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#1 2017-12-17 17:39:25

Number04
Member
From: Calgary Alberta Canada
Registered: 2002-09-24
Posts: 162

Mars Society Chapter in Calgary Alberta

Hello all,

I'm looking for some direction in setting up a Mars Chapter in Western Canada. I've gotten the forms and I have a pretty good idea on how to officially open a chapter. What I'd really like to get is some advice on how to successfully  open and maintain a chapter. What are some tips for" 

  • Getting the word out that you exists.

  • Activities for members to keep them engaged.

  • Gaining support from Universities and organisation.

  • Making meaningful intellectual contributions to the Mars Society

Your advice is greatly appreciated.

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#2 2017-12-17 20:33:38

RobertDyck
Member
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,270
Website

Re: Mars Society Chapter in Calgary Alberta

Welcome! Glad to see another Canadian chapter. The "Mars Society Canada" was officially for all of Canada, but in reality those guys were just Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal. The one time I attended an AGM as the chapter head from Winnipeg, no one would speak to me. However, that group closed down. I believe my chapter is the only one in Canada still operating.

I won't claim to have done the best job, but we're still here. When I started, I put up 8.5"x11" posters at the local downtown university. I included a nice picture of Mars, and meeting times. Someone from CBC noticed, I was asked to speak on radio a couple times about Mars related events: Mars close approach, etc. One time it was during working hours, and my employer wanted me to focus on my job, so I didn't do the best job on radio. They emailed me, had me phone them from work, the phone call was on air. When I didn't give them the location in the sky for an amateur to see Mars, they never called me again. So make sure you get it right, media is not forgiving.

Create a website, and a presence on Facebook. One simple way is to announce your club on the Facebook group for Mars Society Canada. That Facebook group is really all that's left of MSC. If you want, I could get you in contact with the guy maintaining the website for MSC. You can get free web space for your local chapter. The guy maintaining it now is from Whitehorse Yukon.

Website: Mars Society Canada

Facebook group: Mars Society Canada

I give a presentation about Mars at the annual science fiction convention: Keycon. It's much appreciated. Many science fiction fans want to know what's going on with real space exploration, especially human space. I was asked to be keynote speaker once at a smaller local science fiction convention (Cabin Fever), a science fiction event by the downtown city library, and once at the big annual event of the local chapter of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC). RASC(Winnipeg) invited me to speak several times at their monthly meetings. I was jealous of how many members they drew every month.

Perhaps one reason membership in Winnipeg has dwindled is lack of activities. At first members got very ambitious. They wanted to do something real. One idea that caught their attention was the idea of setting up a dish array. At that time people were getting rid of big analog satellite TV dishes, getting small dishes for digital satellite TV. The project was to collect the big dishes, then set them up as a dish array to receive telemetry from Mars. Perhaps to receive telemetry from a Mars orbiter past it's extended mission. Mars Global Surveyor was getting old then, so that was a potential. One member had inheritance with condition that he invest it in something, not just spend it. Another member was a member of a motorcycle club that owned property over an hour drive outside the city, but they were all getting older so wanted to sell the property. That seemed ideal, but the guy trying to get his inheritance couldn't convince his family to give it to him. And we never did get any dishes. When that project fell apart, several members quit. They were only interested when they had something significant to work on.

Oh well. I raised enough awareness that one space company bought the old 46-metre radio astronomy dish in Algonquin Park. They refurbished it, offered tours of the dish (for a fee) and work with an Ontario university. One stated purpose is to receive telemetry from Mars probes. I spoke to Caroline Roberts of Thoth Technologies at a symposium hosted by the Canadian Space Agency. Obviously she liked the idea, ran with it.

Gaining support from a university is a great idea. If you can get current students in a local university to join, tell university administration that it's a university club, then you should get a free meeting room. University of Winnipeg works that way. But you have to maintain current students.

At Winnipeg meetings, we chat about Mars. However, members look to me as the expert to tell them what's the latest news. That isn't best. The RASC(Winnipeg) has members give a PowerPoint presentation at every monthly meeting. So it isn't just the local chapter head shooting his mouth off, like me. But when the dish array project collapsed, the members who quit were the knowledgeable ones. Remaining members raise points at our meetings, but they don't have skills to prepare a PowerPoint presentation. One member tried to get us to do this, he gave one presentation then quit the club. If you could start the club tradition of getting members to get up to speak, or better yet prepare a presentation, that would greatly help. And it's a way for members who quietly work on stuff at home to present to club members what they've been doing. RASC gets members to book who will speak, and what they will speak about, so that can be sent out via email a week or two ahead of the meeting.

More help with a local chapter is available on the MSC website (see above). And we're always here to help, just ask.

Last edited by RobertDyck (2017-12-17 20:34:21)

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#3 2017-12-17 20:53:53

RobertDyck
Member
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 5,270
Website

Re: Mars Society Chapter in Calgary Alberta

I mentioned science fiction conventions. When the guy who owns a local comic and toy expo decided to expand his convention to become a real Comic Con, he approached the local science fiction club. I've been a member of that club too since it was founded. That club was one of the founding groups for Keycon, and they guy who owned Manitoba Comic Con wanted to promote his convention, but more importantly recruit volunteers from Keycon to work for his convention. Free labour. He asked me to give my Mars presentation at his convention, so I did. However, almost no one attended. That convention was not set up for "programming". He tried, but it was really a giant dealer's room. When the convention grew too big for a major hotel, it moved to the Winnipeg Convention Centre. That building was set up by the provincial government, has an odd rule that any event that has the word "Manitoba" in its name must pay a fee to the local aboriginal community. So the owner changed the name to Central Canada Comic Con, often called C4. I still go, they bring in actors for my favourite shows, but I don't try to give my presentation there anymore.

You could try giving a presentation at Con-Version. It's a science fiction convention in Calgary, very much like Keycon, founded the same year (1984) and attracts the same book authors. I've been giving my Mars presentation at Keycon every year since 2002. Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo is more like C4. My advice is to give a presentation at "programming" at Con-Version, make it a PowerPoint with lots of petty pictures: Mars, Falcon 9, SLS, etc. And prepare a glossy hand-out for Calgary Expo. C4 has a table where local clubs can leave a pile of brochures to promote their club. Contact Calgary Expo, see if you can leave a stack for your chapter.

Wikipedia: Con-Version

webiste: Calgary Expo

Last edited by RobertDyck (2017-12-17 20:59:49)

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#4 2017-12-18 23:50:42

jburk
Webmaster
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: 2011-11-17
Posts: 137
Website

Re: Mars Society Chapter in Calgary Alberta

Welcome Number04!

Glenn Scott is running the Canada website now. You should be able to contact him through the website.

My advice for all chapters is to find space-related events and do outreach. Or organize your own events. Find other martians to grow the chapter, then work on whatever they want to work on.


James Burk | Webmaster & IT Director | The Mars Society
jburk@marssociety.org  |  +1 (206) 601-7143

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#5 2017-12-29 11:40:29

Number04
Member
From: Calgary Alberta Canada
Registered: 2002-09-24
Posts: 162

Re: Mars Society Chapter in Calgary Alberta

Thank you very much for the tips! smile

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