Ramblings On My Mind – October 2016

ramblings201306BNGreg Johnson / CBA President

Well this month’s Rambling column is not so much a rambling from my part, but rather an explanation. Every now and then, people ask just what they receive for their $25.00 membership to the Cascade Blues Association. Well, let me give a few examples here.

First off, your membership card guarantees you free admission to our monthly general membership meetings. Those who are not members are required to pay $3.00 to get in. If you attend every meeting of the year it’d cost you $33.00 — right there you have saved $8.00. I only have included eleven months of meetings here as the November meeting is our annual Muddy Awards show. Non-members for that event pay $5.00 for entry, where you’re getting in free for one of the most anticipated blues events of the year in Portland.

The Cascade Blues Association also co-sponsors multiple events and concerts throughout the year, and these co-sponsored events offer discounts to our members for admission. Most of the time it might be a $1.00 discount, but it can vary and has been as much as $5.00 or more at times. Go to a lot of shows and the $25.00 membership is starting to pay for itself quickly and then some.

Every summer we have held a members only picnic. Your membership allows you entrance into this event. We have also held a Holiday Party in December, which again as a member you have free access. The Holiday Party is open to the public, but there is a $5.00 entry fee.

You receive the CBA’s BluesNotes publication delivered to your home monthly as part of your membership. Many other societies have gone the route of only offering their monthly, bi-monthly or even quarterly publications online only. We continue offering this hard copy to our members because they have said they prefer to have it that way. This costs us a great deal every month with editor fees, printing, and mailing. It far outweighs the funds that we receive through memberships each month.

We have heard the complaints that the papers do not always arrive before the end of the month to your homes. The BluesNotes have been put together the same way, the same dates each month for well over two decades. Submissions must be received by the 15th of the month prior. Everything is proof-read before it goes to the editor, who then puts the paper together over the next two to three days. Then it is again proofread and edited until it is ready to be submitted to the printers. They usually receive that by the 20th and then give them a day or two for printing and it is sent to the Post Office. This is where we lose control of how the paper is delivered. We have asked how the time frame varies when all are delivered at the main branch at the same time. The papers are mailed as bulk mail at a non-profit postage rate. Because of this, when it is sent to your local post office branches it is up to the staff there as to when it will actually be sent out on their routes, thus meaning that some people will receive their papers before others.

Another perk of being a member is having the right to vote for the Muddy Awards. All of our nominations and final votes are done by our members. We had been talking for the past few years of doing our voting online and we made that jump this year. Things don’t always flow as intended with new methods and we did have some glitches. A lot of people received “404” error messages. Often it was found when researched that either memberships had expired or for some reason were not showing up in our membership lists. But our webmaster was quick to respond and offered to assist anybody needing extra help to get things under way. We hope that you were able to get into the nomination program and if you did have problems you contacted the webmaster. Final ballot voting will be handled the same way as will future Muddy Award voting. New programs often take a little kicking and touch-ups to make sure that they’re working right.

Sometimes change is difficult for people to adhere to. We gave notice in the BluesNotes, at the monthly meetings and at the summer picnic that the Muddy voting would be done online this year. It only makes sense. Most people have means to go online with home computers and smart phones. There are other outlets available for those who do not own their computers to gain internet access, such as the public libraries. And we offered assistance to help those still having problems individually.

Why did we decide to make this change and had been thinking about for some time? Simple, it is cost efficient for us to do it this way to begin with. When you add up two sets of ballots for each member, printing paper ballots and mail expenses adds up to close to $1000.00 every year. Then we had to have the post office checked almost daily to keep up with the ballots being returned and then one person individually going through each ballot and creating a matrix of every vote sent in. Then the ballots and matrix went to a second person to verify. This is quite time consuming and may encounter human error that would have to be double checked if calculations differed. By going online, the calculations are done by computer and are accurate. They also are met by the firm deadline of when the cut-off for receiving them occurs.

Overall, if you look at what you do receive through your CBA membership, the benefits far exceed the amount that you pay. A number of other organizations may only provide you with a membership card and sometimes a newsletter and that’s it. Many may not even have monthly gatherings other than to talk about business without live music, let alone a picnic, holiday party and awards event. We strive to bring you the most bang for your dollar each year, but we want to provide the best overall service to the majority of our members as best we can. If you have ideas on how we may improve we are open to your thoughts.