In the April newsletter, I asked members to give me their thoughts about our interest groups, i.e., whether they are meeting your needs and if you have any ideas for new ones. So far I have only received one response, from MaryGene Page, but it was an interesting one. She is a dual member with the CHAR (Citrus Heights-American River) branch, and they have been talking about starting a current events interest group. She wondered if we might want to start one, too. She also suggested that if neither branch has enough interested members to develop a group we might have a joint group serving members of both branches.
When I put these ideas forth to some of the board members, I was surprised to learn that in earlier days of the branch there had been joint groups with other branches, and such a group would certainly still be possible. I have been a member of this branch for almost 30 years, but this was the first I had heard about that practice!
A current events group, whether joint or not, is something that would take some real thought. There are so many issues of importance being debated now throughout the world, and it could be somewhat overwhelming to choose a few to study. When I told Nancy McCabe about the idea, she suggested that the group might look at some of our mission issues, like equal pay, personal safety on college campuses, reproductive choice, or workplace harassment. That makes sense, but I think the selection should be made by the women who start the group. Another concern is that there may be issues where members have different beliefs, and it would be important to ensure that all opinions are respectfully heard. That’s where our Interest Group Ground Rules and Conflict Resolution Guidelines might come in handy.
So what do you all think about this idea? I sent info about the idea to our current interest group chairs, and Joan Hammond responded that she thought it was a good idea along the lines of the Great Decision groups, which are always full. They mostly study global issues, so maybe this group could study U.S. issues. Please let me know what you think about current event topics in general, the prospect of a joint group with CHAR, and other ideas you have that you think would improve our interest groups.
I learned recently that the evening Board Games group is no longer meeting, although the daytime group continues to meet. There are also a couple of other groups that have lost membership: Scrabble and Reader’s Theater. Our most popular groups continue to thrive: Art and Architecture, Film Fans, Great Decisions, Travel, both of our Dining Out groups, and all of our book groups, although we lost one of those last year. It seems that once a group has lost members, usually for a variety of personal reasons, it loses momentum. There is no hard and fast rule about how many members a group must have in order to continue, and I have left it up to the members to decide if and when they want to disband their group.
Since I have been Interest Groups Director, I have tried – unsuccessfully – to start several new groups. I don’t know if it is because people are too busy to add anything new to their activity schedules or because we haven’t come up with a sufficiently interesting topic for a group or because our members are more focused on our mission these days. So I’d like to put the question to our membership: What do you think about the state of our interest groups? Are you satisfied with the ones we have? Do we need some new ones? Are all of the groups in which you participate still meeting your needs and desires? Please give me some input so I can do a better job for the branch. Thanks!
One of our interest groups started out with a name I have forgotten. Then it was called the History of the World, but a couple of years ago it morphed into Cultural History. Members are curious about the world and people and what makes us tick. They pick books to read during the year that seek out perspectives on different aspects of life. In March, they will be starting a new book, Unnaturally Delicious: How Science and Technology Are Serving Up Super Foods to Save the World by Jason Lusk.
Here is what Group Chair Rosa Lee Black has to say about this book: “Our fears about foods include chemical use, high obesity rates, climate change, water availability, rising health care costs and insufficient food to feed the world. There is optimism with scientists, entrepreneurs and progressive farmers developing software to help farmers increase yields with less water and geneticists creating new varieties in order to grow more with less. Nutrient-enhanced rice and sweet potatoes are helping to solve malnutrition in the developing world. New developments are improving animal welfare, and 3D foods are becoming available at the same time, so that foods are more affordable for all to enjoy. The world has new challenges that are changing the way we think about food.”
The Cultural History interest group welcomes new members. The group meets the first Thursday of each month at 1 p.m. Call or email Rosa Lee Black (916) 453-0201 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the group.
Art & Architecture on Sacred Heart Holiday Home Tour
One of our most popular interest groups is Art & Architecture, chaired by Deborah Dunn. Currently more than 70 members come at least occasionally when the group explores a museum or visits an artist’s studio or checks out public art, either in Sacramento or elsewhere in the region. Each month a different member volunteers to plan and make arrangements for that month‘s activity. In December, the group took the Sacred Heart Holiday Home Tour.
The group meets on the first Friday of each month. On Jan. 5 the group will visit the home and gallery of internationally-exhibited artist Mehri Yazdani in El Dorado Hills. Yazdani, born in Tehran, Iran, has lived in the United States for 35 years. She has been widely exhibited both here and abroad and has won many awards for her work. Her paintings are semi-abstract, characterized by brilliant color and rich textures, and reflect the influence of ancient frescos and reliefs. Her work is on permanent display at the California State University, Sacramento Library and the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Sacramento, and the Crocker Art Museum featured her work in a 2000 exhibit. Nancy Nolen-Swanson is organizing this expedition, and you can contact her for more information.
Cherril Peabody, Interest Group Coordinator
Here is an update on what has happened with the proposed new interest groups. As you may recall, I proposed a Political Action group, but we only had three others sign up for it. After the Showcase, I learned that our Public Policy Committee is going to ask its members to write some postcards and letters to government leaders regarding AAUW-supported issues. As I had foreseen our group would do this activity, I referred the members who had signed up for the interest group to Public Policy.
The other suggested new group was Chamber Music. Since only two members signed up for that group, it will not happen. However, I want to tell those of you who are interested in attending chamber music concerts about a chamber music series at California State University, Sacramento, called New Millennium. The first concert has already taken place, but there are three more scheduled for the Spring semester. The School of Music brings in excellent chamber music groups from all over the world. The performances have been excellent, and the cost is very reasonable. For more detailed information, check out the website: csus.edu/music/newmill. The School of Music also sponsors a piano series featuring world-class pianists. To learn more, contact csus.edu/music.
I am sorry we didn’t have enough interested members to start either of these two groups, but I am very open to trying to start new groups. Please contact me if you have an idea, especially if you would be willing to be a new group’s first chair.
The Showcase meeting on September 23rd was very well attended (see the photo), but there was so much to see, hear and do that not very many members signed up for new interest groups. The following groups will still welcome new members: Art & Architecture, Board Games (Day and Evening groups), Film Fans, Great Decisions III, Readers Theater, Scrabble Just for Fun, Singles Dining Out and Travel. Couples Dining Out can take one more couple and both bridge groups will welcome substitutes. You can check out the Interest Groups Meeting Schedule in Capital Ideas for days and times the groups regularly meet.
We have had a few people sign up for two new proposed interest groups: Political Action and Chamber Music (attendance at concerts), but we need at least as few more prospective members for each and we especially need members who are willing to chair these groups. The new groups would have to be approved by the board, but they won’t be presented until sufficient membership and leadership has been established. The meeting day and time for each group is to be determined. For more information about the proposed groups contact Cherril Peabody at email@example.com.
Some book groups also are accepting new members. For information about book groups see the book group schedule in Capital Ideas and contact Linda Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope to see you at our Showcase meeting on September 23rd, where you will have the opportunity to sign up for interest groups.
Folks have suggested several new groups that you may be interested in helping to form:
- A political action group is one which would have group members express support for AAUW positions to their elected officials via letters, postcards or visits.
- Another related idea is a book group that reads about political topics.
- A third idea is a group whose members would attend chamber music concerts together.
Interested? Come to the Showcase and sign up. We need engaged and interested members.
All ideas are welcome for new interest groups, just let me know before the meeting, so that I can have a sign-up sheet ready. Contact me at email@example.com or 916-973-0821. I hope to see you there!
Our 2016-17 AAUW year is winding down, and I want to give a status report and start getting ideas for the next program year, which begins in July. I just learned that one of our popular interest groups is coming to an end: Walk to Lunch. They started off the year with 23 members and ended the last three months with two walkers. That’s a shame, but it is evident that group members’ interests and priorities have changed, and there is no sense continuing with so little participation. A big thank you is due to Susan Potter for her seven years of leading this group! Are there other groups that are having a hard time and may be feeling their time is up?
What about next year? I’d like to start planning now for some new groups. What about a political action group that meets to discuss current issues and to compose and send letters and postcards to political leaders advocating for issues of concern to women? Also, there were a couple other good ideas last year that maybe didn’t receive enough publicity. One idea was for a group that would attend film screenings of the Metropolitan Opera together. Another was for a group that would play chamber music together. I know we have musicians and opera buffs among our members. Maybe you can think of a specific mission-based project that you think we could manage as an interest group. Please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in any of these ideas or if you have another one you think might be popular.
Our 2016-17 AAUW year is winding down, and I want to give a status report and start getting ideas for the next program year, which begins in July. One of our popular interest groups is coming to an end: Walk to Lunch. They started off the year with 23 members and ended the last three months with only two walkers. That’s a shame, but it is evident that group members’ interests and priorities have changed, and there is no sense continuing with so little participation. A big thank you is due to Susan Potter for her seven years of leading this group! Are there other groups that are having a hard time and may be feeling their time is up? If so, please let me know.
I would like to start planning now for some new groups. What about a political action group that meets to discuss current issues and compose and send letters and postcards to political leaders advocating for women’s issues? Also, there were a couple other good ideas last year that maybe didn’t receive enough publicity. One idea was for a group that would attend film screenings of the Metropolitan Opera. Another was for a group that would play chamber music. I know we have musicians and opera buffs among our members. Maybe you can think of a specific mission-based project that we could turn into an interest group. Please email me at email@example.com if you are interested in any of these ideas or if you have one of your own.
On March 3, Art and Architecture Interest Group members were treated to a special tour of “Out Our Way,” an exhibit at the new Manetti Shrem Museum of Art on the UC Davis campus. The exhibit is an inaugural exhibition for the Manetti Shrem, which opened in November 2016. The exhibit presents 240 painting, sculptures, drawings, and prints that explore the development of the UC Davis Department of Art, founded in 1958.
Founding Chair Richard L. Nelson built what would become an internationally recognized art department and creative community during his tenure from 1952 to 1970. Nelson hired 12 of the artists whose works are shown in the exhibition: Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, William T. Wiley, Roy De Forest, Roland Petersen, Manuel Neri, Ralph Johnson, Ruth Horsting, Daniel Shapiro, Rio Giambruni, Jane Garritson, and John Baxter.
Our tour was made even more special by our guide, museum Deputy Director Randy Roberts, Ph.D. Roberts was heavily involved in the design and construction phase of the museum and shared her unique perspective about the building architecture and the way the art is displayed. Roberts usually does not lead tour groups, but our Art and Architecture Interest Group tour coordinator Alice Hammel was able to arrange for Roberts to be our guide. Everyone attending the tour was especially grateful for the extra time and attention we received.
From Cherril Peabody: Interest group members, please take some photos when you do something special with your group. Even if you are just discussing a book or eating healthy (or unhealthy) food, make a memory with a few photographs. When you do, please send them to me so I can incorporate a couple into the next Interest Groups newsletter article.