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The Webfooted Astronomer - June 2001

 

From the President's Pen . . . The Preamble of the Constitution of The SAS

By Mary Ingersoll

WE, a group of amateur astronomers, being desirous of securing for ourselves the pleasures and benefits of an association of persons commonly interested in amateur astronomy, for the purpose of furthering better cooperation among its members, of developing individual proficiency, and promoting public interest and educating the public in astronomy, do hereby organize and constitute ourselves as the SEATTLE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY, INC., a nonprofit, nonsectarian society, and do adopt this constitution as its governing law.

Over the years, as a member of the Seattle Astronomical Society, I have always been amazed that every November a list of members are nominated to be officers, they are introduced to those who are present at the meeting and voted into office without any question or contest. I came to the conclusion that the members are so trusting of each other that they believe all will be well no matter who's doing the job. We also have a by-law that restricts an officer to no more than two consecutive years at any post. I guess the thinking was that nobody could "muck it up" too bad in only two years. However, the problem with a two-year term is that projects and objectives remain small. We need a vision for the future.

The board has decided to develop a five-year plan that will be a budget and goal road map for us (and future officers). We want to see the club grow, not just the membership, but also economically. But we also know that even though we are your elected officers, and you trust us explicitly, this is still your club.

What are your opinions on how the club should be moving over the next five years? Based on the Preamble above, which in essence is our mission statement, how do we achieve them?

Are we a service organization? Should we concentrate our resources on projects such as our own observatory, our own library/meeting facility, telescopes and equipment, scholarship endowments?

Are we a hobby organization, funding and supporting astronomy-related special interest groups and activities? Do we provide Port-a-potties at club events and instruction to members on astronomy topics through workshops and lectures?

Are we an educational organization? Should our time and money be concentrated into serving educational programs such as Project ASTRO, Telescopes in Education, Friends of UW Astronomy, etc. Or are we all three?

Enclosed in this month's newsletter is a member survey. Please give us your opinions and either bring the survey to the July 18 meeting or mail it before July 10. We want to canvas you for your opinions, to assess the information and formulate a plan that will guide the SAS board in achieving the goals of our society.

Last November, I accepted the nomination of president because I care very much about this club and its members. I would like for the club to be a comfortable place to come and meet people, to share and learn. I would like to one day build our own observatory. Until then, we could use the Telescopes in Education program. Let's start a youth group! I would like for us to be more involved with programs at the Pacific Science Center and the University of Washington. I want us to be an educational resource for local schools and youth groups. I want to expand the library (offering books, videos, CDs, slides, educational props) and offer astronomy education programs to members and non-members. I would also like to see City Light turn off half of the streetlights in and around Seattle. I want to give "I See Stars" buttons to every participant of a local star party we put on (glow-in-the-dark?). I want picnics, star parties, and fun! And I want clean port-a-potties at Table Mountain, when we are there for non-official TM events. Our financial position is very positive at this time, but some of the programs above would require funding that could not be covered by membership dues alone. I do not propose an increase in dues, but would suggest that we apply for grants, and do some fund raising.

Also, the club now has the status as a charitable organization, and can receive monetary donations.

So, now you have my comments, let me hear yours!

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