Friday, May 6, 2011

Colorado State Convention - 2011

Hello, Dear Readers. I'm Jordan, from the Boulder Branch, guest-blogging here at AAUW-Colorado. The State Convention was an engaging success.  I had the honor of being one of the presenters on Saturday morning, and the greater honor of being in the audience to hear from Margaret Coel, our State Association committees, and our guest from the National Association, Director-at-Large Alicia Hetman.

Here are some moments that stick out most for me:

The spirited discussion of how bylaws changes at the National level filter through the State and local Branch levels (in the context of National association rights and actions in the event of branch dissolution), and a clarification of the changes made to the fund-raising and philanthropic arm of AAUW (AAUW Funds), explaining why the Educational Foundation is no more, but members have more one-stop freedom of where their contributions go.  I don't often get to see the organizational structure work from local to national and back, so getting to see all the interconnectedness was a treat.

How our organization is structured, and how all the pieces work together has a great effect on how much of our mission we can accomplish, and the afternoon session got right into the nuts-and-bolts of how AAUW works, can work, and a discussion of how it should work, to achieve that common mission.

Patty Limerick's speech on Saturday evening. Professor Limerick is a delight, and introduced us to Western women whose voices we may never have heard-of, and viewpoints of our local history that we may never have considered.  She introduced us to Margaret Carrington, wife of the commanding officer of Fort Phil Kearney in Wyoming, who observed the tensions between United States and the tribes whose territory the land was in the 1860s, and recorded a journal. Then she introduced us to Mary Roberts Coolidge, who wrote about the unreasonableness of the anti-Chinese-immigrant sentiment. And finally, we heard the story of how Prof. Limerick was introduced to the work of Edna Ferber. The story's not mine to tell, but suffice to say, I'll be picking up one of Ms. Ferber's books, and diving into the world she describes sometime very soon.

Lori Giangola, one of the Brown Ricketts Udick grant recipients, presented her multi-disciplinary field of research to us, and what struck me was the view toward collaborative problem-solving that she diagrammed.  When discussing the practical uses of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, there's often a focus on deliverables - particularly patented deliverables. And while that is indeed a big part of how the fruits of STEM research are integrated into main-stream life, it's a narrow view of the possibilities. Lori presented a reason for research outside of that arena (research to determine the return on investment, or return on cost for environmental measures that carry lasting impact - foundational work for the incentives programs we hear so much about in the news - my simplification-summary of her simplification-presentation of her work).  The projects that take many areas of study to complete are very interesting to me, proving that the sum of our knowledge is greater than any one specialization (like Voltron could be a metaphor for- if you'll forgive the geek moment).

And from my own workshop, the thing that sticks out most was the interest in using Social Media as a means to an end - where the end is to communicate with the population of people out there who support AAUW's mission, even if they've never heard of AAUW. I was asked primarily about how to reach the people that we want to reach, and what platforms make it easier for that group to find us. It showed a focus on the goal, past the trend in any given technology, and a willingness to use technology perhaps beyond one's comfort level to achieve these common goals. While I was illustrating the communication power of the "Share" tools on any given blog (including this one), the participants were giving me hope for bridging what is becoming something of a communication divide within our branches.

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