"Great Decisions is America's largest discussion program on world affairs." So says the Foreign Policy Association that sponsors it all over the United States. At our resort there are five discussion groups; mine was established three years ago and is the newest of the five. I'm the moderator for the group - responsible for organizational coordination with other groups, communication to my own group, and facilitating the discussions.
Great Decisions has been going on at our resort for over 20 years. The other moderators have been around for almost that long, so they are old hands. Each year we lose some participants (mostly due to moving away or death - this is a 55+ resort, after all) and pick up some new ones. To promote the program, flyers are put up on community bulletin boards, a blurb is included in the monthly resort newsletter, the program has a table at the Saturday morning coffee sessions in January with pictures of the various groups from prior years. There's also a "Show and Tell" in March for the many activities at the resort to display their work.
I wondered whether these promotion activities were yielding results. So last Thursday I asked each of my 12 participants how they got started with Great Decisions. All but one had seen a flyer or a notice in the resort newsletter or had talked to someone who was in the program. Only one had found out about it at a Saturday coffee. No one had heard about it through Show and Tell.
I sent the result of my poll to my fellow moderators. This year we're not going to participate in Show and Tell and we're not going to take group photos. If the goal is to increase participation in the program, we need to talk about it. People who are drawn to foreign affairs discussions will find us.
My other group is called Re-Imagining God. It's kind of a spiritual discussion group, not based on a religion but in the sense we have that there's something out there that's greater than us, and that in some sense we're all one. There's very little talk of God and none of religion. This year I am on the planning committee.
I was tasked one week with finding a political or religious conservative to participate in a communication training session. I had a hard time. Several people were put off by the group's title. When I look around the room, everyone in the group is liberal; we may say we're welcoming and inclusive, but it doesn't look like it.
I wondered if changing the group name might be helpful. I talked to a friend in the group and we explored possible alternatives like Safe Harbor and Elder Seekers. Then the friend thought of "Re-Imagining" as a prefix for the theme of the year - Re-Imagining Oneness, Re-Imagining Ourselves, Re-Imagining Politics, Re-Imagining Communication. I suggested this idea to the group's founder and organizer. She wasn't interested.
On the home front, where I can make decisions, we're moving along:
- I have a wonderful new night guard for my teeth, courtesy of my Mexican dentist.
- The painting of the park model will be done by the end of this week - no more dark wood paneling!
- We bought the Levelor blinds that will replace the dark curtains in the Arizona room.
- We found a small, comfortable patio set for a great price, and we only had to go back to Lowe's once to get the right legs for the table.
- Husband Art's play is next weekend and we're ready for the family coming in from San Diego and Seattle.
- I've made my plane reservations to travel home on Saturday, April 4, with Larisa the Designer Cat.
- My hairdresser has helped me go gray faster rather than waiting for the old color to grow out.