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Audubon: local or national?

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Old Sunday 6th November 2005, 11:41   #1
Pinewood
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Audubon: local or national?

In a recent thread, I read the following, in which the "demograhic" was US bird watchers:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katy Penland
As a side note, if you're worried about Audubon's revenue stream, you might want to tell the National organization to get back to its roots. Pulling the historical % of membership dues away from their local chapters in order to fund the new "regional centers" is far more elitist and harmful to "the demographic" than anything I've seen in years. But I digress...
I belonged to the Audubon Society for one year, but I discontinued my subscription for two reasons. First I found that much of their periodical was just a travel magazine pitched to the rather well-to-do, or the elite. I doubt that I could ever justify a bird watching trip to tropical America, or that I would want to spend much extended time bird watching. Secondly, when the National Society dropped its support of the local chapters, I felt that my money was better spent on the New York chapter, with its local activities, which I have never attended, and with its scientific, conservation and outreach programs.
I wonder if other Americans have felt more attuned with their local societies than with the national organization.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinewood

Last edited by Pinewood : Monday 7th November 2005 at 10:27. Reason: usage
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Old Sunday 6th November 2005, 12:10   #2
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Yes, Arthur, I always felt more attuned to local groups over national ones when I lived in the States, and I, like you, chose to support (and be involved in) the activities of my local chapter.

Audubon Magazine was (and still is) far too slick, and some of the products I've seen advertisements for, which are completely inappropriate for an environmental group's publication, make me cringe.

It was for similar reasons that I only supported the American Birding Association for a short time. Penelope Snodgrass and $5000 trips were never my bag.

-Adam
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Old Sunday 6th November 2005, 15:07   #3
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At the moment, I am hard-pressed to think of anything more needlessly debilitating than condescending intentional, snobbish provincialism.

There are few things that any of us would agree to 100%. Both National Audubon Society and American Birding Association are far from perfect. How unreasonable it is to expect perfection (from any individual's perspective) from an organization comprised of many fallible human beings.

Yes, it is regrettable that National Audubon has withdrawn support from local chapters. This is but the latest of a series of management/mission decisions beginning some thirty-odd years ago when Audubon turned to habitat/conservation as a primary concern, rather than birds, alone. This change was an affront to many. Enmity created among the birding community has severely limited the efficacity of that decision.

Even now, we can't know the far-reaching effects of the change in focus.

My less-than-100% agreement with National Audubon's approach to conservation is largely due to my provincial proclivities--I cannot convince myself that any organization headquartered in New York City can represent my midwestern interests and concerns.

But I still support National Audubon because, overall, they are representing conservation concerns on a national level. And we certainly need a walloping dollop of that in today's climate.

Fine, support your local group. Support at all levels is a good thing. Much is accomplished at the local level. But the world is far broader than your home patch.

By not supporting an organization that deals with issues beyond your immediate area, you are acting like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand.

The national level issues will not be resolved to birder's liking without a national level organization addressing them.

We are all free to support or not support any organization. We are all free to express the reasons for our decision. But we owe it to ourselves and others to be honest about our motivation and the ramifications of our decisions for the welfare of the whole.

Oh--and it is Phoebe Snetsinger, and the ABA and its publications are about a whole lot more that $5,000 trips. 'Tis sad you weren't able to perceive that and benefit from it.

Phalarope
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Old Sunday 6th November 2005, 15:56   #4
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Thank you for the sermon. It was very educational for someone who has lived, birded, volunteered his time and donated his money on three continents.

-Adam
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Old Sunday 6th November 2005, 20:51   #5
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I may have this wrong,but I watched a prog re Audubon,and it was mentioned that for his bird etchings he would go off and kill at least 100 birds per day,so that he could achieve the perfection in his works of Art.
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Old Sunday 6th November 2005, 21:12   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christineredgate
I may have this wrong,but I watched a prog re Audubon,and it was mentioned that for his bird etchings he would go off and kill at least 100 birds per day,so that he could achieve the perfection in his works of Art.
Christine,

He probably did, but that was on the American frontier, more than a century and a half, ago, when there was no worry about habitat destruction or endangered species. His observations, paintings and etchings established ornithology in this country.
Conservation may have started, a century, ago, to prevent the destruction of herons and egrets, whose feathers were used to decorate ladies' hats. Perhaps one should think of that as interspecies agression and theft to enhance sexual display.

Happy bird watching,
Arthur Pinewood

Last edited by Pinewood : Sunday 6th November 2005 at 23:21. Reason: spelling
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Old Sunday 6th November 2005, 22:34   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christineredgate
I may have this wrong,but I watched a prog re Audubon,and it was mentioned that for his bird etchings he would go off and kill at least 100 birds per day,so that he could achieve the perfection in his works of Art.
You have it right. What a long way we have come in the last 200 years. Improved optics have allowed us to make positive identifications without killing the bird, for example.

Another change has been the advent and popularity of the Christmas Bird Count. This activity is now a bit more than 100 years old, begun by an early Audubon Society supporter as a counter-activity to the tradition (with English roots, I believe) of going out on Christmas day to blast away at anything with wings, with particular emphasis on the wren.

The Christmas Bird Count is conducted under the auspices of the National Audubon Society. Many birders in the U.S. are rankled at the $5.00 fee per individual for participation. This niggardly attitude turns a pleasant way to contribute to bird conservation into a mudslinging diatribe against the sponsoring organization every winter--a misdirection of energy and a loss to us all.

Good birding!
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Old Sunday 6th November 2005, 22:45   #8
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Quote:
Thank you for the sermon. It was very educational for someone who has lived, birded, volunteered his time and donated his money on three continents.
I don't believe it is sermonizing so much as laying her thoughts out as she sees them. There is no doubt that the National Audubon is a powerful organization that will be heard louder than any cries from the smaller local groups.

I am a chairperson for one of the local Audubons and thankfully, I can say our group, thanks largely in part to the persistence of our local President has done much in the way of saving our dwindling wetlands here in the Grand Strand region of SC.
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Old Monday 7th November 2005, 23:55   #9
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I personally go for the local chapter - the National has become, well, useless for me. I don't get anything out of the National Audubon, except a junky magazine which I have long stopped reading. With the local chapter, I get to attend trips, go to meetings, and receive a newsletter.

I wouldn't write off the ABA so quickly. They have a WONDERFUL youth program, and the publications are very interesting to me.
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Old Tuesday 8th November 2005, 01:04   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phalarope

Fine, support your local group. Support at all levels is a good thing. Much is accomplished at the local level. But the world is far broader than your home patch.

By not supporting an organization that deals with issues beyond your immediate area, you are acting like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand.

The national level issues will not be resolved to birder's liking without a national level organization addressing them.


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Old Tuesday 8th November 2005, 07:15   #11
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If Ms. Phalarope would go back and read my post answering Arthur's query, she would find that I said I "felt more attuned to local groups", especially when it came to the National Audubon Society.

She wrongly assumed that meant I didn't support any national conservation organizations, and then she proceeded to be self-righteous and patronizing.

People should support the organizations (local and/or national) that they feel strongly about and with which they feel an affinity. Just because someone is involved in birding in the United States doesn't mean that person is obligated to support the National Audubon Society. There are other national organizations that do as good a job or better.

National Audubon clearly has a problem, perhaps most sadly illustrated above by Neil, who is a dedicated young birder. People getting on a soap box questioning others' motivations and telling them they have their heads in the sand is not going to gain them any new members.

-Adam
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Old Thursday 10th November 2005, 19:36   #12
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I deeply regret any umbrage at my comments. Indeed, it should be noted in the comments above that I do not advocate anyone supporting the National Audubon Society. I do give a reason why I support it: that it plays an important role in conservation issues beyond the local level.

I applaud all efforts and contributions to conservation efforts, and do not promote any one group over another. There are many niches to be filled.

But I am concerned by the attitude shown by Brown Creeper, specifically, "the National has become, well, useless for me."

Yes, youth may be forgiven the proclivity for self-indulgence, but that is just the point. It was 45 years ago when JFK challenged, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." That does not mean it is now a moot issue.

The "what's in it for me" perspective is a key ingredient in a recipe for disaster. In an era in which information/knowledge may be obtained free on the internet, with no reciprocal action by the receiver, there is little training or incentive for working with others to achieve a common goal. There is little incentive to join any organization, pay dues, contribute to activities or effort, or even to associate with others in the "real" world if the benefits, are not obvious, immeditate, and self-oriented.

If we ignore issues beyond our immediate area, they do not disappear. Rather, they have an ugly tendency to sneak up from behind and bite us in the butt while we are contemplating our navels.

Pogo (a 'possum in a long-ago cartoon series) stated solemnly, "We have met the enemy and they is us." We harm no one but ourselves and tenets we hold dearly when we argue among ourselves or teach or condone a heavy dose of self-oriented actions in lieu of community involvement at a variety of levels.

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Old Thursday 8th December 2005, 10:35   #13
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Ran into this today and read it with disgust:

http://www.commondreams.org/cgi-bin/...05/1114-24.htm

If anyone can give me a link to a current list of National Audubon's corporate donors, I would be much obliged.

-Adam
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Old Thursday 15th December 2005, 18:38   #14
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I read the open letter. I understand his ire.

He is berating the materials for sins of omission (basically, they are pretty darn good teaching tools--I've seen them first-hand.) Seems like one positive action would be to develop and distribute materials supporting his view (filling the the gaps that have him so upset) to all entities using the Learning Tree materials.

But then, it's so much more fun playing Jack vs. the Giant, rather than doing something constructive that takes work.

At least look at the materials and discuss them with educators before you go yelling to Audubon donors half-cocked.

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Old Friday 16th December 2005, 07:47   #15
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Phalarope,

You know nothing of my efforts with regard to conservation, be they "constructive" or otherwise, so give me a break. Your continued self-righteousness is nauseating.

-Adam
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Old Friday 23rd December 2005, 15:25   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackstart
Phalarope,

You know nothing of my efforts with regard to conservation, be they "constructive" or otherwise, so give me a break. Your continued self-righteousness is nauseating.

-Adam

Geez, Adam, I know I can be obtuse, but pray tell, just how does the statement below constitute self-righteousness or impugn your work in conservation?

"At least look at the materials and discuss them with educators before you go yelling to Audubon donors half-cocked."


Given that in your last two posts you were disgusted and nauseated, perhaps you should go birding and give the vendetta a rest. Works for me.

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