[Action items shown with the designee’s name in bold]
Dave Duguid, Matt Westlake, Mike Broome, and Mark Little were all in attendance at the Tandoor Indian Restaurant in RTP, NC.
We began the meeting with discussion about the web issues. Mike described the web site transition as involving two elements: updating the website (all content is in hand) and handling the web hosting. Mark suggested that GoDaddy may offer a discount and offer 4-5 email addresses. Mike described setting up alias addresses (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org) as a way to handle the web pages long term and suggested that the list serve may actually be run through such an address.
After the discussions, the officers authorized Mark to get paid for the domain name. Mike is authorized to make the transition for web hosting and will do it in March. Mike will aim for the end of March so that we’ll be sure to have the system altered before the rtpnet account runs out in May.
Later the officers discussed new ideas for the web site. Dave suggested that the Members Only section should add locally produced cave maps. Mike will look into integrating the mailing list with the blog so that notices of new postings are sent to members. Matt suggested Flickr for the photo gallery, but the upload time of the current photo gallery might be restrictive.
The officers also discussed more participation from past and present members. Those members who don’t show up for the next meetings will get a dues reminder from Mark. In terms of reaching back to older members, the officers have chosen to send invitational letters to those we can still reach. Mark will provide addresses, Dave the form letter, and Ken the personal notes.
In terms of officer meetings, everyone was happy with quarterly meetings after work, accompanied by dinner. Other club members are encouraged to attend. Dave will try to have an agenda beforehand and will poll officers for input to the meetings.
Mike will handle ordering two new (electric) lamps for the grotto supplies and an Ecrin Roc helmet.
The officers talked about the grotto library holdings and their lack of a lot of recent material. Mike expressed that the library storage bin is heavy. Dave asked the NSS about electronic media for the library and will ask again to better store the information. The officers agreed that Dave could purchase the copy of Cave Minerals of the World he was authorized to buy several years ago. Mike assured the officers that the list of the library materials would be going on the web with the updates. There was also a discussion about getting NSS county bulletins for nearby states and a cool book that Mark saw offered by the NSS.
Mark indicated that the outstanding money promised to conservancies as VAR/MAR door prizes but never claimed would remain on the books for one year.
Rosters need to stay more up to date for the active members, and Mark agreed to continue making updates.
Discussion of officially changing the officer descriptions in the Bylaws was tabled until the next officers meeting.
Ideas were passed around for upcoming meeting programs: Knots, the V-squeezebox, Ken’s team trivia twist, lessons in hypothermia, A/V programs from the NSS, and white nose fungus. Ken will handle the February program while Dave and Matt figure out the new A/V equipment. Ken shared the contact information at the Museum with Dave and Matt so that they can learn how to use the new equipment at the museum.
To prepare for the Wiley Elementary School Science Night, Ken will hold a dinner immediately before the next meeting to discuss. The officers approved reimbursing that group up to a set amount if they have any production costs for materials that can be reused at future outreach events.
A brief discussion was held, asking whether the grotto should assist with the production costs of cave maps. However, the cartography production discussion was tabled until a future date.
Some discussion was had about promoting more caving activities this year, especially getting people underground. Perhaps through more conservation trips, a grotto annual trip, quarterly photography trips, or other such activities.
The officers discussed outreach to the rock climbing community. Matt asked if trips had been advertised with the Climbing email group, but Mike responded that we had not tried this yet and should accompany it with an announcement of novice trips. The mailing list includes hundreds of people, so the trips may have to limit numbers. At a minimum, the TriTrogs should likely post a flyer at the local rock climbing gyms (“Helmet too shiny and clean?”).
Mark Dautridge and Matt Westlake had discussed caving one day and then climbing the next for some weekend trips. Mike added that caving weekends have been combined with hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking in the past.
Officers feel the need to push more grotto members to get involved and lead caving trips. They then engaged in a short discussion about how to make this happen. Matt suggested that we set up a system to allow people to sign up for trips instead of responding to the planner with emails, and Ken made a wise crack about putting the signup sheet outside the museum. Officers generally agreed that Evite is not the system to use, but some of its features might be worth emulating.
Dave stated that setting up a trip isn’t that hard and only entails picking a location, date, and overnight accommodations, as well as arranging landowner permission. He suggested that the grotto should have more sport trips going out. Mike has some novice friends that he wants to take caving, so he’ll set up a trip after April. He wants to navigate via the cave map.
The officers discussed how to approach members about leading trips. Making the trip you’re soliciting into a reality includes specificity about the type of trip (vertical, photography, etc.) and getting a tentative date set.
The conversation then turned to different types of cave trips. In terms of conservation/cleanup efforts, the trip to clean up Hancock Cave’s back entrance began the discussion. We might propose half a day cleanup followed by half a day caving on the property. Dave asked if there were any possible cleanups that might help the TriTrogs gain access to a closed cave, and Ken suggested Flat Ridge Cave. There was also interest in visiting a cave multiple times for cleanup trips, but no cave name was suggested.
Dave volunteered to organize a kid-friendly trip for parents and their children. Target ages would be under ten years old. Howard and his coworkers may be interested in getting some teen trips on the calendar (which may still involve some parental supervision).
The officers plan to hold the traditional TriTrog parties again this year (Pool Party, Halloween Party, and the Annual Holiday Party) but did not want to start having food and drink at the museum meetings. The feeling was that the After-the-Meeting Meeting is an important part of the club activity, and we should not take away from its time.
Grotto auctions aren’t necessarily good fundraisers, but they can be entertaining programs. However, there wasn’t much enthusiasm about having one this year unless meeting attendance increases. The officers expressed that they would rather see Charles McEachern at a meeting than his gear (for auction). The officers did not show interest in obtaining his vertical gear for use or profit. Officers agreed that they’d rather focus on outreach than fundraising this year.
The discussion then turned to awarding grotto members for active participation in the grotto. Mike mentioned that he was willing to provide homebrews for trip reports as he has done in the past, and the grotto could reimburse him. Dave and Ken also presented the notion of a point system with awards when the grotto members each reached a benchmark, perhaps something to celebrate 20 years of TriTrogs. Mark played off of this idea and suggested Appreciation Awards that could be given for the overall points winner, who led the most trips, etc. He suggested that an awards ceremony could be held (perhaps in March each year) to honor the previous year’s recipients. Ken compared this to some awards for Best Teacher, Best Photographer, etc. that the grotto has awarded in the distant past. The feeling was that it is healthy to acknowledge participation and encourage some competitive spirit, and possibly offer gift certificates as awards. Mike might ask Matt Jenkins about ways that scores could easily be tracked and posted online for the grotto membership. This awards process would best be handled by a committee separate from the officers, and Dave plans to try to establish an awards committee at a future meeting (March at the latest).
There was a short discussion about a grotto calendar and how that might fit in with a photo salon program, but no action items were raised.
The meeting closed shortly before 9 PM.