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I think my devil's advocate position was taken literally. I am not
for changing the national convention at all. I was pointing out the rise of
the local killie clubs as the "motor" and focus of today's AKA. Years ago the
motor was the national club as a whole and extraordinary individual hobbyists
here and in Europe. Sure, there are many members in areas where there is no
local club, but the driving force of the AKA today is the local clubs. I
think this is good -- provided -- that the way things are done locally
(auction splits, fish for show only but not auction, etc.) does not become
the way things are done nationally. What is best on a local level is not
always best on a national level. My great fear with the local clubs is that
they may one day wonder why it is even necessary to have a national
association and the members will just drop out. They will have lots of fish
and there are only so many new Wildekamp books to write and buy -- plus
killie conservation can be done on a local level too.
The founders of the AKA were not worried about regional competition,
and, yes, of course, they were all for local groups -- Chicago's pre-dates
the AKA even, but national clubs for fish had faltered before Klee's plan for
the AKA because they always bogged down into a few local power centers.
Killies were so rare that they were the natural choice for a national club --
they needed a national organization,so there was real motivation to escape
the bad side of regionalism..
I would have to disagree that the AKA was not created for the
distribution of killies. No matter what else its stated goals were, its real
reason for being formed was the distribution of fish -- hence the early
attempt at an egg bank and the success of the F&EL. The AKA was inspired in
many ways by THE AQUARIUM MAGAZINE's "Panchax Exchange" column and by
Scheel's monumental efforts to distribute eggs all over the world through the
Aquarists International network that Gene Wolfsheimer set up. Being able to
get, sell and trade killies was the main reason the AKA was created and
endured -- then came the people, the publications, the conventions, etc...
People wanted killies.
Beyond all the services the AKA renders so inexpensively, there is the
contribution of the Association itself. It made killifish in the USA a viable
hobby. It's success is incredible. Things can change (rise of local clubs)
but when people want to start changing actions that express the fundamental
spirit of the club, then I worry.
If there were only 50 pairs of absolutely perfect gardneri at the next
convention, that would be fine by me. I go for the people, the talk, the
WORKSHOPS especially, and the speakers. The fish are secondary.
I don't want the AKA to become the ACA. African Cichlids hurt the
breeding aspect of the hobby enormously and they have dumbed-down the LFS and
potentially new hobbyists as so many just ask for easy to keep, big, colorful
fish -- Malawi cichlids. They made the breeding of fish seem too easy. If
someone tells me their East African cichlids spawned, I think, "Ho Hum." If
someone tells me their neons spawned -- I am all ears. Why? Neons are a real
accomplishment; Malawi Cichlids are food, water, and both sexes. They
commercialized the breeding and trading aspect of the hobby out the wazoo and
I just do not want to see that commercial ideology come into the AKA auction
and show. It's fine on a local level, but at the Convention, something more
generous is asked of the exhibitors.
A special section showing rare fish and KCC fish is great! Develop an
entry fee/awards system for their special circumstances. Let the people take
them home afterwards. That is fine and good.
Having proxy bids is great. What about a real internet project for the
AKA. Put the fish auction on line this year. Have members pay a small, small
bidding fee and then open the auction to potentially the whole membership. I
realize that this would be a HUGE undertaking and full of problems -- but
what a way to meet the 21st century. I have no idea if the technology exists
to do it, but thought I would throw the idea out. I bet it would take alot of
extra people and computers and the auction would have to go slower -- not to
mention the shipping of fish.
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