An ageing society

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Ernie
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An ageing society

Post by Ernie » Fri Mar 05, 2021 11:50 am

The very sad announcement about the passing of long time members of our society serves to remind us does it not that we are a hobby top heavy with senior citizens. I have first hand knowledge of that from my local branch where young blood is rare.
Its the same in one of my other hobbies-competitive chess. I have been a member of the national federation and local association for almost 50 years. During those years I have seen the membership grow old and to make the point I mention that five of my chess playing friends have passed away in the last 2 years(Old age-not covid related). Others have stopped playing. I have been playing the same people for decades in the local league and at Chess tournaments.
Both in the local BCSS branch and the chess clubs I have been seeing the same faces year on year for many decades.

Its the same in my other hobbies, model boats and engineering clubs. Membership stagnating. Very top heavy with senior citizens like myself (in my 70's)

Is there an answer? I doubt it, society has changed, not for the better, and many activities are not being taken up by younger generations. I guess all we can do is enjoy what we have while we have it before it withers on the vine and dies.
Collecting cacti/ succulents and study them is a very rewarding past time that need not be expensive or time consuming and its a message we need to get across to others. I also think its important to make the point, in these politically sensitive times, that it is entirely possible to have a good and varied collection devoid of any habitat collected plants.
Not trying to be controversial just offering some thoughts.
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Pattock
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Re: An ageing society

Post by Pattock » Fri Mar 05, 2021 7:03 pm

I think there are just as many young people interested as there ever were. Have you not seen the Queen's Gambit effect at your chess club yet?

To skip four paragraphs of obvious but grim reality, go to the next :grin:

The problem is that younger people (generally, obviously there are exceptions) don't have the money, time and leisure of previous generations. Fewer young people have their own houses and gardens. They also have a lot less predictability in their future. Their social support networks are already creaking under the strain of years of artificially-imposed austerity. They may be reluctant to become a part of something and then not be able to contribute or even attend meetings because their circumstances change.

Unlike me, they might be embarrased by their tiny, badly-grown collection in their bedroom when they see such wonderful displays in the Society or grown by Instagram and Youtube show-offs.

Young people are also less inclined to meet up, they prefer to conduct a lot of their life in silico.

I do admin for health visitors. They are very worried about how the current crop of children are developing without the necessary social stimulation for forming a healthy brain. It is clear that the likely aftermath of this current eccentric economic stimulus will be a deeper austerity. How can anyone plan for this future?

:grin:

Nothing we can do about that. What can the BCSS do?

The young are still reading books but they have never known a deficiency of moving pictures. Videos could be made now to preserve the knowledge, culture and sheer charisma of our tribal elders for future generations.

Look at the response to the "moonflower" video/webcam. Can we get live flowering events on t'web? We don't necessarily need a weirdo with a paintbrush but it could help to have some sort of "character".

Are there some easily-grown succulents we could propagate in huge quantities and send out to schools who wish to participate in a friendly national biggest/spikiest/blossomyest contest?

How many botany departments in universities are there in the UK? Perhaps some of the more gregarious and hospitable members could invite students to see their collections.

What other national institutions are worthy of our endorsement and engagement?

In 1932, in the first issue of The Cactus Journal, NE Brown told of his introduction to succulents when he was sixteen. He visited a scientifically-disposed collector who explained a few things about the the classification of plants, demonstrating that it was the flowers that showed the relationships of plants by showing the difference between succulent Euphorbias and Cacti. Brown was hooked.

Page 5 onwards. https://www.cactuspro.com/biblio_fichie ... B-v1_O.pdf
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Pattock
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Re: An ageing society

Post by Pattock » Sun Mar 07, 2021 3:57 pm

Just bumping this up the list as no-one else seems to have noticed this. Though, perhaps it should be in "Society Discussion".

Tomorrow is the 89th anniversary of the first incarnation (or older headwater, if you prefer) of the Society, as The Cactus and Succulent Society of Great Britain.
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edds
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Re: An ageing society

Post by edds » Sun Mar 07, 2021 6:32 pm

Unfortunately this is a fact of many societies now. I have always kept tropical fish and the societies there are going the same way.

What the BCSS has that many of them don't is size, national reach, the seed list (which I think will become more and more important as getting seed from abroad seems to be more difficult post-Brexit) as well as a very good magazine.

I do hope (and I'm sure it has been thought about) the society has a good plan about what to do to attract the next generation of society officials - these won't be the children who will often wander away from hobbies when girls/boys, university and young families are at the forefront of their time demands, but the 50+ people coming up towards retirement who may have time on their hands to take over important roles in the near future.
Ed

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Chris L
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Re: An ageing society

Post by Chris L » Sun Mar 07, 2021 6:57 pm

From my point of view the society is getting younger. When I first started going to meetings nearly 30 years ago most other people there would have been three (or even four) times my age. Now most are a lot less than twice my age.... :???:

These are a couple of old branch photos we have.

https://manchester.bcss.org.uk/home/old-photos/

Not many youngsters in view even 50+ years ago.
Image

A number of youngsters here:- one (5) is Brian who was our Chairman for many years.
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HaoBao
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Re: An ageing society

Post by HaoBao » Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:08 pm

To try and get some help to attract new members I put this thread over on the Society Discussion part and didn’t get a reply. :shift:

viewtopic.php?f=61&t=171062

The other post I put on the forum about it got some help and thoughts from members but it also got derailed a bit as usual and then fizzled out.

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=170981

There have been some people from here that helped with providing some content for Reddit like Edds, Paul D, Tina and Jim M so I’d like to thank them for that. I’m not sure if anybody else from here has posted on there.

The number of users there is up to 294 now which is I think is quite good after not much effort, I’ve just been advertising the Zoom talks in more popular pages then linking back to the BCSS page so people can find it. It’s an average of 100 people a month joining the subreddit. I’ve also noticed some people joined the society who I think found out about it through Reddit so it works as a recruiting tool.

To attract more new members I think some things need to be improved though.

From my personal opinion and on first glance this BCSS website looks a bit dead, for example it says the next National Show is in 2016 on the About section. I know there is a new website coming but changing some text on the website so it’s up to date should be doable.

Feedback I got from some users of Reddit was that they felt they weren’t good enough to post on this forum, as if it was just a place for experts, so I think it needs to be more appealing to novice growers. Others didn’t like the atmosphere on here as if it’s too traditional, for example suggesting doing things a certain way because that’s how it was done in the past, that kind of stuff.

Some things I’d like to see on the new website would be curated sections on different topics. I know information is in the forum and you can search for it but it would be nice to have a collection of sections to make it easier. For example;

Where to buy plants locally if possible (even more important now to avoid habitat collected ones);
Where to buy materials;
What soil types there are;
How to set up grow lights;
A guide to fertiliser;
A recommended book section;
A guide to the different types of plants;
Photos of plants by type, so if the section is ‘Echeveria Cante’ People can post their pictures of Cante there, to build up a library. New users could see who grows what well so could ask advice from the better grower, it could also help people ID their plants;
A list of good educational videos;
More ‘how do they do it’ type stuff, like Paul D’s potting post;
Projects that are being worked on;
A list of good places to visit;
A section on all the bugs and diseases to look out for and how to treat them;

Could carry on but my thumb aches from typing all that
Plant sales: www.CentralSucculents.etsy.com
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All my plants are kept indoors and I started collecting in August 2018. Favourites are Pachyphytum, Echeveria, Haworthia, Mesembs and oddball Cacti.
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Stuart
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Re: An ageing society

Post by Stuart » Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:58 pm

Yes it's 'an ageing society' but not an ageing hobby - as shown by the success of John Pilbeam's 'Happy Cactus' book on Amazon's best selling list for a few years now.
I tend to feel that most people create their own interest in the cactus hobby, from a trip to the garden centre or seeing plants for sale in Tescos etc. If they decide they want to go further than a few plants on a sunny window sill, it's our job to have something helpful online because everything that can help is centred around the BCSS and it's activities. I've been trying to have the date of the next National changed on the website for the last four years but I'm always told it will be changed when the new website arrives. The new website, if it ever arrives, needs to have all the info mentioned in the previous post. Sadly, the BCSS missed out a year ago when there was a surge of cactus-related items - clothing, artwork etc - on sale on the high street. I tend to worry that professional web designers might come up with an already very expensive flashy website but without all the necessary friendly info. What we currently have is a rather dull website but it does have a lot of helpful info though it can take some finding.

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MatDz
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Re: An ageing society

Post by MatDz » Mon Mar 08, 2021 12:01 am

HaoBao wrote:
Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:08 pm
[...] Others didn’t like the atmosphere on here as if it’s too traditional, for example suggesting doing things a certain way because that’s how it was done in the past, that kind of stuff. [...]
I am commenting just on this bit, as the rest is spot on. You seem to be describing here someone who simply wants a pat on the shoulder and a nod, and not necessary is looking for an advice. "If it works, don't touch it" is a very good saying, and the JI#2 + grit + "weakly weekly" Chempak 8 really does work (until it doesn't, but that's most often not because it is "traditional"). A screwdriver was invented in the late 15th century :mrgreen:
Stuart wrote:
Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:58 pm
Yes it's 'an ageing society' but not an ageing hobby - as shown by the success of John Pilbeam's 'Happy Cactus' book on Amazon's best selling list for a few years now. [...]
I had a look at some sample pages of this book on A., and I must say it is a very well designed one with lots of useful information for under a tenner, not surprising it is a hit!
Mat
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Re: An ageing society

Post by HaoBao » Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:16 am

Hi Mat, that paragraph was what I heard from other people. One was referring to people saying stuff without having any knowledge themselves, just unquestionably passing on information. Another said they just didn’t like the type of talk on the forum.

A personal example would be when I went to my local branch, I asked about how keeping cacti indoors under growlights would affect the dormancy and the guy there kept referring to keep it cool in the greenhouse. When I said I don’t have a greenhouse, my plants are all indoors, he just kept repeating cool in the greenhouse. Which I’m guessing is because that guy grew plants in the traditional way and didn’t mess about trying to grow them indoors.
Plant sales: www.CentralSucculents.etsy.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/CentralSucculents
Reddit: www.reddit.com/u/CentralSucculents

All my plants are kept indoors and I started collecting in August 2018. Favourites are Pachyphytum, Echeveria, Haworthia, Mesembs and oddball Cacti.
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MatDz
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Re: An ageing society

Post by MatDz » Mon Mar 08, 2021 2:33 am

HaoBao wrote:
Mon Mar 08, 2021 1:16 am
Hi Mat, that paragraph was what I heard from other people. One was referring to people saying stuff without having any knowledge themselves, just unquestionably passing on information. Another said they just didn’t like the type of talk on the forum.

A personal example would be when I went to my local branch, I asked about how keeping cacti indoors under growlights would affect the dormancy and the guy there kept referring to keep it cool in the greenhouse. When I said I don’t have a greenhouse, my plants are all indoors, he just kept repeating cool in the greenhouse. Which I’m guessing is because that guy grew plants in the traditional way and didn’t mess about trying to grow them indoors.
Nah, he just could not listen and apprehend a "different world" might exist, but such people are everywhere and it's worth developing a filter for them anyway! Hard to give an advice about something completely new to the person asked.

But I've digressed here quite a bit, apologies!
Mat
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