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Huh? I don't get it.

At 03:48 PM 2/11/2000 -0500, D. Chang wrote a long diatribe about the NEC
convention ending with:

>If your conventions are always held in your home regions (NE,W,N) don't you
>only see the same guys every year?

Huh?  Why would a regional organization hold an event in another region?
Who would run it?  Who do you think DOES run regional events?  

>Why dont you guys rotate your convention locations by region every year?

Who do you think "you guys" are?  Is there a Florida based organization
that is willing to come up with the money and more importantly the
VOLUNTEERS to run a convention like this?  We (being the North East
Council) have run this event for 25 years now.  We (being the North East
Council) don't have a lot of incentive to want to move our event to a part
of the country where most of OUR members couldn't attend.

>Some of your S.E. fans may never get a chance to meet you folks in person
>to find out if you look the way we picture you! :-)

I am available to lecture, and do so several times per year at locations
all over the country.  So are Dorothy Reimer, Neil Frank, Erik Olson, David
Lass and Bob Cashin.  Probably others too.  David and I are attending the
NEC convention because it's our "home" organization, and we always do.  The
others are coming because the NEC puts on an awesome convention, and it's a
lot of fun.  They are all paying their own way to go.  This is not some
sort of conspiracy.  

The management committee for NEC (of which I am not a part) approached AGA
and asked if AGA would be willing to help sponsor Claus as a speaker.  AGA
agreed because it's good for the plant hobby in this country.  AGA has
sponsored speakers at other conventions as well as NEC.  But if the
organization looking for this type of involvement doesn't come forward and
ask, there is no way for AGA to even know about the event.

NEC always goes out of its way to welcome national groups.  They provide
AGA with meeting space for our own meeting at no cost, and they provide us
with space in their vendors hall at no cost.  They do the same for other
national organizations as well.  The Rainbow Study Group has been involved
in the NEC convention in the past, as has the Fish Breeders Guild.  There
are probably others as well.


That's great!  Start (or join) a local organization.  Get people involved
and active.  Raise the funds to run a major convention. (warning, it's not
cheap)  And then make sure you have a good solid core of volunteers who
live near enough to pull the whole thing off.  If you have a major plant
speaker, ask AGA for help.  You will probably receive it.  

BTW, when Claus was here a few years ago, also speaking at NEC, again,
asked by them.  He also visited Florida.  He got to meet a number of
Florida aquatic plant people including Doug Valverde and Art Giacosa.  He
spent time at Florida Aquatic Nurseries, the University of Florida, and
exploring the Everglades.  So he has been in Florida.  I suspect if he'd
been asked, he would have been happy to speak there too.

It's not impossible to start a local group either as a general aquarium
club or as a planted tank club.  There are young, vital aquatic plant clubs
in both San Francisco and Vancouver.  There's a brand new group just formed
in Madison Wisconsin.  They had 17 people at their first meeting!  In the
Boston area, we have not felt the need for a "separate" plant group,
because our general aquarium club has been very responsive to the needs and
interests of the planted tank enthusiasts.  I know this is true in many
other areas as well.

At this time, AGA does not have any "official" local "chapters".  But all
of these local groups have a strong cross over membership-wise with AGA,
just because we are all interested in the same things.  AGA is _always_
happy to publish news and announcements of upcoming local plant related
events both in TAG and on our web site.  All you need to do is feed the
information to us.  We don't know where you are or what you're doing unless
you tell us.

Those of you who are planted tank enthusiasts in Florida, band together!
Get to know each other.  Plan some meetings.  If you can build a strong
enough group to put on a convention, great!  AGA will do what it can to
help and support you in your endeavors.  But it is the _local_ people who
must do the work and the planning.  You can't expect those of us who live
in New England to plan our event in your location for your convenience.
It's just not realistic.