Thank you to Joan Leach for the President’s Update.
National Science Week
There is currently a nearly manic preparation going on for National Science Week all around me. Every ASC member I know is readying themselves for a week plus of activity. To all of us I say ‘courage’ and ‘break a leg’. It would be dangerous to give too many shout outs to activities by members in science week, but the breadth is staggering—from open science initiatives, live science comedy, curated evens, debates, demonstrations, panels, talks, and even the odd lecture. Check in with your local ASC branch—chances are after science week is over, you’ll need a debrief and someone with whom to compare notes. ASC channels will be open—Facebook, LinkedIn, the list, and some state branches are planning ‘recovery’ events.
‘State of the ASC’
The activity in National Science Week has been mirrored by activity at the ASC. I feel like we need a ‘state of the ASC’ address at the moment (‘the state of the nation’ in the US being still a bit befuddling to me). What I can say unequivocally is that the state of the ASC is strong. I want to communicate that clearly as we’ve done a lot of things to bolster the organisation—made our constitution legal, cleared our bookkeeping, committed to pay an overdue tax burden, streamlined and reduced our costs at the national level—and, of course, raised membership fees. Raising membership fees is an unpleasant thing to do. I don’t love it. But being able to continue to be the professional association for science communicators and science journalists is important and the fact is, we hadn’t raised the fees soon enough. The ASC now has a plan forward and will have the funds to meet that plan and return value to the membership (in addition to actual money for grants!). This plan includes the ‘meet the members’ that Kali Madden has been running—I love to listen to these (usually after the fact). It included our successful Brisbane conference…and ‘teaser’, the plan for next year’s conference (soon to be announced!). It includes the support we’ve given to local branches for events (congrats to SA for a great storytelling event) as well the fantastic grants program that we’re able to offer our members again this year…see this month’s issue of SCOPE!! It includes maintaining our list (not as trivial as it sounds)—we have an active stream of job ads coming through and our social media (I confess to being a lurker) where the discussions are excellent bellwethers of where our field is at. And, we are planning a re-launch of the ASC website, supported by the efforts of Bianca Nogrady, award-winning science journalist. So, I’ve just renewed my membership alongside my colleagues. I hope you’ll renew yours. And get ready for the e-cocktail parties coming your way as another addition to our networking at ASC.
So, I’m fascinated by the data that suggests while social media is important, we also want to feel engaged IRL—that is, live events, experiences, social engagement is still important for well-being, creativity, critical engagement. I hope that someone reading this will see the ASC as a place to be engaged IRL. I find the colleagues I meet through the ASC valuable to my professional life, but also to feeling of a network that has a set of agendas to pursue. ASC is doing well again; let’s kick it up to the next level with some of the skills and passion that you have as a member. We’re a couple months out from our AGM (and so are the State branches). If you’re not actively involved in some way (it’s OK to lurk in some outlets, but in every format???), this could be the time. As always, let me know if you have thoughts about what ASC can do for you, or what you can do for the ASC, I’d look forward to hearing them.