Grand President is the greatest position bestowed upon a Native Son! There is no question is it is a time bandit; it is challenging, it is glorious and it can be grueling. It takes away from one’s personal time, family functions, it overwhelms the green time in the work day, traveling or being away from home 4-5 nights a week. The phones can ring at any time, e-mails are a constant flow and nonstop. Reading reports or writing letters, planning weekend events, placing priorities on what projects must be completed and by whom. Now add all the new marketing, social media, membership programs, retention programs, website and advertising with the possibility of forming strategic relationships with other state, federal or nonprofit groups. Create new websites, database and email communications on top of that I have found this to be the GREATEST POSITION in all my years. Thank you for electing me. I would not change a single thing. It is an honor to be your Grand President and I am having a great time—so hang on and let’s have some fun together as I get to write my second of six articles for your enjoyment.
Proud of Our Accomplishments
We should all be proud: we have just celebrated our 140 years of service and dedication to the State of California, and as I have made the time to read old versions of the Grizzly Bear (circa 1910-1922) I found out more information about the Native Sons than I knew was even possible. I believe most of you know that NSGW was responsible for recognizing the Bear Flag as the state flag in 1911. I think most of our beloved members know that we were saving historic and iconic building and creating plaques to recognize that they would have historical significance in the hundreds of years to come. It has filled me with great pride to know that we created and pushed the legislation back in 1923 to create systems such as California State Parks. Sure, I read that in our beautiful piece that continues to be placed in our new membership packages, but have you read it lately? I went online to look up one item and found myself looking at multiple items that the Native Sons had pursued with a passion. Some items were negative, but no different than what other groups were doing at that time, so that did not surprise me. But a vast majority of our efforts are glorious and need to be applauded. I challenge you to Google “Native Sons Grizzly Bear.” It will give you a whole new insight.
Why Join an Organization?
Have we forgotten what we did that attracted new members? Why does one join an organization today? There are many more to choose from! Fifty years ago in Sonoma there were maybe six nonprofits; there are more than 110 today, including “Save the Snow Leopards” and “Praxis Peace Institute.” They may be very worthy, but they are going after the same thing—money and members! It is the same everywhere; we are asking for their time and money, of which most people have very little, or don’t have the ability to share it with one group or several. Have we narrowed our vantage point to such a place that we think this Order is about dinners and meetings? Our goals should be no different than our goals were over 100 years ago, although times have changed and membership has declined. It is not because the members don’t care or the public doesn’t think that are mission is worthy. The public and our audience had most likely never even heard it before. I am not the only one who has been asked “Who are the Native Sons” or my favorite, “I thought you guys were all dead.”
Here’s What We Need to Do
First, Grand Parlor needs to produce, support and educate our parlors and members. We need to rebuild from within and it does not need to be done all at once. We need to create an infrastructure for our current parlors and members, including the younger or potential ones that will follow in the future.
Second, we have started rebuilding our brand and marketing it to the public through all means necessary. We need to not only spend time on this message, we need to spend money. It does not need to be done all at once but at least we can stop the downward trend and build momentum back towards greatness.
Thirdly, we are looking at things that build excitement or offer value to joining an organization such as the Native Sons. California Adventure Clubs is a reason to join and stay. All of our parlors need to find an event in their own community, but I find that to be a very broad stroke, so we have just completed our meeting with California State Parks and this is what PGP Dwight Dutschke had to say: “Spending more than two and half hours with the two people who not only make the decisions regarding the state’s most significant historical resources, but who also can provide access to information and projects which could directly shape the Native Sons’ historic preservation program, was a huge accomplishment and positions our Order for meeting our founding objective of preserving the history of ‘49 and California. Once again, the Historic Preservation Foundation leads the way in meeting the mission statement of our Order. Stay tuned—these meetings are only the beginning, but build on the efforts of the last fifteen years to restore old relationships with the California State Parks. Our future is looking brighter than ever. Congratulations to all for each of your contributions to the group’s efforts.”
Native Sons will now have access to a database that is being produced by State Parks and we will be able to pick and choose over 280 state parks including HOV parks, mansions and cultural icons that we feel will be in our budget or within a region that we can support if a parlor wishes to do so. We may just want to help the State Parks Associations that may need help or some money. But is that not a worthy reason to join and make a difference? I think that is a great reason to join NSGW or NDGW! As Parks Director Lisa Mangat said to us “Who does not love a Park?” We all do; we are like a big family.”
Grand Parlor Eager to Help!
This is just one example that we can use to promote our mission. I know each parlor has something that makes it special. But if for some reason you don’t have that, we at Grand Parlor are here to help find you that project worthy of your efforts. It only starts with one person’s idea or goal and we are here to help you accomplish something great, something that we can all be proud of when telling friends or family that we belong to the Native Sons and would they like to join.
Until the next issue, in Friendship, Loyalty and Charity,