NMRA Bulletin!

I've belonged to the NMRA since 1984, more or less out of momentum
rather than anything else. Their last membership increase a few years
ago pushed my membership in Canadian dollars to around $55.00 a year.
Since the most "benefit" I was receiving was the NMRA Bulletin
newsletter, and it didn't amount to much, I changed my membership to
sustaining that does away with the Bulletin. This was about $22.00 a
year cheaper, and I did not miss the publication.
This week I received a welcomed surprise - a check from the NMRA
treasurer for one of my photos they used on the October Bulletin cover!
I had sent some photos several years ago, and did not realize they still
had any on hand. Since I don't get it, I borrowed a copy from a
friend. Wow, lots of changes since I stopped getting it! It's now
called "Scale Rails" and in very teeny type "and NMRA Bulletin".
Lots of changes, former editor Terry Bacus is back. The front three
quarters of the publication almost appears to be an independent hobby
publication, but some of the old material is still there - the
official's columns, the corny "Thumbz" cartoons, etc. The last quarter
of the issue is the actual NMRA Bulletin - membership news.
So the "new" Scale Rails is sort of new, but with lots of the "old".
I'm not sure what the idea was, to make it more like an commercial
publication or what. It does seem to be more interesting.
One thing this is sadly interesting is the membership thermometer; the
latest info from July of 2003 shows only 20,493 NMRA members. When I
got the Bulletin, I recall the numbers always seemed to be hovering
around 23- 25K. Looks like quite a few members have lost interest (or
passed away).
Just passing along some info!
Bob Boudreau
Reply to
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I too have watched with dismay the shrinking membership in the NMRA. I believe that the problem is that the association is vital for the health of the hobby. Consider that if it were not for the NMRA, DCC would never have come into existence in its current popular form. However, the perceived value to an individual is small. The Scale Rails magazine is nice, but a poor second to the many commercial publications. The conventions are nice, but now compete with a great many train shows. I suspect that a lot people like myself go to train shows to see what the manufacturers are offering and to shop at the many dealers' tables. These shows often offer clinics as well. So what does an NMRA convention offer above that, the model contests? That's valuable to some, but considering the current overwhelming trend away from kit building, I suspect that fewer and fewer people are in this hobby to build things (another very worrisome, but different, subject).
So the NMRA has a problem. I don't know the solution and I fear the result. I continue my membership out of a sense of duty to the hobby rather than because of anything of particular value to me.
Andy Miller
======================================================= Railfan wrote:
Reply to
Andrew S. Miller
I suggest to both you and Bob (and all other members) that you join the NMRA mailing list that discusses organization policies. That is, if you aren't members already. Just go to
formatting link
and follow the links.
I've been a gadfly (OK, I prefer "a voice in the wildrness") on the list for some time and could use some help :-). In particular, I think dues could be greatly reduced if administrative overhead were reduced and the library made self supporting.
Reply to
Larry Blanchard
I have been a member for over twenty years now and served as a regional official.
I believe the NMRA should have stayed in Indianapolis in someone's basement, or a small rental space, produced the house organ known as The Bulletin in a format of four to eight pages every other month, promulgated standards, recommended practices and the like, and forgotton about national headquarters, libraries, museums, national conventions and national train shows. Those things are for professional monied organizations. If the NMRA wanted to lend its name to such endeavors, fine, but the membership should not be on the hook for it.
I have to decide whether to renew my membership in March and frankly I am on the fence.
Phil Bostian
Reply to
Phil Bostian
=>I believe the NMRA should have stayed in Indianapolis in someone's basement, =>or a small rental space, produced the house organ known as The Bulletin in a =>format of four to eight pages every other month, promulgated standards, =>recommended practices and the like, and forgotton about national =>headquarters, libraries, museums, national conventions and national train =>shows. Those things are for professional monied organizations. If the NMRA =>wanted to lend its name to such endeavors, fine, but the membership should =>not be on the hook for it.
The National Conventions have, AFAIK, always shown a profit, which has been shared between the sponsoring Region and the national organisation. At the Toronto convention this summer, I saw a lot of younger folks, many of them first timers - all were pleased at the fun they were having, and said they would come to another one. The train shows are not paid for by the NMRA. The library needs more staff, not less - the NMRA literally does not know what it has. (Actuallty, it's no worse off than the National Archives or Library of Congress - neither of these bodies have enough funding to keep their catalogues up to date. Nor does any museum I know of.) The museum AFAIK is being maintained with volunteer labour - hardly an onerous cost for the rest of us members. :-)
The main problem w/ the NMRA is that it's a _volunteer_ organisation. Look at any volunteer org these days, and you'll see a preponderance of grey heads. The younger generations (late baby boomer and GenX) think that if they pay some money they're entitled to some service. Most of the complaints about the NMRA lately have been variations on "I'm not getting service."
I was going to give you one my fave rants here, but I'll spare you. :-)
Wolf Kirchmeir ................................. If you didn't want to go to Chicago, why did you get on this train? (Garrison Keillor)
Reply to
Wolf Kirchmeir
No, it wasn't a loss of interest, nor death that caused the recent 4K decline in membership. It was the extremely unpopular, dramatic 2002 dues hike. Be assured, the next such increase will cause a further 3K-4K decline. Actually, I can't image anyone who honestly sat down and read the posted minutes of the NMRA board meeting that year would have stayed on. I was a member and very active participant in the organization for nearly 20 years but that board fiasco was enough to make me turn and head for the exit straight away.
Reply to
If you were president of the NMRA, how would you reduce administrative overhead and make the library self-supporting? How much would dues be reduced?
Your idea would have a lot of appeal - and we get to vote for the president of our association. Greatly reducing dues (how much is greatly?) could give an independent candidate a good shot at shaking up the established leadership at NMRA -- if we were able to get the word out. They've made some poor decisions in the past and the part of the recent dues increase is to cover for those financial missteps.
- Mark
Reply to
Mark Mathu
One small detail...Terry Baccus never left as editor. He's been there ever since they switched editors around 8-9 years ago (I'm not sure exactly how long it's been).
Reply to
That's correct. Although, IIRC, Toronto didn't due to SARS.
Also correct. Neither are the region or division conventions.
Other than admin, the library is the biggest money pit. Almost $200,000 in the 2002-2003 budget. That's about $10 of the $23 non-magazine dues. That cost needs to go down, not up.
Also correct. It was getting free rent, but now it even pays for that.
Reply to
Larry Blanchard
Well, first of all, I'm not a candidate. I can't afford the expenses. Besides, my people skills are essentially non-existent :-).
But to lower costs:
1. I keep being told that the library is used extensively by manufacturers. Raise the rates to them, and maybe to the small minority of members that use it. If that doesn't do it, see if we can interest some historical society in taking it over or at least sharing the cost (and the benefits). In general, I think the library (actually, any library) is a good thing. But I question whether it's a good thing for us to support to the extent we do (roughly $10 a member).
2. Get rid of that HQ building! I see no reason why simple rented office space in some reasonably priced area couldn't do the job.
3. Empower the regions. The only things that need to be done at the national level are the standards effort (mostly volunteers, but needs coordination), the national convention (and even here the region members do a lot of the work, if not most), and the magazine. I'd like to see the regions do everything else, including collecting the dues and forwarding what's needed to national. In other words, make the national a confederation of independent regional organizations.
4. If #3 doesn't fly, and it probably wouldn't, contract out the subscription/membership fulfilment to a comapny that specializes in it.
You'll note that I haven't complained about the cost of the magazine, as that's an option. I'd like to see just a newsletter instead of an attempt to compete with the commercial mags, but the members appear to be split about 50-50 on that.
I see no reason dues couldn't be reduced $10-$15 if all the above was implemented. In fact, pushing stuff down to the regional level might result in more being done by volunteers and reduce the cost even further.
Reply to
Larry Blanchard
OK thanks. For some reason I thought someone else was the editor a while past. I threw out all of my past issues of the Bulletin a while ago, and did not have any references. His name is Terry Bacus Jr., according to the current masthead. I do know he has a different mailing address, perhaps that's what through me off.
Bob Boudreau Canada
Reply to
Shouldn't that be "...due to ~fear of~ SARS"?
There is a difference...
Reply to
Larry, I don't have access to the latest NMRA budget numbers (I'm one of those NMRA members who dropped my subscription to the Bulletin with the latest dues increase) -- how did you come up with the $10 a member support for the library?
Reply to
Mark Mathu
>how did you come up with the $10 a member support for the library?
Reply to
Jon Miller
The 2002-2003 budget shows $197,315 as estimated library expenses. Estimated income $13,000. That's about $184,000 net cost. Membership is a moving target, but I know it's under 20,000. If it were 18,400 that'd give the $10 each.
BTW, total for the tech department (standards & conformance) was $4,325.
Yes, these are budget figures. Do they accurately reflect both direct and indirect costs? Who knows? But they're the best numbers we have.
Now let me bring this to a close by repeating the invite to take it to the NMRA mailing list. That's where it belongs.
Reply to
Larry Blanchard
NMRA mailing list. That's where it belongs.< I will start and say this is correct but I get about 1 post per week/month on that list!
expenses.--sic-- total for the tech department (standards & conformance) was $4,325.< This shows me where the NMRA is going wrong but who am I!
Reply to
Jon Miller
Would you rather be ~afraid~ of catching it or be ~dead~ from having contracted it? There is a difference
..........F> 20-20 Hindsight Street, Stay-At-Home, GA.
Reply to
Are you still on it? It goes in cycles but the last few weeks it's been about 6-12 messages a day.
If you're missing them, I think you can read the archives at
formatting link
if you're signed up for the list.
Reply to
Larry Blanchard
Larry, I'm sorry, I'm on the NMRA DCC list. What you listed was the NMRA site. Is there a general discussion group? Is it a Yahoo group?
Reply to
Jon Miller
There are two. One for modelling topics (not a lot of activity, most who are online get more responses to a question here) and one for general NMRA business, which lately has been about what changes are needed.
Neither are a Yahoo group, they're run by an NMRA volunteer.
I just checked the "general" list archives, so far in Jan there've been 120 messages. The "modelling" list only had 14.
Reply to
Larry Blanchard

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