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.
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!
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.
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!