August 2020

Another month passed and with it comes another month of social distancing, deep divisions in society revealing themselves more every day, and the craziness that always accompanies the runup to a presidential election on full display.  I usually look forward to the “dog days of summer”, but this year I just can’t wait for whatever “normal” was to return! 

For the club, this month we’ll be changing things up just a bit with the normal monthly meeting.  Instead of doing a demo via Facebook live, we’ll be moving over to the Zoom platform to hold the meeting.  This will allow for real-time interaction between club members, a much shorter lag between what’s being presented and what’s being seen, and the ability to hold club business discussions in much more depth than what we can achieve over Facebook live with so many non-members present.

The board will also be using Zoom to hold our quarterly meeting.  The agenda will be on the website, with the assumption it’ll be back up and running in time for everyone to see it.  If it’s still broken, I’ll send it out via email.  By the time this is read, our new website should be up and running.  The old site was hacked and it was better to create a whole new website than to try to fix the coding that was altered on the old site.  For those not familiar with the problems we were having, the welcome page worked fine, but clicking on ANYTHING else caused the malicious code to trigger.  (For the tech-heads, the path of the hack appears to be a plugin used by the website that was unsecured, allowing the hackers to insert code into the plugin that in turn inserted code into the main file that controls the site.)  The new site will bring with it enhanced security features, automatic backups, and MUCH improved tech support.  Hopefully, this will be the last time our site is compromised.

For the August meeting, we’ll be starting the process of selecting club officers for 2021.  Per the by-laws, the board will be presenting a slate of officers and open board positions for the club to consider.  We will be asking all members if they have an interest in “running” for any of the positions, open or not.  If you would like to help the club by joining the board, please either let me know or make your desires known at the meeting.  There will likely be openings that need to be filled and I think we’d all benefit from having some new perspectives to help steer the club into the future.

After the July demo, Andrew Stephens gave me some of the wig stands that the club had given to the art teacher for Illini Central high school to decorate.  Since the school closed down right about the time they started the wig stand project, the art teacher took them home and did some family crafting with her children.  Pictures were posted on the Facebook group and will be on the new website.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, I love to see the club’s involvement in this project and the way it has been quietly and consistently expanding over time.  Thank you to everyone who continues to support this cause.  We have a gazillion wig stand kits stored at YouthBuild, so if anyone needs any, just let me know and we can work out the details.

To back up just a bit, one of the reasons I look forward to the “dog days of summer” can be attributed (or blamed) on Hod Bailey.  He was the one who invited me to attend the annual demonstration our club does in Princeville.  When I went for the first time, two years ago, I was EXTREMELY nervous!  I was worried I wouldn’t be good enough to demonstrate, worried people would ask questions I couldn’t answer, worried I’d have some kind of catastrophic catch that would send wood flying into a crowd, worried that the other guys wouldn’t accept me there, worried that…  well, fill in the blank.  I pushed the anxiety and fear to the side and went to demo, both days.  It was an absolutely fantastic time!  It was a day full of good-natured fun, good people, and a huge boost to my confidence because I realized all the worries I had were completely unfounded.  I went last year, and although it was a slightly different crowd representing the club, the overall experience was much the same:  Laughter, enough interaction with the public to keep it interesting, but not so much that I couldn’t get some projects finished. 

This year, with the virus in full swing, no 100% treatment available, and no vaccine being doled out like Halloween candy, I honestly expected it to be canceled.  It wasn’t, but the hours on were scaled back, some events were eliminated, and only Russ and I were there to represent the club.  Perhaps not surprisingly, attendance from the public was minimal.  Still, there were those who came by that I recognized from prior years, people who were genuinely interested in what we were doing and what we brought to display, and at least one person took a trifold and seemed very interested in the meeting we hold in Pekin since her son had just bought his first lathe.  The second day was hot, humid, and about mid-morning the gentle breeze that had been so pleasant stopped.  The remainder of the day was very hot and very humid.

On the hour and a half drive home (made worse by the endless road construction) I reflected on the three times I’ve attended, to look for constants and lessons to be learned.  Two things jumped out at me.  First, if there are any club members who think they’re not “good enough” to participate in a demo, I can assure everyone in the club – from the newest member to the remaining charter members – you are certainly skilled enough to participate.  Don’t let the same insecurities I brought to the first demo stop you from participating.  I guarantee your fears will be unfounded.  I’d go one step further and say if you’re a new turner, it’s an even better opportunity, because this setting is perfect to get some hands-on mentorship and training from the club members.  The second thing that stuck in my mind was we as a club need to do more of these.  Between the greater Peoria area, Blo/No, and all the smaller towns dotting the land between, there should be many, many gatherings where we could demonstrate what we do, increase the visibility of the club, and maybe even sell a few things.  If anyone knows of an event that would be appropriate, please reach out to me or any other board member so we can figure out what we need to do to participate.

Until next time, thanks for reading, remember to register to vote, reach out to touch base with those you love, and try to get through what’s left of this lockdown in one piece.