"WGNC exists to promote woodturning education and generate a better understanding of woodturning as an art form. We provide a meeting place to members and guests to share their ideas and techniques and to display their work."
Above is the mission statement for the Woodturners Guild of North Carolina. While it is not explicitly stated in the mission statement an important benefit of membership is that of social interaction with our peers. For a couple of hours each month we gather to share ideas, learn new techniques, refine our skills, critique our work and most importantly socialize with our fellow artists. Who could have imagined at the start of 2020 that continuing this wonderful social interaction would become so very challenging?
Like every other organization, WGNC had to retool the process for delivering our mission with the onset of Covid 19. While we had to cancel our March meeting, I am proud of the fact that we have steadily offered at least two sessions in each of the following seven months. We have become proficient with the virtual delivery of our meetings with a combination of paid demonstrators and presentations by our members. I am particularly proud of the additional meeting we have added for “Show and Tell” on the third Thursday each month. Participation in this meeting has grown each month and it is now a two-hour lively exchange about technique and critique. I am most impressed by the genuine interest and respectful commentary (often laced with humor) offered by the members.
While we have become proficient with virtual delivery of our meetings, this delivery method is not without its challenges. Among them:
- Participation by members in our virtual meetings requires some proficiency with technology as well as having the necessary equipment.
- Many of our members are doing online meetings for a large part of their day for their jobs, online education and even keeping up with their friends and families. This can lead to “Zoom burnout”.
- No matter how hard we try to make our gatherings interactive, there is no way we can replace the in-person socialization of our normal meetings.
We recognize these challenges and we are working to improve our processes to accommodate them.
- We have offered to assist any member who needs help with the technology (hardware or software) in order to connect with us.
- We are working to offer high quality presentations so that the time you commit to our meetings is meaningful and worthwhile.
- While we cannot replicate in-person interaction in our virtual meetings, we are opening most of our sessions 30 minutes early to allow time for casual ”virtual“ socializing should you wish to join in.
Looking to 2021, there is much uncertainty relative to the availability of meeting space and the advisability of in-person gatherings. We hope to once again offer in-person meetings in 2021 but we do not know when it will be feasible. We have prepared our programming for the first half of the year with the assumption that virtual meetings will continue but will adapt should in-person meetings become available. We have confirmed national demonstrators with new and interesting topics for at least half of our meetings and we will continue to fill out the schedule with demonstrators with both strong woodturning virtual skills.
We are also planning to enhance our programing for next year with improvements including:
- When we go back to in-person meetings, we recognize that some members may not be able to (or wish to) attend so we plan to continue to live stream our meetings on Zoom in addition to hosting live events.
- We plan to continue the virtual “Show and Tell” meetings. We have received very positive feedback on these meetings and we think that it is worth trying to continue this format even after we go live.
- When feasible, we will record our virtual sessions and offer these recordings online for those who were unable to attend the live event (or just need a refresher).
- We are upgrading our technology to support the presentation of virtual demonstrations.
- We will continue to offer support for those members that need help connecting to the virtual delivery format.
We have exciting programming planned for 2021 but we can only continue to offer this content if you support the organization by renewing your membership. Please do so today by clicking this membership renewal link.
Finally, I would like to offer my thanks to the members of the WGNC Board of Directors. The transition to virtual programing required many hours of work by many people. The members of the Board responded with thoughtful planning and rapid execution. As your president, I could not have asked for anything better from this committed group of people. Be sure to thank them.
Looking to a healthy and creative 2021
President - WGNC