April is time for an Ottawa town hall by Tom Vradenburg, EAC NCR Chair

  • Wednesday, April 15, 7:30 p.m.
  • Capital Hill Hotel & Suites, 88 Albert St.
  • Free for EAC members and non-members · Door prizes too!

It’s been a couple of years since the branch executive has ‘checked in’ with the membership, and I’d like to do it before relinquishing the chair in May.

But this is not about my needs, it’s about yours as professional editors. The simple question the executive would like to ask members is, How can we make NCR more relevant to today’s professional editors?

This not to say our branch, one of the ‘original four’ branches of the association, is in any crisis. At times over the last few years, the seas have gotten dangerous, but we all grabbed onto the gunwales and rode it out. We kept holding meetings, presenting good Speaker Night programs, and organizing a full slate of seminars.

All is not well at the end of my watch, however. Branch membership is stagnant, just below 200, slipping by half a dozen per quarter, then gaining two or three. Each month we’ve had good speakers talking about interesting subjects, but perhaps a couple of dozen people come out. We wonder if it’s the weather, or the coffee, or something deeper than that.

Each year we budget $50,000 or $60,000 in expenses, then just barely break even or, more often, lose a thousand or two. We used to have a healthy cash reserve, but years of leakage has it down to about $36,000. The seminar program has suffered from government budget cuts and curbs on training, and we have more competition than ever before. We are still the cheapest training option in the market, but we are being out-marketed.

I don’t worry as much about the money as I do about people—not just having enough volunteers to keep the boat afloat, but becoming a group with enough critical mass that others want to get involved to help push the branch forward. Elections for the branch executive will be held at our meeting May 20: please consider volunteering, even in a small role.

I hope you can sense in these words a desire for renewal. The branch executive has some ideas for making our program more compelling, but this town hall is a call for more—ideas and people. Please come out on April 15, and let’s see if we can find a way out of the doldrums.

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