Thursday, 20 June 2013

Smell the coffee (3)

Continued from 'Smell the Coffee (2)'

A different perspective

The Commode
I had a long conversation about this very topic with a very knowledgeable friend. With donkeys years of boating under his belt. I wanted to get a different perspective to my own. He said that he personally thought there was still a place for the larger associations. 

This prompted me to ask, where will the association members get their news and topical comment from. Who will keep their members informed and ultimately guide their opinions. The paid for recycled paper newsletter or in the free up-to-the-minute on line magazines and forums. In this age of falling membership numbers. What value in real terms do large boating associations actually provide for the paid membership beyond a brass plaque and a pennant. The recycled news printed on recycled paper is a tired format. 

Boat's for sale ads are covered in great depth on the Internet. Selling on old bits of unwanted kit is covered by eBay. Numbers attending at an organised rally or festival are now largely dictated by the weather and the lack of maintenance  With the best will in the world, the sight of people at the 'play group' with titles such as commodore are a bit passée and out dated.

Searching for a reply, he said "well there is still the members letters page where they can exchange views.I replied, "It might be better if it was the readers wife's pageYou could take it a bit further and have pictures on page three of a voluminous wide-beam with a name like Gladys. Complete with a write up that describes Gladys as being built for comfort and not for speed. Handles and responds well to the touch and will come at a price you can afford." 

Then he said, OK cleaver clogs - so what would you do about it then. I thought about it for awhile.  I said I honestly don't know, but I am sure that my footwear may not hold the answer. But I can clearly see the problem. Knowing what I know as an outsider. I had made my mind up a long time ago that the association was not one for me. I could see that they were been overtaken by technology change. Although fast overtaking retirement age myself, I recognise that the age demographic on the inland waterways is quite high. That in their present format and without embracing change, their future is under threat from being completely out of touch with younger people and their expectation of a fast, snappy on-line lifestyle. 

Pride and prejudice 

The only thing that could bring young people to the canals, is to be encouraged to have a live-aboard lifestyle. This sort of lifestyle must be enjoyed from an early age. The continued opposition towards people leading such a lifestyle is myopic and a self fulfilling prophesy for the future. Like people on the bank who own a holiday caravan, who choose to take their two week holiday in a caravan park. These are often the very same people who take exception to the gypsy culture, and those who have chosen to live all their lives in a caravan. Family holiday and weekend boat owners seem to have the same myopic NIMBY perspective. Especially to those who want to bring up their family afloat. Whilst at the same time living a bohemian lifestyle, working and not being yet another state funded statistic. The prejudiced NIMBY's want to set their take of the inland waterways lifestyle as being the norm.

Small, tight knit communities are all well and good and a positive for the small, specialist association. But for a national association, as Mr Dylan sang "the times they are a changing" and it's now happening not on a daily basis but more like an hourly schedule.

Then realisation dawned, its because of the abrogation of any real semblance of  independence. No longer being in a position to be providing clear representation of the membership. Challenging and monitoring is a bit difficult when you are snuggled up in bed with the other side. The memorandum of understanding has like a vasectomy emasculated the association in a single snip. The one thing that brought the larger associations into existence, is the one thing that has been planned or carelessly thrown away. Their independence and action  without fear or favour.

Now, CaRT is being taken to task by individuals who are doing more than the associations to ensure that an effective oversight is being kept. The individuals can now easily question issues that need clarification. The same activists can join together in ad hoc groups on an individual issue by issue basis.


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