communications Committee could oversee are:

Zoom Presentations

Other groups could also use the internet more. For example, conferences need not be in-person. In fact, we did run a virtual conference during the pandemic in the fall of 2021. Besides a bunch of presentations via Zoom, we also had 7 field trips scheduled the next day all around the northeast. There were even book sales online.

The major down-side of having a virtual conference is that people cannot meet in a personal manner. But having a lot of field trips on the same day helps alleviate that need -- people can travel to whichever field trip they prefer. And virtual conferences save everyone a lot of money -- they have no hotel or meeting costs. Still, it seems most people would prefer in-person conferences.

Individual Zoom presentations could happen at any time of the year. Whenever the Webinar Manager, in cooperation with the Program Advisory Committee and the Member Communications Committee, decides there is a good presentation to be made, it can be done with relatively little effort.

Presentations need not be PowerPoint slide decks and talking heads -- they could include pre-edited videos. Videos could include site tours, demonstrations, tutorials, or anything else of interest. Each should have question-and-answer time.

Interactions between members and NEARA roles

The diagram below shows some of the interactions that can be expected, focusing on a NEARA member, with a deemphasis of some roles played by people on the Board of Directors. Click on a node to see a list of some of the job's roles.