I’ve mostly worked as a writer for many years, but I’ve also been involved with community organizations.
Los Angeles Macintosh Group
When we lived in Los Angeles, I was one of the leaders of the non-profit Los Angeles Macintosh Group (LAMG), which at the time was one of the five largest Mac user groups in the country. At our peak, we had more than 5,000 paid members, an award-winning newsletter, and put on one of the best regional Mac trade shows, MacFair LA. In its biggest year, MacFair LA had 12,000 attendees over a three-day weekend.
I began with LAMG in 1985 as a member of their Mac Hollywood regional affiliate, stepping up to run that group after about a year. I then moved to the larger organization, and was elected by the membership to the Board of Directors, where I served for many terms in a variety of roles, including Board Member, Director of Meetings, Vice President, and ended as President. In late 1999, after 14 years with LAMG, I left the group, as we were planning our move to Northern California.
Here in Healdsburg, I was happy to take a rest from non-profit politics for a few years, until Dori noticed an article in the local paper calling for Board members for Access Healdsburg, which was to be the local cable TV public access station. I showed up at the first meeting, and it turned out that I was pretty much the only person there who knew about the technical aspects of video production (prior to writing, I’d worked as a video editor in Hollywood, before deciding it wasn’t the right life for me). So over the next few years, I served as Vice President of the Access Healdsburg Board and got to design and direct the building of a whole television station, with two beautifully-equipped studios, control room, master control, three edit bays, a remote unit, and much more. We spent two years and around $400,000 building the station on the grounds of Healdsburg High School. Over our next five years of operation, we brought the ability to any community member or local non-profit to make television programs. During this same time, we taught countless students how to script, shoot, and edit their own shows.
Sadly, having the station at the high school turned out to be our downfall. Though the building had been purpose-built by the community with $1.5 million of local bond money to be a TV station, a new administration at the Healdsburg Unified School District decided they needed a new place to put the district office, because they had years before made a stupid decision to move into portable buildings when they vacated their previous offices. They purposely dragged their heels negotiating a renewal lease with us, then cravenly evicted Access Healdsburg and destroyed a fully functional television station that the community had paid for, just so a bunch of bureaucrats could have a more comfy place to park their sorry asses while they mismanaged the district.
It was certainly a learning experience for me; I had no idea that ostensibly public servants at the school district would be so willing to lie about our organization’s contribution to the schools and rip off the larger community for their own narrow benefit. Or, for that matter, that municipal employees would so impotently stand by and allow a brilliant community investment to be so easily squandered, with little to no concern about the huge investment in money, time, and effort by dozens of community members. The whole experience brought me great joy in building something the whole town could be proud of, and when the local politics took full hold and the place was torn down, it saddened me to the core. Bitter? Me? Yep. That’s what happens when seven years of my volunteer work gets flushed away by liars and cowards. I was one of the founders of Access Healdsburg, was one of only two people who were there during its entire existence, and was the last Board member out the door. I’ll always remember and be proud of what we accomplished.
North Coast Macintosh Users Group
Shortly after we moved here in 1999, I made sure to contact the local Mac user group (NCMUG) to offer my services as a speaker. I didn’t want to get involved in running the user group; after 14 years with LAMG, I’d kind of been there, done that, and on a much larger stage. But I’m happy to be the featured speaker at the group’s main meeting once or twice a year, usually on a topic related to my latest book, and to speak at their annual show, Mac Computer Expo. I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at most of the MCE’s over the past decade; it’s a terrific, fun one-day event. And we’ve found many good friends in the ranks of NCMUG.