Blog 10- The Interest Group Meeting
The purpose of this post is to discuss the community interest group meeting and the events leading up to it.
The few weeks leading up to the meeting were a little quieter than normal. I sent group emails to remind people about the meeting. I had two groups of people who I needed to email. One was the group who I previous met individually with. Another was the group that I had not yet met with. I mentioned this in my previous blog. I brought both groups up to speed so I was able to email them as one big group.
Some responded quickly and some did not. Some did not respond at all. This is the nature of the beast with group emails. I knew this, but waiting can be still hard. While I waited, I started to work on how to plan the meeting. I reach out to a few people and did a little online research, but it was not that helpful. The best thing for me was to think what exactly I wanted out of the meeting. I want a list of ideas/improvements/etc. that was ranked somehow. I am also a person who likes visuals and who imposes his preferences on other people, so I knew maps where going to play a role. After some brainstorming with Jenny Isler, we came up with following schedule:
- Meet and settle-in
- Opening and welcoming – 5 Minutes
- Purpose and induction of everyone – 10 Minutes
- Handout individual maps and have everyone draw their “dream Hadwen arboretum” – 10 minutes
- Everyone draw their ideas on one big map. 10 minutes
- Rap-up, thanks, and good- byes
The idea is that people will take 10 or so minute with markers, pens, and pencils to draw on the own individual maps. Then, each person would stand up and explain and draw what improvement they would like to see and a big group map. The plan was that this would show over lap and where people disagreed. Jenny would also be recording ideas on a poster board in case some ideas were not draw able, like invasive plant removal.
Getting the space was also a little trick because Clark University is starting to gear up for Week One. Week One is the orientation period for freshmen. It starts a week before classes and requires a ton of prep (according to one of my friends who is a coordinator for this Week One). I loved my week one, but now as a rising senior, it means I need to find an after-hour time to meet.
A day or two before the meeting, I made some posters with historic maps of Worcester, a copy of Hadwen’s will, and documentation of the WWI victory garden. I plan to use these posters to show some of the neat stuff I found during my research.
An hour before the meeting, I had time to set up the room. When people first started to show up, that was when I was the most nervous. I slipped up a little when introducing everyone and starting the meeting. Once we started, I felt much better and things ran smoother. Everyone was very engage and polite. Scott Lindgren, Rick Miller, Nicole Apostola, Walter Crackett, Liz Tomaszewski, Scott Guzman, and Tovia Shapiro were there. It was by enlarge, a success.
The most reoccurring suggestions were define maintain trails, encourage native plants, build information kiosks, get rid of invasive plants, improve the composting zone, and clean up front area. The aesthetics and health of the arboretum is important to the interest group. This makes a lot of since because they live near it. They see it and use it regularly.
An interesting thing that I observed was the sizes of the dream compared to age. I originally expected the participants who were closer to my age to have bigger, more expensive ideas and the more mature participants to be more conservative and practical with their suggestions. I found quite the opposed. The younger participant talked about smaller, simpler things like expanding the community garden out a little bit, making a small sitting space, roping off an area reserved for training (arborist, Master gardeners, etc.) The more mature members brought things like acquiring the house in between Fairlawn Hospital and the Arboretum and using it as a visitor center. After giving it some thought I have a hypothesis on this unexpected phenomenon. The older people in the meeting have lived around the arboretum longer and plan to live there longer than myself. The members who were closer to my age may not see the arboretum in the bigger long-term picture as much as the other members. This is not to say that one group is more important than the other. It is completely the opposite. Both groups where vital, short and long term thinking, old and young, big and small.
I was very happy with the meeting. Now I have to start taking everything I have attained with summer and write a strategic outline for the arboretum. I also need to write a history report about the Hadwen Arboretum. I have done most of the legwork. Now I have to transcribe my work into a presentable format.