Thursday, July 28, 2011

Healthy Fervor

By Kevin McCray, Executive Director
National Ground Water Association
Westerville, OH

I recently posted to one of our association’s discussion boards a question asking what members thought are the top questions to be answered in our field. One answer certainly caught me off guard.

“This is part of the problem,” the respondent wrote, “when reputable groups attempt to accomplish a valuable service and end up creating a fervor.”

He went on to share comments about our field and continued with the need for responsibility in what we speak and what we write.

I don’t disagree with any of that. I certainly like it when we’re called a reputable group. But, I’m uncertain how my question leads to “fervor.” How do we hold civil discourse unless we openly talk or write about our thoughts and their implications?

Public Affairs Council President Doug Pinkham in his own blog of July 25, shares that America’s political gridlock might be a result changes in American community design and social interaction. He cites a National Affairs article by Marc Dunkelman who claims Americans are missing those talks with regular acquaintances, local business owners, fellow PTA members, or neighbors. Today, we’re all “honeycombed,” Dunkelman writes (Faith Popcorn called it “cocooning.” Robert Putnam named it “Bowling Alone.”)

Our missing relationships, according to Dunkelman, are needed to “ground the broad understanding that an integrated society will be more dynamic than one in which opposing interests perpetually snipe at one another…”

We have many ways in which we should create a little healthy fervor. One significant value of social media is for that one more opportunity to hold yet another conversation with yet another member – hopefully many members.

While we have to guard against applying too much grease to the latest squeaky wheel, these conversations are useful as we build our rapport and empathy with those we serve.

Stir the pot. Ask the hard questions. It’ll result in a better served customer, and a better served customer serves our associations well.

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