Old Diary

A Conundrum


Last night it suddenly struck me:  how absurd it is for Peg and I to be working on this Welcome Guide for Volunteers — seeing as we never seem to ‘like’ the things that other people like.

Welcome

We had a lot of fun yesterday.  Nothing all that exciting — but fun nevertheless.

When I was young my mom realized early on that I had a short attention span.  My parents had a small hardware store — the kind that was driven out of business in the 50’s by the advent of True Value and Ace — bigger, better, open longer, and just a little bit nicer than the ma & pa places in local neighborhoods.  She watched me (I was about kindergarten age) play with the toys and tools in the hardware store and realized that no matter what I said I wanted, that if I had it for a little while that was often all I wanted of that thing:  just the experience of it, not the ownership.  Soon they would take that to the next step and bring home all the catalogs they could find — and I would leaf through them and vicariously I satisfied my longing for the experience of things without their ever having to purchase them all.  I’m sure I inherited that trait from my paternal grandmother who always had to have the newest and nicest new inventions: kitchen mixers even though she didn’t cook, a wire recorder (pre-dating tape recorders), and ionic air fresheners.  You name it — she had to have it.  I always felt sorry for my grandfather!

wire recorder 1

an early 1950’s wire recorder

But, back to my story…

Over the past several weeks we’ve collected about 30 lbs of printed material — all easily available here to anyone taking the time to stop at the local visitors’ centers.  There is a lot of info to be had about all the really neat things to do, and all the really expensive things to do, and all the things that were here 50 years ago that not so many people want to do today because  they are no longer cutting edge experiences as they were all that long ago.

We were smart enough when we began looking for information to include a request for information for new residents when speaking with visitors center docents.  And the New Resident Packets may prove to be the most helpful for our needs of all the information we have collected.

We took all our pamphlets and brochures into the Work Center and laid them all out on the table and started organizing and sorting through them.  I feel good that we did a good job of avoiding duplication — too many things LOOK interesting and it’s easy to pick up the same one from different locations on different days.

There IS a lot of ‘stuff’ for people to do here.  I’m sure that is a true statement anywhere you could live.  There in lies the problem.

We want to be helpful. We won’t be here forever. And foremost, our tastes almost universally differ from all our friends:  they love sports, we don’t; they love loud hobbies, we don’t;  we love birds, they love dogs;  we enjoy different kinds of food, and too often our friends want same-oh, same-oh, same-oh.  When I look back at our furniture choices, at our housing choices, at our career choices, even at the way we found each other and the speed with which we got married – we have always been the thumb on one side of the hand and our friends have always been the fingers…. just a little bit of opposition.

decisions, decisions, decisions

decisions, decisions, decisions

It doesn’t help that the request for a welcome guide came in only the vaguest of terms.  But, faced with an empty sheet of paper, or in my case an empty computer screen — what goes down in black and what do we ignore in white?  It’s a conundrum, a puzzlement.

New residents want to know about utilities and doctors and where to get ‘stuff’; some of which are the same things volunteers want to know.  Because we’re making this up for our volunteers we can’t/don’t want to be seen as promoting one business over another so there’s some mandate for objectivity, or perhaps the better word might just be inclusivity.  But because we aren’t going to be here forever there’s a serious concern to create something that won’t obsolesce quickly, or won’t need lots of updating.

We learned a lot yesterday.  Some 10 pages of information are now keyboarded.  How to present and organize  it all is still a mystery.  But how often do projects spring to mind fully formed?  For me, not very often.

I like this project because it’s an open slate.  The Volunteer Handbook was largely structured before I got here.  When I took over, there was information that had to be retained; and that sort of gave shape to what we added.  Function dictated form.  The Guide doesn’t fit in that mold. It will be fun watching  how it all comes together.

Peg had an interesting idea that I hadn’t considered.  Why not put a minimal edition together and get that out to our volunteers — because about 1/3 of them are new to the Dunes — and then add monthly new sections as part of our volunteer communications program.  I’m thinking about that one.  As with any idea there are plusses and minuses.  This is going to be a work-in-progress — I can see that.

Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll talk with you tomorrow!

 

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6 thoughts on “A Conundrum

  1. Mrs. P says:

    I like your idea of a general welcome book…and Peg’s of distributing to the newbies. Anything that orients and allows one some certainty of their surroundings is a good thing and will help in maintaining a positive perspective of their volunteer gig.

    A lot of what you describe about the kind of interest you and Peg have are similar to Rick and I…though there are some big differences as well. I think that is one of the reason’s I warmed up to your blog. You aren’t same oh, same oh…neither am I. I have always tried to be an individual, an avoided being part of the pack…choosing my own path instead.

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    • Mrs P — Being an individual can be so rewarding — but it can also be a pain in the butt. It never bothered me that Peg & I would spend our money on activities/things our friends seemed not to value — heck the money I still have in camera equipment is almost obscene — but it also amazes me that things we value mean so LITTLE to others. The experience of selling our house — and the accompanying estate sale — was a shocker. So many things I thought were really nice went on the block for so little and stuff I though of as JUNK often fetched handsome amounts. Go Figure!

      We’ve had an interesting wrinkle appear on the surface. There’s been an in-house promotion here and I’m waiting (this may take a few weeks / months to develop) to see how it all plays out and whether it changes our attitude about our time here. Even though the announcement came very recently I know enough about people to see both plusses and minuses as potential results.

      The monthly updates idea is growing on me. I know that I sometimes react negatively to an idea but I also know that I am usually reacting to a complication of PROCESS not to a dis-valuing of the idea. We puttered a little on Friday and Saturday assembling content and working on form, but I’m still flummoxed about what kind of format to apply to a periodic update? Assembling ALL of the information into an ultimate booklet to go to new arrivals — say next spring — will be easy, but you know how people are with printed matter. Giving it to them in a way they can use it, won’t lose it isn’t going to be quite as simple as it sounds.

      In the meanwhile — we are learning a lot about the area and have some ideas for weekend trips — if we aren’t so tired by the end of the ‘work week’ that we just collapse like we did this weekend.

      Cheers,

      P

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  2. Linda Sand says:

    I see it as two booklets or, at least, two sections:

    1. What you need to know now: medical, grocery stores, post office, etc.

    2. What you might want later: sights to see, adventures to have, etc.

    If each section provides name, address, phone and URL then they can follow up easily on the parts that interest them. Don’t list specific prices as that is what is most likely to change although you can use the $, $$, $$$ symbols to give an idea of price range. And you can say things like daily, weekdays only, Oct-Apr, etc. to give an idea of when available. The goal is to minimize the amount of data likely to need updating.

    These are things I’ve learned from culling data from various tourism sites as we planned our own travels. I also make a separate category for places to eat; they started as part of section two but got their own after I realized I might want to fit them in between a couple other things.

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    • Linda,
      Your ideas are pretty much what we have been working on. Pricing isn’t even on our radar. Volunteers are going to be here a goodly long while and they’ll all have access to the same visitors’ centers we did.
      All I really want to accomplish is to provide them with essential services — and emergency services like 24 hour animal hospital, etc. –in case they need them unexpectedly, and then ideas they can follow up on themselves.
      I’m sure some of our volunteers will be far more adventurous explorers than Peg and I — I think I am less concerned with providing the information about all the various entertainments / festivals and more about providing them tools to meet their own interests while in the area.
      And on a slightly different train of thought there are bound to be changes in how the Forest Service administers this area. Right now we are open year round and all our campgrounds are manned by volunteers. But numerous campsites around us are manned by concessionaires and is there a movement in one direction or the other? Your guess is as good as mine.
      Thanks for the suggestions — I think I’m going in the right direction. 🙂 🙂

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  3. How fun that you can “define” the items in the book for others. Definitely include the “need to know” things, then just run with the rest. I bet a lot of people will be interested in what you have to share, for sure.

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    • Trying to put together something that won’t be an ongoing updating nightmare is going to be the key. A challenge for sure.

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